At the office I use both my Macbook Pro running OSX 10.6.3 and a Windows XP box side by side, each with separate monitors.  In the beginning I would use my Mac as my primary desktop, and VNC into my XP machine to avoid using two keyboards and mice.  This configuration worked well, but was a pain to have to open VNC to control my Windows XP desktop.  Then I discovered synergy+ which allowed me to use only one keyboard and mouse, and control both screens as if they were one machine, moving the mouse freely to each one as if I had dual monitors. From the synergy+ website:

Synergy+ (synergy-plus) lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, without special hardware. All you need is a LAN connection. It’s intended for users with multiple computers, where each system uses its own display. It’s a little like having a 2nd or a 3rd desktop…

How to configure synergy on Mac OSX

I’m running the synergy+ server on Mac OSX 10.6.3, since that is my primary machine.

First, download synergy+ for the Mac, then download synergy+ again on the Windows machine.

Once installed on both machines, you will need to create a synergy configuration file on the server (Mac).  Here is what mine looks like:

section: screens
macbook-pro.local:
windows-workstation:
alt = super
super = alt
end
section: links
macbook-pro.local:
right = windows-workstation
windows-workstation:
left = macbook-pro.local
end

The config file is pretty straight forward. The first section, called screens, is where you list the hostnames (computer names) for screen1 and screen2, in this case, my macbook-pro is screen1, and my windows workstation is screen2.  The alt=super and super=alt lines are two tricks I found that will allow the Windows key on my keyboard to function properly.  In the next section, called links, you define the layout of the two screens. In my config, my macbook screen is on the left, and my windows machine is on the right, as you can see defined in the config above.

Save the config file as synergy.conf and place it anywhere you’d like.

Now that you have the synergy server configured, you need to start it.  Open a terminal, and run the following command:

synergys -f --config /path/to/synergy.conf

The -f option will run the synergy server in the foreground, in case you need to debug anything.

How to connect to your new Mac OSX synergy server from Windows

Now that you have the synergy server running on your mac, you need to connect to it via the synergy application in Windows.

If you didn’t do it in the earlier step, download synergy+ for Windows and install it.

Next, open Synergy+ and select “Use another computer’s shared keyboard and mouse (client)” and type in the IP or hostname of your mac and click Start.

If all steps were followed correctly, you should now be sharing the keyboard and mouse, and should be able to move your mouse to each screen as if you had a dual monitor setup.

Start synergy server when a user logs in

The last thing you’ll want to do is to make sure synergy starts every time you log in. To do this, you’ll want to create a LoginHook

First, launch a terminal window and become root:

sudo su -

Create a folder to store your LoginHook script:

mkdir -p /Library/LoginWindow

In this folder, create a file called LoginHook.sh that contains the following text:

#!/bin/sh
prog=(/usr/local/bin/synergys --config /path/to/synergy.conf)

### Stop any currently running Synergy client
killall ${prog[0]##*/}

### Start the new client
exec "${prog[@]}"

Make sure the script is executable:

chmod 755 LoginHook.sh

Now create the actual login hook that will call the script we just created:
defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LoginHook /Library/LoginWindow/LoginHook.sh

That’s it! Next time you log into your mac, the synergy server will start, and your windows machine should connect.

Mirror websites using HTTrack

If you are looking for a reliable software application that will mirror a website for offline use, I suggest HTTrack. It is available for Windows 95/98/NT/2K/XP, Linux/Unix/BSD, and MacOSX.

HTTrack is an easy-to-use offline browser utility. It allows you to download a World Wide website from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting html, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.

Windows Vista ready for Service Pack 1

Neil Randall has a nice review of Microsoft’s Windows Vista Service Pack 1. The review covers installation, performance differences, security, and more.

Also, for the hard core gamers, Vista Service Pack 1 will support Direct3D 10.1.

A little over a year after the first appearance of Vista, Service Pack 1 (SP1) is nearly ready for download. [There have been a couple of release snafus, including the accidental release, on 2/21/08, of the 64-bit version.–Editor]. SP1 is a useful but not crucial update to the OS, and one that won’t greatly affect your computing day, at least not outwardly. The bulk of the development effort has gone toward upgrading security subsystems—elements that enterprise clients find appealing but consumers and small-business users won’t really notice (although they’ll feel better knowing about them). The bottom line is that there’s absolutely no reason not to download SP1 (which you’ll receive automatically if you have AutoUpdate turned on), so it’s almost a given that it will become the standard in the very near future.

Read more..

How To Run Linux Applications in Windows

Interested in running Linux Applications in Windows?  andLinux actually loads the Linux kernel on your Windows desktop and makes it appear as though your Linux applications are running like any other Windows application.

Linux fans that need a Windows app or two can take advantage of WINE, but what about Windows fans that need to run Linux apps? If you’re lucky someone has already ported your favorite Linux app over to Windows, but if they haven’t, you might want to check out andLinux.

Read more.. 

Great writeup on How to Switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org:

How to set up OpenOffice.org to work how you want it with templates and clip art, configurations, shortcuts, and more (download the PDF file for this article)

Switching to OpenOffice.org: Step 1

The first step, of course, is to get the software. Here are some options:

Then install OpenOffice.org. Just double-click the downloaded file, or follow the instructions for installing it for your operating system here. http://download.openoffice.org/common/instructions.html

Read more..

There are many of you out there who are looking to make a change from your current Windows operating system to the Linux operating system. Some of you may have doubts, many of you most likely have questions before taking the plunge. I’ll try to point you in the right directions before you switch from Windows to Linux.

Back up your important files

You’ll want to back up all important Windows files including documents, media, bookmarks, application settings, etc. Throw everything on a USB key, CD/DVD, or an external hard drive.

Grab a live CD of the distribution you are going to install

A live CD will allow you to ensure that your hardware is compatible with the Linux distribution as well as give you a feel of the desktop usability. You should be able to gather if the distribution you choose is right for you by running the live CD. However, not all Linux distributions contain a Live CD version, so be sure to check if the Linux distro you are choosing has one available.

Determine what functionality you will need

If you are a normal user who mostly enjoys browsing the web, using e-mail, chatting with friends online, and using media, then Linux is a great option. If you enjoy playing popular computer games, you want to check with Cedega to see if your favorite game is compatible before you switch from Windows to Linux.

Check out Distrowatch

Distrowatch has a variety of useful information from user reviews of many Linux distributions as well as the current most popular distros.

Check out Wine and CrossOver Office

Wine is an open source application that allows you to run a variety of Windows applications. CrossOver Office is similar, and built on top of Wine to give the user an easier experience in installing and using the Windows applications on your Linux desktop. Be sure to browse through the compatibility list before assuming your favorite Windows application works with CrossOver Office.

Understand basic Linux commands

You can’t always rely on the beauty of the desktop with most of todays Linux distributions. What if X crashes and you’re sent to the command line? Rather then rebooting, check out this site for a straight forward guide on some of the basic Linux commands.

Read the article Alternatives to Windows Programs

Also check out Open Source Alternatives and The Linux Alternative Project.

Read the article 20 Must Read HOWTOs and Guides for Linux

This article is very useful to new and old Linux users and contains a variety of quality guides gathered throughout the years.

Can you think of any other tasks to complete before making the switch to Linux? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Replacing Windows with Linux

There is a great article written by Ashton Mills at APCMag titled SUPERGUIDE: The Open Source Challenge. How to replace Windows completely with Ubuntu.

Ashton essentially delves into the article with the assumption that Windows does everything we need, and explores the possibility of Linux and open source measuring up with a rating system.

When I was first given this task I had to sit and blink a few times, if for nothing else than dramatic pause. I’m a self-confessed Linux nut, as some of you may know, but even I’m cautious to do away with Windows completely. There’s a reason I have a dual-boot Windows and Linux machine. Several of them, in fact.
But have I just been conditioned into using Windows because of past experience, or applications, or file formats, or the myriad other reasons that make Windows a comfort zone because it’s all so familiar?

Check the rest of it out.

Microsoft Is Embracing Open Source..

Amazing isn’t it? According to Scott Guthrie, a General Manager for Microsoft’s Developer Division, Microsoft will be releasing the source code for the .NET framework libraries for .NET 3.5 and VS 2008 releases due later this year.

From Scott’s blog:

We’ll begin by offering the source code (with source file comments included) for the .NET Base Class Libraries (System, System.IO, System.Collections, System.Configuration, System.Threading, System.Net, System.Security, System.Runtime, System.Text, etc), ASP.NET (System.Web), Windows Forms (System.Windows.Forms), ADO.NET (System.Data), XML (System.Xml), and WPF (System.Windows). We’ll then be adding more libraries in the months ahead (including WCF, Workflow, and LINQ). The source code will be released under the Microsoft Reference License (MS-RL).

This is a positive step forward for Microsoft and a great advantage for .NET developers. I look forward to hearing more open source initiatives by Microsoft in the future.

Update: Turns out I, as well as a few others, misunderstood the news yesterday about the .NET framework libraries being released as open source. In actuality, Microsoft is releasing the source code for .NET as shared source, meaning that developers will simply be able to BROWSE the source code, but will be unable to make changes to the code itself. Basically, you can look – but you can’t touch. So, this isn’t really an embrace of open source and I stand corrected.

5 Ways to run Windows Applications in Linux

As we all know, one of the major concerns for a user switching from a Windows operating system to a Linux distribution is what Windows software will work on Linux as well as how it can be done. Many users stray away from running Windows because of the simple fact that some must needed Windows applications can not perform under Wine. Tristan Rhodes, The Open Source Advocate has a nicely written article describing 5 ways to use Windows applications in Linux.

  1. Use an open source alternative instead
  2. Buy a commercial product that was designed for Linux
  3. Use Wine to run the application in Linux
  4. Run Windows in a Virtual Machine
  5. Run the application on a remote Windows system

Click here to find out more details for each method of running Windows applications Linux.

5 Advantages of using Linux over Windows

So, you’re a new, or fairly moderate Linux user, who wants to know what the true advantages of Linux over Windows are? There are several advantages of Linux, and of course, some disadvantages to using the Linux operating system. This article covers 5 advantages of using Linux over Windows, and lists a few disadvantages as well. Read the rest of this entry