Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Many Projects Continue

It's been a busy few weeks, and I wanted to blog about our projects before another week slips. 


I'll be heading over to Orlando next week Tuesday for SuseCon.  If you are attending and we have corresponded, make sure that you say hi.  Some of the GNOME user experience people will be coming back to Largo on Friday to get a site visit of our environment and get to see hundreds of users on GNOME.  I've built a slide show of customizations that I made to GNOME in order to reduce support calls.  Hopefully some of these ideas can be professional integrated into a future version.  I also will be giving a presentation on Saturday during OpenSuseCon about enterprise use of OpenSuse and how we used a mixture of community builds, corporate builds and MS Windows.

Acrobat MIME UI Customization

I've gotten some comments questioning customizations made to the desktop, and the comments are very valid when looking long term.  It's easy to implement these changes with Glade/Python and monitor support calls and see what works.  As just mentioned, I am hoping some of these concepts can be used in future GNOME.  We had an interesting support call from a user that wanted to fax a PDF as part of normal business flow.  The technique they were using was to import into LibreOffice and then fax from within that software.  PDF imports into Draw for editing, and it's not the right software for this purpose.  All they wanted to do was just send it through the fax.  On the command line, this is a trivial:  pdftops the file and send it to Hylafax.  So I just added it as a single click to the MIME UI that appears when you double-click on a PDF.  Select the option, type in the phone number and out it goes.  I used this opportunity to touch the art and widgets.  New feature is circled in green.

iPads And GNOME

I have mentioned previously that a top priority is being able to get our iPad users logged into the GNOME desktop.  With NX not yet ready for this, I am once again looking at VNC.  This will provide this feature inside our buildings on our internal WiFi and is a good first step.  I hadn't looked at the Remoter app in about a year and it's advanced a good deal.  I was able to connect to a VM clone of the GNOME server with no problems and all of the code that I had in there last year for beta testing was still working.  The customizations I made last year with VNC were related to setting the right DISPLAY variable to be used within our infrastructure and also ensuring that GNOME and avant-window-navigator understand that PULSE is not available.  The one new issue was testing the iPad 3 retina display.  So I configured the session to run at 2048x1536.  It worked, but as I suspected it was far too small to use.  So I tested a few resolutions and found that around 1280x
962 seems to be a sweet spot.  Big enough to see, with more canvas than the default 1024x768 of the older iPads.  I created both portrait and landscape profiles and they worked very well.  Here are some shots of the testing in 1280x962.  Speed over the WiFi is excellent and very usable.  An application such as Xournal can be opened and you can write over a PDF file crisply.

Zimbra Email Update

The Office Administrators who tested Zimbra liked it and it's now moving back to the Governance Committee for their thoughts and guidance.  Possibly this is the end of Groupwise and Evolution here at Largo.

Looking forward to next week!


Anonymous said...

Have you looked at xpra as an alternative to nx/vnc? It combines the advantage of nx/vnc allowing to disconnect from a session and to reconnect from different place and it is much, much easier to set up than nx.

And what are your plans regarding GNOME 3? With GNOME 2 being abandoned by distributions and GNOME 3 fallback mode being scheduled for removal, GNOME Shell doesn't seem to be suitable for thinclients?

Dave Richards said...

@anonymous: I have looked over Xpra in the past and have wanted to do a back burner project sometime to see how it works. The problem that we are trying to solve is iPads. We have no problems with connecting to GNOME with Windows and Mac. No one wants a laptop anymore and iPads are exploding in use.

My initial testing was that GNOME 3 did not work over remote DISPLAY, but I believe this has since been resolved with some fallback code. But I have not yet started a project to test it again. GNOME 2 solves all of our needs at this time and is stable, but we will be moving in that direction in the next year.

Anna Z. said...

Hi Dave,
I'm looking forward to meet you next week in SuseCon/Largo.

Just out of curiosity. What would people use GNOME for on an iPad?

Also, Where do people keeps documents right now? I read that you are looking for cloud solutions. Are they also keeping documents locally? On the server or thin clients?

Anonymous said...

Have you tried setting the resolution to 2048x1536 and then setting the DPI in the X session accordingly, to scale the UI? Most of the GNOME UI is scalable.

mike said...

Are you using Gnome in fallback mode or is that Gnome 2 on SLED? Do the users you administer use Gnome 3 or Gnome 2?