Tag Archives: windows

Synergy Plus

I feel very behind the times.  One of my favorite tools has not been maintained for years.  BUT, there is a fork of it that is maintained:  http://code.google.com/p/synergy-plus/

Even with a KVM, this additional tool is great.  I have a dual-monitor setup where one monitor is on a KVM.  The second monitor on my desktop system and my laptop screen are dedicated to those systems.  With the KVM I can make either desktop bigger, but since I spend most of my time with my laptop (for work), Synergy+ lets me quickly drift over to my desktop and deal with anything displaying on the secondary screen (IRC, music, etc.).

Defraggler for Daily Defrags

After spending almost an entire weekend getting my Windows HDD defragged I learned a few good lessons.

1. The Windows “Disk Defragmenter” tool is inherently broken when compared to other options that actually defrag the drive.

2. Due to limitations of windows, if your files exceed ~1.7GB, they will stay fragmented in at least two parts and there is nothing you can do about it.

3. Daily execution of defrag is necessary for good system health.

I found a nice tool called Defraggler.  Though I expected miniature muppets to start singing something about a rock, I was not disappointed to instead find a defrag tool that actually works.  At first, I thought it wasn’t quite good enough, but after some reading I learned that excessively large files have to stay fragmented due to FAT32 limitations.

One of the great things about Defraggler is that the developers seemed to understand the need for a daily defrag.  The tool can be run with a “shutdown after defrag” option.  That is brilliant.

Another great thing is the ability to defragment files individually.  This was necessary for me due to the extended amount of time I went without running any kind of defragementation tool.

The visual defragmentation is nice too.  It takes me back to the early days of Norton System Tools.  I almost want to grab the popcorn and watch the little blocks change color.

Launchy makes Windows rock a bit more

While I’m not a big MS Windows fan, I do have to use it on a daily basis.  There are a couple of things that make it a much nicer place to be.  One of those things is Launchy.  I adore the new krunner in KDE4, and Launcy is a bit more like that.  No more crappy “Start > Run” dialog; if I want to type the name of an executable in my %PATH%, I’ll start a command prompt.

With Launchy I can type the name of the application and see options appear.  It’s like a search for the “Start > Programs” menu.

Very nice.

krdc, Windows XP, and bb4win

I am retrying krdc.  There appears to have been a number of nice feature changes including the ability to grab all keys which means all of my keyboard shortcuts in bb4win now work.  However, I notice a few oddities that I need to follow-up with at some point.

  1. If I have my auto-hiding panel at the top of the screen in KDE, it interferes with the krdc icon-bar restoring when I move my cursor to the top of the screen
  2. My mouse cursors don’t appear normally
  3. bbLeanSkin’s feature of edge-snapping does not work
  4. AltKey (non-bb4win) does not work — so my alt-RMB and alt-LMB mouse functionality does not work and I miss it.
  5. GoToMeeting ends up interfering with a lot of the cursor events when I am remoted in — which could just be a krdc issue

I am attempting this setup to determine if this works or if maybe a 4-port KVM might be a better option than my previously thought up crazy scenario.

Why I Chose Linux

There are many jokes among some people why I chose Linux.  I’ll work backwards from least to most familiar.

I decided against Mac mostly based on price.  The second issue was hardware tinkerability (which has improved since their move to the Intel hardware).  The third issue was software tinkerability (I know there are ways to do some of what I want, but certainly not to the extent that I want).  Maybe somewhere in a distant fourth was the ability to emulate some of the Windows games I wanted to run (but I think Parallels can address that now, even down to the DirectX and 3GL rendering).  At the end of the day, if I wanted a computer that “just worked”  I would chose a Mac; it was first on the list for my wife to look at when we replaced her Windows laptop for that very reason.

I decided to abandon Microsoft because of reasons that are probably too volatile to express here.  (I’ve already made the mistake of going contrary to that intention).  I think the least volatile is cost — I didn’t like the accumulating price tag for running the OS.  Ultimately, a “Windows machine” would have kept me compatible with what appears to be the mainstream.  I did have to give up some games (which I no longer really have time for), and a few other trivial pieces of software that I can no longer remember.

I decided against *the system* I really wanted because of cost alone:  a Solaris workstation.  They are nice, but they are priced for companies, not “normal people”.  In my continuing theme of “in the final evaluation” … there is _no_ practical use for me to own a Solaris system.  I just have a lingering soft-spot in my heart for SUN workstations.

My foremost decision on Linux was … can you see the theme … it is free.  Yes, my altruistic step was selfishly financial.  Now, that was my foremost reason.  I do like the fact that I can easily choose the window manager independent of the OS.  I can’t help it, that is something I believe should be separable in an OS because the window manager is not the OS.  But I risk tangenting here, so I’ll stop there.  Probably my dead last reason was the open source factor.  It is neat; but I honestly have never directly interacted with that facet of my decision.  I have compiled a few pieces of software, but have yet to compile a kernel or a window manager.  I could compile software on Mac or Windows if I wanted to so I don’t really see that act as delving into the “open source aspect”.

One of the things I have found very nice is the support and community around the specific distribution I chose.  That was a criteria I shopped around for… so maybe that really should be my second reason.  Yes, believe it or not community support for a “free” operating system exists, and works.  I have been very impressed with the bugs I have filed and the responses I have received in addition to the questions I have posed on the forums or existing answers I have found for my questions.  I know I like to have insight into any given process, and this “feels better” than the “black box bug filing” against other operating systems.  (Aside:  I have heard good stories about Apple and Microsoft support, I have just personally never experienced the same level of quality.  As the saying goes “your mileage may vary”.)

So there it is spelled out in black-and-white for the very first time.  Cost, support, configurability, customizability, tinkerability, and open source (with “open standards” where possible).

That being said, I have run into several pitfalls with Linux; though none yet insurmountable. I’ll leave those to subjects of future posts.