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4 August, 2005
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Linux for Windows Users

In Pursuit of Good Desktop Linux:

Network Neighborhood and MS Windows Partitions

All the MS Windows partitions on the Pogo Altura64 test system were available in the Konqueror File Manager that comes with Mandriva Linux -- right out-of-the-box.

Mike Angelo -- 4 August 2005 (C) -- Page 3

Article Index

More Terms and Simplified Definitions

NFS: Network file System, the native Linux networking file system.

Remote Computer: any computer on a computer network, including the Internet, which you access through your local computer.

Samba: A software suite originally developed by Andrew Tridgell to work with Microsoft's SMB network protocol. Samba allows Linux-based computers to access shared files on Windows-based computers over a computer network, and vice-verse.

Share: a file, directory, printer, or other computer resource or device that its owner has opened for sharing with other users on a network

SMB: Server Message Block protocol, the networking protocol used by Microsoft operating systems.

  • Mandriva Limited Edition 2005 - Download Edition

Mandriva also has an assortment of GNU-Linux products ranging from a free download edition to high-end enterprise products. MandrakeSoft recently acquired Conectiva. The name of the combined company was then changed to Mandriva. For this article, we looked at the free download version of Mandriva Limited Edition 2005 -- the first Linux product released by Mandriva since MandrakeSoft's recent acquisition of Conectiva.

All the MS Windows partitions on the Pogo Altura64 test system were available in the Konqueror File Manager that comes with Mandriva Linux -- right out-of-the-box. Please see Figure 3, below.

It only takes a few mouse clicks to get what amounts to a network neighborhood going in Mandriva Limited Edition 2005, download edition. You start by clicking on the K Menu (start) button on the task bar. Then click on Internet > File Transfer > Smb4K.

Figure 4, below, shows SMB4K opened on the KDE desktop in Mandriva Limited Edition 2005, download edition. It shows the share, Duron-/HP listed in the sidebar and mounted in the mounted-shares windowpane. All it took to do that was clicking on the workgroup, W, then clicking on the computer name, Duron-.

Double-clicking on the Duron-/HP share listed in the SMB4K sidebar produced the list of all the subdirectories in the Duron-/HP share and caused the Duron-/HP share to be mounted in the Konqueror File manager under smb4k. Please see Figure 5, below. That's close enough to out-of-the-box access to shared files on other computers on a LAN to meet our good desktop Linux criteria, relatively speaking.

Mandriva Limited Edition 2005 also comes with LinNeighborhood, a great tool for providing access to directories and files that reside on other computers on your LAN. However, LinNeighborhood is not installed as part of the default selection of packages installed when you first install Mandriva. Thus it takes just a little more effort to get LinNeighborhood up and running than it takes to use SMB4K in Mandriva Linux.

And with a little more effort, you can implement LinNeighborhood in such a way that you can have a Network Neighborhood in the Konqueror file manager. Please see Figure 6, on page 4. If you are using Mandriva Limited Edition 2005, you might want to give LinNeighborhood a try.

Figure 3. All the MS Windows partitions on the Pogo Altura64 test system were available in the Konqueror File Manager that comes with Mandriva Linux -- right out-of-the-box.

Do you like the idea of setting up a Network Neighborhood in your Linux file system, but you want to stick with SMB4K? If so, you also can use the same concept we used with LinNeighborhood to customize SMB4K to mount shares to a Network Neighborhood directory structure in your Linux installation.

For more information about LinNeighborhood and how to use it to set up a Network Neighborhood in Mandrake Linux, which is now called Mandriva Linux, please see our article, Linux Networking for Windows and Desktop People -- Mandrake 9.1 and LinNeighborhood. For doing that with other distributions, please see our article Linux Networking for Windows and Desktop People.

Incidentally, you can use LinNeighborhood in many other Linux distributions too. So, if you are using a GNU-Linux other than Mandriva or Xandros and you are looking for an easy way to set up access to shared files on other computers on your LAN, give LinNeighborhood a try. Likewise for SMB4K.

Figure 4. SMB4K opened on the KDE desktop in Mandriva Limited Edition 2005, download edition. It shows the share, Duron-/HP listed in the sidebar and mounted in the mounted-shares windowpane.

Which Desktop Linux Is Best?

Don't look for the question, which desktop Linux is best, to be answered today. Only two criteria of what makes a good desktop Linux are considered here, (a) easy access to shared files and devices on other computers on a LAN (out-of-the-box) and (b) easy access to MS Windows directories and files on the local computer (out-of-the-box). There are many other things that go into making a good desktop Linux too.

It might seem to you that we would recommend Xandros over Mandriva because it satisfies both of those criteria -- and also because the look and feel of Xandros is so much like that of MS Windows. But we do not!

Figure 5. Double-clicking on the Duron-/HP share listed in the SMB4K sidebar in Figure 4, above, produced the list of all the subdirectories in the Duron-/HP share and caused the Duron-/HP share to be mounted in the Konqueror File manager under smb4k.

Mandriva does satisfy the easy access to MS Windows directories and files on the local computer -- out-of-the-box. On the other hand, Mandriva does not meet easy access to shared files and devices on other computers on a LAN out-of-the-box.

However, it only takes a few mouse clicks for it to do so, which is close enough for us. And Mandriva also has a look and feel that is much like that of MS Windows -- but not to the extent that Xandros has that look and feel. But all-in-all, Mandriva is a good Desktop Linux.


  • See The Xandros Deal-Breaker on Page 4 ----->

  • An Icon for Konqueror

    Mandriva Limited Edition 2005 does not have an icon on the desktop for launching the Konqueror Browser. However, the Konqueror browser is installed as part of the KDE installation on Mandriva Limited Edition 2005.

    You easily can put a Konqueror browser icon on the Mandriva desktop. Simply place the mouse pointer on an empty part of the KDE desktop. Then alternate-click (right-click for right-handed mice and left-click for left-handed mice). Next click Create New > File > Link to Application, That pops-up the desktop-icons properties box.

    In the text-box in the General tab type Konqueror Browser. Then click the gear-wheel icon, scroll down to the Konqueror blue-globe icon, select the Konqueror icon, and click OK.

    Next click on the Application tab. Type Konqueror in the Description text-box and '/usr/bin/konqueror' (make sure you inlcude the single quote marks) in the Command text-box. Then click OK and you have your Konqueror browser item on the desktop. Now all you need to do is to drag the Konqueror icon just where you want it on the desktop.

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