Remote Desktop Sharing

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2004-09-24 Print this article Print

GNOME 2.8 now includes a remote desktop sharing feature that works with VNC (virtual network computing) to enable users to make their desktops viewable or controllable by others. This is a great capability for conducting demonstrations or for soliciting aid from IT personnel. (This is a feature that KDE has included since its 3.1 release.)

The provision for locking down and remotely managing desktop configurations is also important for enterprise desktop deployments, and both the GNOME and KDE projects have been hard at work building this functionality into their products.

GNOME handles configuration management through its GConf framework, but the tool that ships with GNOME for managing GConf—called GConf-editor—is fairly spartan and not particularly easy to use. The GConf-editor version in GNOME 2.8 has gotten a bit better, as it now supports searching through the Windows-registry-like keys in which GConf stores settings. However, this utility falls well short of the excellent management services settings that Sun Microsystems Inc. has built atop GConf for its Java Desktop System.

Click here to read Labs review of Suns Java Desktop System.
KDE 3.3 handles lockdown through a system called Kiosk, for which theres a GUI utility called Kiosktool that we used to create and manage profiles of KDE settings for groups or individual users.

As for profile-management capabilities, Kiosktool is much more well-developed than GConf-editor, which does not address these capabilities (although GConf-tool enabled us to determine more individual settings than did Kiosktool).

A nice improvement we found in GNOME 2.8 was the capability for auto-mounting removable devices such as USB (Universal Serial Bus) thumbdrives . This improvement makes GNOME much easier to use and eliminates the need for acquiring root permissions and hitting the command line just to copy a few files to or from your machine.

Improved file-type handling was another improvement that we were pleased to find in GNOME 2.8. GNOME developers have cut quite a bit of the complexity out of selecting which applications to use for opening particular file types.

Quality configuration tools have long been a strength of KDE, and 3.3s Samba setup module is the best weve seen.

We appreciated how the setup dialog provided a link to the man page for smb.conf. Linux man pages contain a lot of useful material, and it makes sense to tie these resources, which are typically accessed from the command line, into a systems graphical tools.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at

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As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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