Remote Desktop to WinXP from of possiblities

This may sound vague. Why would you want to remote access your winXP box from Linux. Hmmm, think again.

Scenario 1: You have linux at work and winXP at home and you want to access some of the files.
Scenario 2: You have XP at work and linux at home and you wish to work from home
Scenario 3: Just for fun ;)

First glance and you would just reject the possibility of ever being able to do so. C'mon different OS's. WinxP's closed APIs. etc. Think again. Let me show you the wonders of technology and ofcourse linux.

1. Make sure you have activated remote desktop in your WinXP box.
2. Install grDesktop
#apt-get install grdesktop

3.Run Gnome Remote Desktop

4. The interface is very similar to windows remote desktop client. Enter the system ip, login username etc.

5. Congrats! You are in. You are in full control now ;)

6. A follow up on the wireless ad-hoc tutorial I posted few months back.
You can connect and disconnect your internet connection on the gateway win XP pc from wherever you are in your home. Another cool thing is shutting down the gateway pc after you are done surfing. Though the remote desktop doesn't give you explicit shutdown shortcut, we can still shutdown from the cmd. Simply go to Start > Programs > accessories > command prompt and type
shutdown -s

This opens to a world of possibilities. Though the speed of your experience depends on the underlying network and the rfc WinXP API, you can still browse the net, read docs, run presentations easily. I tried playing Counter Strike but the results weren't encouraging. Anyways, it opens you to a world of new possibilities to explore and play around.

Hope you enjoyed the article..and Kudos to open source ;)

Life without Windows - Playing with Pdfs

PDFs have become the most dominant document format in recent times. Here we discuss how to manipulate and create pdfs in linux

PDF Creation

If you OO Writer for all your spreadsheet needs, there is an "Export Directly to pdf" button on the toolbar which directly creates a pdf for you.

If you have a heavily MSWord Formatted doc file, OO won't work that well.

1. Either you can try using wv (a word viewer library)

eg. apt-get install wv
wvPDF [input doc] [output pdf]

High chances that even this fails to give you the perfect file.

2. Use an online coverter, the ones offered by Acrobat or Zamzar
I always use this service for all my pdf conversion needs.

Some other Tips

Manipulating PDF files - Using PDFtk

* Merge PDF Documents
* Split PDF Pages into a New Document
* Rotate PDF Documents or Pages
* Decrypt Input as Necessary (Password Required)
* Encrypt Output as Desired
* Fill PDF Forms with X/FDF Data and/or Flatten Forms
* Generate FDF Data Stencil from PDF Forms
* Apply a Background Watermark or a Foreground Stamp
* Report PDF Metrics such as Metadata and Bookmarks
* Update PDF Metadata
* Attach Files to PDF Pages or the PDF Document
* Unpack PDF Attachments
* Burst a PDF Document into Single Pages
* Uncompress and Re-Compress Page Streams
* Repair Corrupted PDF (Where Possible)

These are some of the options available. Cool eh !

apt-get install pdftk

pdftk myfile.pdf cat 1 output myfile-pg1.pdf dont_ask

The above command extracts the first page off your pdf and stores it to a destination pdf file.
The possibilities are endless. Look at man pdftk or pdftk --help for more options.

Life Without Windows - MSOffice

The Struggle Continues

I have been using my fc6 and ubuntu fiesty for a year now. Till now never had I felt the need to install windows as every xp software had a free and opensource alternative in linux.

The "Real" need came when I had to update my resume and send it to the HR manager of a company for their graduate management associate program.

The last time, I had created my resume on the ever reliable MS Word 2003, but now when I opened it in OO Writer, it looked confused.It couldnt read the page breaks, the table formattings etc.Things looked cluttered and messy. C'mon I am applying for a job here. You cant' do this to me, OO. Shucks!
Frantically, I started searching for other online alternatives. I tried Google Docs, Zoho Writer etc. but to no use. The nice smart formatting, page breaks, paragraphing were all missing.

I finally decided to install windows. The immediate problem I had to address was that I had used up all my Hard disk space on the two distros I was using. Moreover, the xp cd I have is the proprietary Recovery disk that came along with my laptop. The smart guys at HP had forgotten to include a partition detection tool and the stupid installer assumes that you plan to do a completely fresh xp setup on your laptop.

Even the instructions on the cover are scary "Please note, backup all your data before performing System Restore. System Restore deletes all partitions and install a fresh factory setup on your laptop"

What about folks who already have some other OS resting on an another partition? To make matters worse, the xp key provided works only when installed off the recovery disk.

With so many issues, I had to rethink. I had to install MS Office some way. The first thing that came to my mind was Wine, the free "not" an emulator thingy.
The setup began fine, the console showed some warnings but It still seemed to work, till the time came when the installation was adding registery enteries. Immediately the setup sent a panic signal and the installation abrupted with a message. Wine didn't crash but I guessed some registery settings and dll were missing.

I tried cedega next. I had been using it to play Counter Strike and other similar games. It had also shown some great promise when it ran some small win32 programs beautifully. Was it up for the Office challenge ?
Cedega crashed immediately when I asked it to start the office installation. Disappointing, but hey it was always meant for games ;)

Finally, I resorted to Crossover Office, which boasted support for office 2003 and other common win32 software. I downloaded the trial copy off
Installation was easy, setup was effortless and in no time, my Word 2003 was up and running.

The strange part was that it ran faster than when It was on my xp. Nevertheless, for the next 30 days, I can still enjoy ms office and later I might think of buying a retail license or request them for a free student license.

So what did we learn today?

The Moral of the story is that MS Office is still the undisputed king of professional office productivity tools. OpenOffice may be good but it still needs to come a long way to support doc files and provide better formatting options to users,, and yes, its interface isnt exactly that wonderful.
We also learnt, you dont always need windows to run windows exclusive programs. So before you get frustrated and start looking for a reason to reinstall windows, think again.
I'll try to cover some windows alternatives that will save your life on linux in later weeks. Till then enjoy and have fun ;)