Configuring a Gnome Online Desktop

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The GNOME Online Desktop project (http://live.gnome.org/OnlineDesktop) represents a new way of approaching desktop computing. It acknowledges that peoples' stuff (documents, digital images, videos, and so on) and activities (searches, blogging, e-mail, instant messaging, news feeds, and so on) are moving from the local hard disk to the Internet.

The first experimental release of the GNOME Online Desktop was distributed near the end of 2007. However, because it is part of the GNOME project, many major Linux distributions now offer it. Although it is still experimental, GNOME Online Desktop offers an interesting new way to work with your online accounts.

The centerpiece of the GNOME Online Desktop project is the sidebar referred to as BigBoard (http://live.gnome.org/BigBoard). From BigBoard, you consolidate icons and menus to connect to your online photo services (such as Flickr), retail accounts (such as Amazon), movie rentals (such as Netflix), and others. It also keeps track of the files and applications you use locally.

The settings that drive your personal Online Desktop are themselves stored online. A GNOME.org account can store information about your desktop applications. A Mugshot (http://mugshot.org) account lets you tie together connections to your online friends and activities. The information is downloaded to your desktop when you log in to the Online Desktop. That allows the Online Desktop concept to move away from a single computer, so you someday can have your whole desktop setup available from any computer with an Internet connection.

To get started with Online Desktop, install the online-desktop package. Then return to the login screen and select Session C> Online Desktop from the login screen and log in. Create a user account at GNOME.org and Mugshot.org. Then configure your Mugshot account to connect to your accounts at popular sites such as Amazon.com, Flickr.com, Netflix.com, and others.

From your Online Desktop sidebar, log in to your Mugshot account. Your Online Desktop sidebar will become populated with your configured online accounts, popular applications, links to friends' accounts, and other items. Figure 3-14 shows an example of an Online Desktop in Fedora.

FIGURE 3-14

Use Online Desktop and Mugshot to connect to online services and friends.

My Desktop

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- Mozilla Firefox

Small icons beneath your user name represent the configured online services. A search box lets you select from a half dozen different search engines. Popular applications and files you have opened recently appear on the sidebar. You can also see your Google calendar and the people you have invited to be your friends.

Mugshot provides the site for configuring many Online Desktop features. You can see the same information from your Mugshot site that appears on your Online Desktop. The Mugshot icon in the bottom panel displays stacks of activities for you and your other Mugshot friends.

Because Online Desktop is still under development, expect to have many more features and services available by the time you read this text. In particular, work is being done to integrate online applications, so you will be able to work with Web applications to use your documents, spreadsheets, and other important information.

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