If you haven’t noticed from previous screen shots in my weblog, I use KDE as my desktop environment on my Ubuntu desktop. Aside from a few bits of software, I use mostly KDE software for my desktop work. It has a really great way of not only working out of the box, but the feedback and updates (every month!) are great too. I might also like it a lot too since a lot of the code base is written with C++.
Whenever you connect to a new network on Windows1, it asks for the network type. Now, some might disregard this window, but this determines the amount of information that the platform should expose the new network. If you’re a casual Linux user with no real tinkering, not much about your system is ever visible over the network2. However, software like Samba, ZeroConf/Avahi and others can eventually a bit of a hassle to constantly switch on and off.
Using Avahi to look at my local network over ZeroConf, I get a bit of interesting information:
Above, you can see my local network chat capabilities (via iChat or Adium
for OS X and Telepathy IM on KDE),
sane used for discovering scanners,
machine discovery and
udisk abstraction so I can publish drives over Avahi.
Talk about some nifty tech! Thing is, I’d have to manually turn these things
on and off in order to get them hidden from other users. Maybe I don’t want
to want my local chat presence to be visible in some networks but I’d rather
it to be shown when I’m in others. All of the functionality and logic to
create “network profiles”, or per-network configuration blocks for
applications is here.
Now, the concept of just finding other laptops can be annoying. But it’s definitely useful if you don’t want to drop a file into Dropbox or Google Drive just to share (and it’s faster). Sometimes just using tools like Samba (on Linux for access to file servers on other Linux, OS X and Windows machines) would do. I’ve always found this to be the best way to send files quickly especially if you don’t want to slow down potential network speeds. KDE does have an way of incorporating this, but so far it seems to be only with Samba, for the moment.
I’m working to bring other remote document storage solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive natively into KDE using KIO so it’s something to look forward to in coming months. The code will be available on its 0.1 release sometime in March.
Though not installed by default, the KDE configuration module (known as KCM) for UFW (uncomplicated firewall) is a straight forward tool to setting up and getting ufw on your system. I have to admit, though, it isn’t really friendly for novice users; it could make do with some template profiles and I’ve considered patching it for just this purpose. But outside of that, I can provide the profile I use for those interested.
It’s a old wife’s tale about Linux not getting viruses and trojans but it
doesn’t happen enough to the casual desktop user of Linux or BSD (given our growing
size) to not be safe. With
clamav, one can stay relatively secure and
prevent their systems from known infection streams.
When it comes to networking, KDE does it right. KIO is fantastic for abstracting network resources as a local file system and the use of Avahi and Samba only further enhances that.