Using Linux GUI Apps on Windows (Vista, 7)

On an ongoing project I need to work on a Linux machine to run some tools. Normally, I either use Putty to use a command line interface, WinSCP for copying files to & fro and TightVNC for a remote desktop into the Linux machine.

This is when my friend Anindya recommended using XMing – a X-Server and Launcher for Windows. As you may (or may not) know, the Linux GUI shell runs in a “client-server” mode. You can actually go ahead and use a client to run the components on the server and get the view pulled to your machine running Windows. Now, this has been possible earlier as well by doing things like installing GNOME or KDE for Windows, as well as other solutions. However,  these have been fairly cumbersome to use, screws up your Windows installation and generally painful.

XMing on the other hand,  lets you run these apps directly on the Linux machine with their graphical interface as a proper window on your Windows machine. And installing and using Xming is a breeze as well as a small install only. So, if you need to work with X-Windows from within Windows, then Xming is something you should use.

BTW, XMing works perfectly on Windows 7, including showing thumbnails of all the running apps and allowing you to do Aero Peek within them. Take a look at the screen below.

Using XMing to run a gnome-terminal and a revisor session from a Linux machine on Windows 7. Note that the thumbnails show the two apps properly and you can even “peek” between them.

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Categories: Linux | Windows 7 | Windows Vista | Rave

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Windows 7, F.E.A.R. 2 and My Notebook

I’m an occasional, avid gamer and once in a while, when I get some free time, I like to go ahead and shoot some baddies on screen. That’s why I bought a fairly expensive Dell XPS M1710 almost exactly 2 years ago.

After recently installing Windows 7, I really hadn’t tried out any games. But when the F.E.A.R. 2 demo was released last week, I went ahead and downloaded the whopping 1.76 GB demo file to try out.

The install on Windows 7 was smooth – although I was surprised that it required me to install DirectX 9c. Since Windows 7 has DirectX 10.1, I assumed that it would be backward compatible. Anyway, after installing and starting it up, I went into the Graphics Options screen and cranked everything to maximum settings. The only thing I turned off was Motion Blur (gives me a headache) and FSAA and AF to 2x each.

It’s great to note that my 2 year old notebook can still play the latest game at 1920x1200, 2xFSAA, 2xAF and all other settings at Maximum at a very decent playable frame rate! Yipee!!!

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Categories: Windows 7 | Gadgets

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My Windows 7 WEI

One of the changes in Windows 7 is that the Windows Experience Index scale has gone up to 7.9 (from 5.9 in Vista). This is the WEI on my 2 year old notebook.


As you can see, it’s a fairly decent score – although not cutting edge. The pleasantly surprising bit is the Aero graphics index – 7.1! This is one a now quite ancient nVidia GeForce Go 7950 GTX with 512 MB VRAM. Yay!

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Categories: Windows 7 | Rave

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Windows 7, Hosted Exchange & Outlook 2007

Having installed Windows 7 and trying to move to it as my primary desktop OS in the last couple of days, I suddenly came across an almost showstopper for me. After installing Office 2007 and Service Pack 1, I tried connecting to my company email account. Now this account is on a Hosted Exchange 2007 service from Znet India. This is where I ran into the issue.

For some reason whenever I setup the new account and reached till the point where one had to enter the username and setup RPC over HTTP (called Outlook Anywhere now), it would then prompt me to for the username and password to verify my account. And keep doing this in an endless loop.

I even tried repaving my install from scratch but ran into the same issue. On Vista, the same process verified the account in a jiffy. After a lot of trials and errors, I finally figured out the issue.

In Hosted Exchange account names are basically your email address – in the format. However, internally in the Exchange Active Directory this is not how they are stored. Typically , this would be in the format ADSDomain\name_internetdomain. For some reason, on Windows 7, this mapping doesn’t seem to go through correctly.


So, in the dialog box show above, enter the username as your email address. But in the login prompt that comes when you click the “Check Name”, you need to enter the actual ADS username that you have.

So how do you find out what your ADS username is? Simple: Open OWA and login to your account. Then go to Options | Change Password. You will see your actual username here. Use this for logging in to your Hosted Exchange account.

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Categories: Windows 7 | Tips

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Tech Crystal Ball 2009

As the year is truly under way now, here are a few predictions I can think of in the technology world that is going to happen this year.

Hardware/Gadgets become cheaper and more powerful

We’ve seen this happen the last couple of years – with dual, quad and now oct-core systems readily available. Devices such as high end mobiles are also becoming quite popular as are Netbooks and LCD TVs. All of these will continue to grow as well as becoming more affordable – both to beat the recession as well as due to innovations in this area.

Hosted Paid Services or Pay-Per-Use Model becomes more popular

Most small to medium companies will start finding value in using hosted services for many of their IT infrastructure requirements rather than doing it all themselves. Hosted Exchange, SharePoint and CRM are going to take off this year in a large way – even in India. (Believe me, I recently moved to this model and it’s not just cheaper, it’s much lesser headache to manage.)

The Pay-Per-Use model will also catch on – for services that are required on a less frequent use basis. For instance, in companies that do not require all the high-end features of Office installed on every desktop, it might make a lot of sense to have a PPU model for certain advanced tasks that can be used as and when required by designated people.

Online Storage Balloons Up

Currently you get a good 5-25 GB in most online storage areas – however I see this to grow to the range of 100-250GB this year for free storage and practically unlimited for paying customers. Everything – documents, photos, music and movies will be allowed to sync back to the “cloud” as it were.

Corollary: Optical Media Starts to go away

As the online storage area heats up, I predict that the requirement for offline optical media will go away – may not happen completely this year – but this year will be that start to the end of optical media.

FOSS vs. Microsoft – the war continues

We won’t see a real respite from the FOSS/MS war. The FOSS camp is going to play the “free” card in these recession times to a lot of people, while MS will need to pull up their socks and show a more cautious approach to handling sales of their products. The PPU and Hosted models will be a great help to them in this war. MS of course has a number of products in the pipeline that can make a huge difference. FOSS does have its own set of drawbacks – like stagnating product lines (OpenOffice for e.g.) and TCO for subscription based supports being higher than MS costs. Both sets will need to offer much better value proposition to customers.

Microsoft - Winners: Windows 7, Office 14, Visual Studio 2010

Windows 7 is going to be the big hype product of the year. The “mistakes” of Vista are hopefully soon going to be forgotten with the pre-beta and the leaked beta already getting excellent reviews. If MS pushes it out this year especially giving a better value proposition including hyping cost savings thanks to “GREEN” systems, it will have a sure-fire winner in it’s hands.

Office 14 hasn’t got too much coverage – but a web-based version – with almost all the features makes perfect sense for the PPU/Hosted model and can help drive up adoption. We’ve yet to see other features that make it into this release, though.

Microsoft – Losing Ground: Windows Mobile, Internet Explorer

I predict that WM and IE will continue to lose ground to others – unless MS does something very, very innovative in both of them. WM is a great platform for business users. However, the interface clunkiness as well as long time gaps between updates don’t let it really go the way it should.

Internet Explorer 8 is right round the corner and is a great browser. But I still feel that there is so much more that it could have done than Web Slices and Accelerators. Hopefully it won’t be plagued with bugs once it comes out.

GREEN Computing

A lot of companies are going to go GREEN – it terms of energy efficiency of their infrastructure. Both hardware and software can help this out tremendously. Vista and Win7’s “sleep” functionality, Hyper-V based server consolidation, efficient cooling and other technologies will become part of mainstream and recommended to use.

All-in-all, this year will have its own ups-and-downs. These are my (current) predictions. I might revisit them 6 months down and see if there are any changes I think that might happen. Here’s wishing you a Happy, Prosperous, Productive and Safe New Year 2009.

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Categories: Microsoft | Windows 7 | Windows Vista | Internet | Gadgets

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