andEs Corner: EasyPeasy On A Cloud

So I have now been with easypeasy (netbook focused independent derivative of Ubuntu Linux) since 1.0 and since I started using it am a total convert. Now up to EP1.5 and it does keep getting better.
It is the best distro for eeepc 701 4G. And probably all netbooks. Of course there are things that can be done even better. But anyway I wanted to briefly let you know how I have now ended up living with easypeasy on a cloud. I have tweeked all over the place, adding, removing, testing and I think finally (well for today at least) here is where I am now.
There will be some technical stuff in here (although it is not a complete “how to”) hopefully showing how I did it… Mostly I will discuss the easypeasy implementation but maybe occasionally there will be scraps of info about opensuse and windows (my other boxes).

My IT Zoo
So again (for those who have read other blogs you can skip this paragraph) a bit about my rather mixed setup: at work I have a windows XP box (yuk) with outlook 2003 (yukkier), at home desktop is opensuse 11.1 and evolution (although even here I have considered easypeasy cos I have got so used to the netbook remixer launcher!). And then there is my eeepc (also using evolution as my PIM) and a couple of mobile phones (nokia for work and SE for play). And a very old laptop almost never used with windows XP on it. And I try to keep everything up2date… Automagically.

Connecting
On my eeepc I use WiCD instead of the normal gnome network manager. Add the repository and install WiCD (gnome-network-manager will then be deinstalled automatically to avoid conflicts) and then it just works:
deb http://apt.wicd.net jaunty extras
wget -q http://apt.wicd.net/wicd.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add –
sudo gpg –keyserver http://deb.opera.com –recv-keys F9A2F76A9D1A0061

PIM Data
So first of all my PIM data is synchronised using the fantastic scheduleworld.com. This seems to have plugins for everything thanks a lot to some really good opensource work from funambol, genesis and syncevolution. Had some problems getting it working on opensuse (weird cos of the Novel – evolution connection) but eventually got all syncing and the biggest problem I had was getting a couple of events doubled. NOTHING deleted and ALL data synced. And I have over 1000 contacts and a busy calendar schedule THANKS to work. I suppose in today’s crazy world I SHOULD be happy about this.

Install syncevolution and follow the general howtos you can find on syncevolution.com & scheduleworld.com which depends on the setup you have. Here’s the package link you will need:
deb http://downloads.syncevolution.org/apt stable main

Here is the repository info for Genesis (which is basically a nice and SIMPLE front end to the rather difficult to understand config files from syncevolution):
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/frederik-elwert/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/frederik-elwert/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main
sudo apt-key adv –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv-keys A5BEC8B5

Email
This is surprisingly the least cloud-ed of all of my data. The only part here is gmail which houses my personal email. My work email stays in outlook where it belongs. Every so often I manually upload my outlook contacts into gmail. I have played with various plugins both in outlook (but this seemed to effect the performance of outlook too much) and earlier with Thunderbird. I gave up with Thunderbird when V2.0 somehow almost ground to a halt – i.e. the performance just got so bad – especially on my eeepc but also not much better on my suse box. If I was running the mozilla projects now I would be focussing #1 on performance for the next versions.

IM
Very simple: using pidgin with my gtalk and yahoo messenger accounts. And skype.

Surfing
Well I spent years with firefox but have recently switched to opera V10 as it is just much more stable and FASTER. Whilst on the firefox path I also tried the prism apps (gmail, googlereader, facebook, twitter, …) but they had some annoying drawbacks such as not taking my firefox download settings but also not being able to save images and in the end on my eeepc I had to pick either the Firefox way or Opera (I only have 4GB of SSD). Also had a look at jolicloud but as this is also seems to be based on firefox/prism it suffers from the same problems. Now a jolicloud based on opera would be good or mozilla speeding up firefox…

One changes I made to the default (interesting for all SSD owners) is I added the line:
Cache Directory4=/tmp
in userprefs section of $HOME/.opera/operaprefs.ini. This forces opera to use /tmp for MOST of its cache files. In the vanilla easypeasy form /tmp is mapped to RAM and so is also cleaned up at reboot. In addition to stop the other major cache topic is goto Options-Advanced-History and unclick “remember content on visited pages”. This not only saves SSD usage but also quite a bit of diskspace but this of course has the disadvantages that regularly visited pages will not be cached by opera thus slowing it all a bit – for me this is preferable.

The Opera repository info:
deb http://deb.opera.com/opera/ sid non-free
gpg –keyserver http://deb.opera.com –recv-keys F9A2F76A9D1A0061

Bookmarks
For bookmarks I am using of course delicious which with opera is a little more complex than it was with firefox but (un)fortunately opera is just so much faster and stable.
If you are using firefox you automatically have delicious as a search engine and just need to get the delicious add-on for the easy tagging icon – this is one HUGE advantage of firefox over opera – i.e. the ease of adding extensions. But then also it is one that I have found is a disadvantage as it tends to push you to bloat the already bloated firefox with rarely used add-ons.
Now using Opera as a browser and wanting to add a search pulldown for delicious requires you to add manually following into a new search type (Tools-Preferences-Search-Add):
http://delicious.com/search?p=%s&chk=&context=search%7C&fr=del_icio_us&lc=

You can ger the bookmarklets at http://delicious.com/help/bookmarklets and then make sure the personal toolbar is visible and then drag the widgets up to the toolbar.

Storage
For my “cloud storage” I am using Dropbox which just works wonderful with nautilus (both on suse & easypeasy) and XP explorer. I am still ok with the free 2GB limit. Using cloud storage on a netbook has various advantages:
– obviously you can easily sync with other devices
– you get your data backed up
– if you use it ruthlessly (like I do) there is little else to be backed up when you decide to update your OS (i.e. there a few config files that I have carefully trimmed that I save but then only once and never again)
What I do recommend (especially based on the sidekick fiasco recently) is of course “somewhere” in your device zoo to backup regularly the complete dropbox directory. I imagine the horror otherwise of one day when dropbox has its first major problem of it syncing zero with all devices.

Dropbox:
either directly via https://www.getdropbox.com/downloading?os=lnx
or better is to add the repositories:
deb http://linux.getdropbox.com/ubuntu jaunty main
deb-src http://linux.getdropbox.com/ubuntu jaunty main
gpg –keyserver pgp.mit.edu –recv-keys 3565780E

Office
If I want to share my docs (often) I am using Zoho & openoffice (OO) and MSOffice plugins and as I ruthlessly save everything to my dropbox it also means the docs are also on dropbox and so all of my other devices. Kind of double clouded but sometimes I like to send people the zoho link e.g. when I want to collaborate with them on a document OR the other extreme I want to give them read only access and then if I want to give them the doc I put it in my drobox public foldder and send then the dropbox link.
As I need to use both OO and MSOffice I keep things simple using microsoft formats. But if I need to, zoho can handle both native formats.
Goto the zoho website to get the plugin for MSOffice and for openoffice goto the openoffice addons page and look for the gdocs_1.6.0.oxt extension (works for both zoho and googledocs).

Social Networking
There are a whole set of tools that can give you a kind of dashboard view of your social networks although mostly twitter and facebook are the only ones well supported. Well I played with lots, settled for a while with gwibber but am now currently using tweetdeck which is an Adobe Air application and lovely so far. The only downside although is it does seem a little CPU intensive but I will learn a bit more.
To do this:
Ensure you have downloaded the latest version of Adobe AIR from
http://get.adobe.com/air
Download the latest Tweetdeck AIR file from:
http://tweetdeck.com/go/download/tweetdeck
I found the easiest way was to save the tweetdeck app, open Adobe Air Installer, locate the tweetdeck…bin file and install like that. Other direct ways from tweetdeck.com didn’t work for me but this could also be an opera problem…
So far I have not yet found a ubuntu or easypeasy repository for this…

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One thought on “andEs Corner: EasyPeasy On A Cloud

  1. I have now added parts of this to the easypeasy wiki and will continue to maintain there if I get additions or changes. So you can look at:
    http://wiki.geteasypeasy.com/Cloud_storage
    http://wiki.geteasypeasy.com/Opera
    http://wiki.geteasypeasy.com/Tweetdeck

    ENJOY!

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