Remote Desktop Into Windows from Ubuntu Pays The Bills

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 06/11/2012

I’ll never touch another Windows machine, but I guess remote desktopping into it is okay.

Okay, time for a journal-cut early in the day. I got some writing about what I’m doing with the FAQ section of my site out of my system. Now, for the work at hand. The main thing is preparing for a trip that’s going to take place on Wednesday, out and back on a red-eye to help out with a client. I need to know more about a particular product that is very related to the subject-matter of the post I just made.

The other bit of work has been dragging on for weeks, stuff I need to do for Tameka, but which dramatically expands the way the system works, turning stateless webhead servers into something that can work as a temporary file-cache, and email out the results before reverting to memory-less webhead mode again. I have almost all the issues worked out, and it’s just a matter of hitting it home. Mondays are always good days for this, but it is in conflict with the final review of a deck that’s coming up in 2 hours! Well, it’s more important to review the deck, and get all my supplementary subject-knowledge in order before I dive into programming again. Sorry, Tameka!

Even for this, I’ll make the journal entry interesting and worth it. This is one of the few tasks I’ve never gotten myself off of Windows for. It is both performed in Powerpoint, and only accessible through a network drive. My main machines these days are a personal Commodore 64x, and a personal Macbook Air. I’ve put the official company licensed MSOffice on my Macbook Air, so I can use Outlook, and not have to suffer juryrigging Thunderbird or Evolution on my C64x to work with Exchange 2010 server. It’s a sad state of proprietary vendors locking you out of their infrastructure, just because you’re driving nails in their coffin. Their nerve!

Anyway, I’m not bothering with domain membership for either my C64x or Macbook Air, because it makes me beholden to an IT department on equipment that belongs to me. Never good. I make it a non-issue by doing everything that requires domain membership on a IT-provided laptop, that I keep around for just this purpose. The times I HAVE TO use Windows seems to be becoming less and less frequent, and it feels like my main reason to have Windows these days is so that I can patch it and keep it up to date.

I’m never directly working on the laptop. Instead, I terminal serve into via Remmina on my Ubuntu Unity desktop dealing with the awful full-screen issues by never ACTUALLY going full-screen, but rather allowing the window decorations of Unity to cut back a little real-estate of my Windows terminal, but in exchange, my Windows terminal can live and behave nicely on one monitor of a dual-monitor setup, without any of the funkiness of full-screen mode. Ubuntu Unity Precise is ready for prime time in so many ways… but not in this way. The work I had to do to get an acceptable remote desktop to Windows, including figuring out the “magic numbers” to get the right resolution that produces neither extra black gutters nor scroll-bars in a window on one monitor of a dual-monitor system is unacceptable. But I had figured it out once, and so now day-to-day remote desktop from Ubuntu to Windows is actually quite easy.

So now, I have the Powerpoint loaded in read-only mode in Windows through the terminal server client on Ubuntu, as my co-worker in Atlanta works on it. Of course, my copy will not reflect his ongoing edits, as it would if this were a Google presentation. The things wrong with being on the Windows platform these days are so glaring to someone who has seen better ways. Okay, flash-forward through almost the rest of the day. Went through the review and practice session calls. There’s a good team on this, and my presence on Wednesday is almost going to be superfluous, seeing as how the person who created the deck and is most familiar with the client and the deck will also be leading the discussion. My role will be the expert from afar to insert profound but perfectly applicable generalities, backed up by hard-hitting facts about the client’s site, and interesting facts about a new vendor we are starting to work with.

So, it is my role to be as familiar as possible with the client’s site, along with the vendor, and the most humanized way to describe the strategies we’re recommending. I’m there to restate things, add color, talk about clients (not by name) with similar situations and how we helped them, and generally to back up the team with an “outsider’s” perspective.

If I were to put a closing point on this particular journal entry, it would probably be that no matter how ambitious you are in your work and intent, it’s sometimes just “being there” and offering your voice, and being fully engaged how you earn your paycheck. This effect both delays the best-laid schemes of mice and men, and forces you to be on Microsoft software for file compatibility and easy access to the corporate network.