February 19, 2009

How do I … install KDE applications on Windows?

  • Date: December 9th, 2008
  • Author: Jack Wallen

With the help of Wine you can install Windows applications on Linux. But what if there are Linux applications you want to run on Microsoft Windows? Say, for example, you want to use Dolphin for your file manager instead of Windows Explorer. Thanks to a group of KDE developers, it’s possible.

Now don’t get overworked thinking you’re going to have the entire KDE workspace. You’re not. What you can get, however, is a lot of the KDE-specific applications up and running on Windows (2000, XP, and Vista). And many of these applications are integrated within themselves (so when you click an image in Dolphin, Gwenview automatically opens to display the image).

What is nice about KDE on Windows is that the aim of the project, since inception, is to create these applications as native ports. So there is nothing like Cygwin acting as a middle-layer to help run the KDE applications. This helps tremendously in keeping memory and CPU usage down to a minimum.

At this point I should warn you, some of the applications do not work perfectly. Take for instance Konqueror. Konqueror works perfectly as a file manger, but as a Web browser it is somewhat slow and prone to bugs. But it does work in both functions. Another application, Amarok, is unstable to the point of not being usable yet. That is not a problem; you can simply deselect the unstable applications during installation.

With that said, let’s get on with the installation.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download and as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

Getting and installing

The installation of KDE on Windows isn’t difficult, but it is time consuming. Fortunately much of this time is not interactive (so you can step away from the machine and get some work done). The first thing you need to do is download the KDE installer. Once the installer has finished downloading, double-click the .exe file and the installation will begin.

The first step in the installation is to select the Installation directory (Figure A).

Figure A

The default installation path is probably the best choice.

The next step is to choose the Install Mode (Figure B). The purpose of this is to dictate to the installer application if the installation is for an end user or a developer. If you are not planning to do any developing for KDE on Windows, your best bet is to select the End User option.

Figure B

If you select Development Mode you will also have to select a Compiler mode.

It’s very important that you select the proper Compiler Mode (if you plan on doing a Developer installation). Once you make your selection and install, you cannot change the compiler type without uninstalling and reinstalling. You can, of course, do another install and just install KDE into a different path on your hard drive. This will allow you to run different types of compilers on different installs.

Since most of you will not be doing a developer installation, we are going to continue on with an End User installation.

The next step is to configure a local storage location (Figure C). This local storage directory will be where all downloaded files are retained for the installation process.

Figure C

There shouldn’t be any reason you would need to change this directory.

Now it’s time to configure Internet settings (Figure D). This is necessary because the installer has to download everything it needs, so it must know how to get to it.

Figure D

If you are behind a proxy server, the installer will fail if the proxy is not configured here.

Along with the Internet connections configuration, you have to select a download server (Figure E). Naturally you will want to select the closest in proximity to your machine.

Figure E

Of course, even if the server is near you, that doesn’t always mean you will have the best speeds.

The next step is to choose the release you want to install (Figure F). As of this writing there are only four choices: 4.1.0, 4.1.1, 4.1.2, and 4.1.3. Installing 4.1.3 will bring you closest to the latest features of KDE 4.

Figure F

You can always go back and install other releases by installing them in different folders.

The next step is the final configuration in the installation. You now have to select the packages you want to install. As you can see in Figure G, I have opted to not install the unstable packages as well as the various language packages.

Figure G

Unless you have a need for the various language packages, not installing them will save a good deal of time during the installation.

The next window (Figure H) serves only to inform you what additional packages will be installed, based on your package selection. These are all dependencies (libraries, etc).

Figure H

You cannot deselect any of these packages.

Finally the installer will begin to download all packages necessary for the installation. In my case there are 50 packages to install (Figure I).

Figure I

Go work on that Apache server because you’re going to have the time.

Once everything has been downloaded, the installer will automatically compile and build the applications. When all is complete you will be greeted with a window (Figure J) informing you the installation is complete.

Figure J

Click Finish and you’re ready to rock the KDE way.

With the installation complete, there is no need to reboot. You are ready to take a peek at the KDE applications you now have installed on your Windows machine.

inexpensive cialis class=”entry” align=”justify”>A quick glance

One of the most welcome applications is the Dolphin file manager. I have never been a huge fan of Explorer, so having a Linux file manager is a welcome addition. To get to Dolphin you only need navigate to the KDE submenu in the Start menu. If you installed KDE 4.1.3 the menu entry will be titled “KDE 4.1.3 Release.” Within that submenu you will find a number of child menus (Figure K).

Figure K

You will notice as you navigate through the KDE menus that anything regarding the desktop is missing.

In the System submenu you will find the entry for Dolphin. Load Dolphin to see just how well the KDE applications have been ported to Windows. Figure L shows Dolphin in action.

Figure L

As you can see Dolphin contains many of the standard KDE features.

Like much of the KDE-ported applications, Dolphin works exactly as expected. The only feature I have yet to be able to take advantage of is connecting to a network connection. I have attempted to connect Dolphin through SSH (with the help of Putty) but have yet to have any luck. Outside of that small issue, Dolphin makes for an outstanding replacement for Explorer.

Final thoughts

There are many reasons why you would want to install KDE on Windows. And I am confident that eventually the developers will manage to port the entire desktop experience onto Windows. At this point, I can’t see any reason to run the standard Windows desktop.

Give KDE on Windows a try. Even if you find only one application that you use regularly, it will be worth the effort.

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November 8, 2008

OS X versus Vista, RAM division

October 24th, 2008

Posted by Ed Bott

As I noted earlier this week, I’ve begun using a MacBook (the basic white model) and keeping a log of my experiences.

Yesterday, I received the adapter cable I needed to hook this machine to an external monitor so that I could use it in a desktop configuration. (A note to the thrifty: Don’t pay Apple $29 for this mini-DVI cable. Instead, go to Monoprice.com and pick up the generic adapter for $9.96. With shipping, it was still under $12, and it works just fine.)

Now that I have this system up and running on a full-sized screen, I’m ready to make some head-to-head comparisons with Windows. Because this system has a mere 1GB of RAM, I was curious to get a sense of how thrifty OS X Leopard is when it comes to memory usage. I was especially curious to see how Leopard compares to Vista, which as been slammed by critics as a resource hog.

To get started I opened Safari and opened a single web page, then began playing an MP3 track in iTunes. With those tasks running, I checked the results from Activity Monitor:

Memory usage for basic tasks on a 1GB MacBook

As you can see, the OS reports that 581MB is in use, with 430MB free.

Next, I launched a similar set of tasks on a system running Windows Vista Ultimate. To make the comparison fair, I used the System Configuration utility to disable all but 1024MB of memory in the system, which has 4GB of RAM. This system is using the full Aero interface (disabling it had no significant impact on the RAM footprint). I opened Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, began playing the same MP3 tune and browsed to the same page cialis 2.5 that was open on the Macbook. Here’s what Task Manager showed for memory usage:

Memory usage for basic tasks on a 1GB Vista machine

For those keeping score, the Vista machine is using 594MB of RAM, which is roughly 2% more than its Mac counterpart running the same set of tasks.

Vista gets a bad rap for lots of things, including its reputedly voracious appetite for memory. As you can see, Vista compares favorably to OS X in this regard and doesn’t deserve that reputation.

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September 26, 2008

VLC Media Player for Macs

Download here


VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, and OGG, as well as for DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It also can be used as a server for unicast or multicast streams in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network. Version 0.9.2 adds a new interface module for Linux, Unix and Windows, a media library and an improved playlist, support for many new inputs and codecs, and many new audio and video filters.

(Is this item miscategorized? Does it need more tags? Let us know.)

propecia results

Format: Software Size: 30,290 KB
Date: Sep 2008 Version: 0.9.2
License: Free
System Req: Mac OS X 10.4
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September 25, 2008

An inside look at Apple’s sneaky iTunes 8 upgrade

September 10th, 2008

Posted by Ed Bott

Update, 12-September, 5:45AM PDT: Apple has issued a revised download for iTunes 8 intended to correct this problem. My analysis is in this follow-up post.

I’m reading lots of complaints about the new iTunes 8 update causing horrific problems on Windows machines, including widespread reports of STOP errors, aka the Blue Screen of Death. My colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has asked readers for reports and Gizmodo has a sketchy post as well. How can this be happening? Assuming that the underlying hardware is working correctly, STOP errors can only be caused by kernel-level drivers or system services. A poorly written program can crash itself but not the entire system. So how can a supposedly simple software update cause a fatal crash?

Maybe because this isn’t a simple software update. Once again, Apple is using its automatic update process to deliver massive amounts of new software to users, including a device driver that has a long and checkered history of causing the Blue Screen Of Death to appear. And it’s delivering this massive payload without even a pretense of proper disclosure and without asking consent from its users.

I was able to reproduce a crash using an iPod and iTunes 8 and fixed it by removing the suspicious driver. I’ve dissected the process and put together a gallery that shows how extensive the infiltration is and where you can find the likely culprit.

To see what software is sneaking along with the upgrade,
see my image gallery: Apple’s sneaky iTunes 8 install

Apple’s sneaky iTunes 8 install

Here’s a blow-by-blow analysis of what happens when you allow Apple Software Update to install iTunes 8:


The first thing you see is a notice from Apple Software Update. It promises an update to iTunes+QuickTime and says nothing about any other software.


Next, you accept a license agreement, which also makes no mention of anything other than iTunes. According to a code at the end of the license agreement, it has not been updated since October 2007.

After you enter your administrator’s credentials in a dialog box, the download and installation proceed automatically. The downloader dialog box notes that the complete install package is nearly 80MB in size, but the size shown in its progress bar changes several times.


Opening the folder where Apple Software Update stores its temporary files reveals what’s really going on. The download consists of five installer packages and a master setup program. In addition to iTunes and QuickTime, the package includes the Bonjour service (which has been a part of iTunes for a long time), plus Apple Mobile Device Support and MobileMe. The latter two packages appeared for the first time, according to Ars Technica and other sources, in the July update to iTunes. And a look inside Control Panel shows that this time around, Apple is giving Windows users an opportunity to uninstall MobileMe, which they didn’t do in the previous update.

When I used an antispyware tool (Sunbelt Software’s VIPRE), it detected that a new Apple program was loading at startup. Although it went by the prosaic name AppleSyncNotifier, its icon reveals that it’s actually MobileMe.

But in addition to all that software, Apple is also sneaking a couple of driver updates onto the system. One is a USB controller update, which is apparently used when connecting an iPod or iPhone to the system. On my system, this driver file was copied to the system but was not installed until I connected an iPod Mini via a USB port. Most of the trouble reports on the Apple forum indicate that this driver is identifying itself in the text that appears on the STOP error page. The only clue that this driver is being installed is in the System Restore dialog box.

In addition to this driver, the system also updates the GEARAspiWDM.sys driver (in Windows\System32\Drivers). I had to dig deep to discover this change, which is not documented anywhere. This driver is typically used with third-party programs that write to CD and DVD drives. The old iTunes versions of this driver is dated January 29, 2008. The new one is from April 17, 2008. This driver has a long and colorful history of causing Windows crashes. [Update 17-Sep: After looking deeper, I can confirm that Apple’s driver is the culprit and that Gear’s driver is unrelated to these crashes. In fact, Gear’s signed driver might even be an innocent bystander in a separate iTunes support issue. See my follow-up post “Apple, not Gear, deserves the blame for iTunes crashes” for details.] I remember dealing with it back in Windows 2000 days. And sure enough, a search for GEARAspiWDM.sys BSOD turns up thousands of hits. I’ve also found anecdotal reports of this driver causing iTunes to crash, including this one from the Gear Software forum last May. The image below shows the Previous Versions dialog box, which I used to determine that the file had been updated.


When I plugged an iPod Nano into my Windows Vista system for the first time, it offered to install a driver and then asked me to reboot. When I restarted, I plugged in the iPod again and the machine locked up solid. No blue screen, just a black screen that didn’t respond to any input. After a restart, I tried again and got the same result when I attempted to open iTunes.

For the third try, I decided to replace the GEARAspiWDM.sys driver file with its earlier version. I used the Previous Versions feature of Windows Vista Ultimate to find the older version, copied it to my desktop, deleted the newer driver, and then copied the January version to the Drivers folder. This time iTunes opened just fine, displaying the contents of the iPod. (When I simply deleted the driver file, I got an error upon starting iTunes warning me that my installation was incomplete and that I might not be able to burn CDs or DVDs until I completed it.)

I can’t say my tests are conclusive, but my long history with this file suggests that it might well be at the root of the problem for others as well.

An even bigger problem is Apple’s attitude toward its Windows customers. These additional software packages and drivers are being installed with no disclosure propecia prostatitis and no consent. A pile of software, including the troubled MobileMe service, is also being installed and enabled at startup on Windows machines, even where the user has no MobileMe account and, for that matter, no mobile device.

Apple’s Get a Mac ads love to tweak Microsoft for its frequent crashes. Someone from Apple needs to look in the mirror and realize that they’re the problem in this case.

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August 18, 2008

How do I… add Macs to a Windows workgroup?

  • Date: July 30th, 2008
  • Author: Erik Eckel

Your network administrators have to be able to incorporate Windows, Apple, and Linux workstations.


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Macs are likely to be on your network. Fortunately, advances within Apple’s OS X operating system simplify connecting Windows XP and Macs on the same network. Windows administrators can follow these steps to add Macs to Windows workgroups.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Verify the PC side

After confirming the Windows and Mac systems all have Ethernet connections and required switches or wireless connectivity, begin by verifying the Windows workgroup name (Figure A):

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click My Computer and select Properties.
  3. Select the Computer Name tab.
  4. Note or record the name of the workgroup you wish to add the Mac to.

Figure A

Verify the Windows workgroup name by right-clicking My Computer, selecting Properties, and clicking the Computer Name tab.

Next, confirm the Windows workgroup is sharing the appropriate files within the workgroup:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Double-click My Computer.
  3. Verify the appropriate folders are shared (look for the folder held by a blue hand icon (Figure B), thereby indicating the resource is being shared).

Figure B

The blue hand icon notes shared resources.

Once you’ve confirmed the right Windows files are being shared, or if you only wish to share a printer, check to ensure a printer or printers are being shared by:

  1. Clicking Start.
  2. Clicking Printers and Faxes.
  3. Confirming a printer is being shared (look for the same blue hand icon indicating the printer is a shared resource).

 Before connecting the Mac units to the workgroup, you need to review the users/groups and permissions associated with the shared resources (to ensure you can properly configure the Macs to connect to the resources). For each shared resource:

  1. Right-click the shared resource and select Properties from the pop-up menu.
  2. Click the Security tab (Figure C).
  3. Note the group or user names receiving access to the resource.
  4. Note the specific permissions each group or user receives.
  5. Make any required adjustments to group and user permissions using the supplied Add and Remove buttons.
  6. Click OK (if you’ve made any changes or just close the window).

Figure C

Use the Permissions tab to configure specific permissions for users and groups.

If you don’t see permissions listed specifically for each user, your Windows XP system is likely set to Simple File Sharing. To turn Simply File Sharing off and enable more granular control of file and printer shares:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Select My Computer.
  3. Click Tools.
  4. Click Folder Options.
  5. Select the View tab.
  6. Within the Advanced settings window, scroll toward the bottom, find the Use Simple File Sharing (Recommended) check box, and ensure it’s deselected.
  7. Click OK.


Now you’re ready to move to the Mac. To connect the Mac to an existing Windows workgroup:

  1. Click on the Dock’s Finder icon.
  2. Click on Network in the Finder’s left sidebar (Figure D).
  3. Click on Workgroup.
  4. Select the system hosting the resources you wish to connect to.
  5. Click the Connect button.
  6. Enter the workgroup name and a user name and password possessing permissions to access the resource within the SMB window that appears and click OK (Figure E).
  7. Select the resource you wish to connect to, then click OK (Figure F).
  8. Once the Windows-based resources appear in the Finder, simply drag an item from the Finder to the Mac Desktop to begin using it (Figure G).

Figure D

Use Finder on the Mac to begin sharing resources.

Figure E

You’ll have to provide the workgroup name and a valid Windows user name and password to connect to Windows resources from the Mac.

Figure F

Specify the resources you wish to connect to on the Windows network.

Figure G

Windows resources will appear within Finder once the Mac completes its connection to the Windows system.

Often, workgroup names won’t match up perfectly. Many Windows XP systems are set to use “MShome” as their workgroup, while others use the standard “Workgroup” workgroup name. The Mac uses the default Workgroup name. However, if you wish to change the Mac’s default workgroup name, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Dock’s Finder icon.
  2. Click Applications.
  3. Scroll to the Utilities folder and select it.
  4. Double-click Directory Access (Figure H).
  5. Enable changes by clicking the padlock.
  6. Provide an Administrator account user name and password.
  7. Double-click SMB/CIFS.
  8. Enter the workgroup name you wish to use in the resulting window or select it from the provided drop-down menu.
  9. Click Apply.
  10. Close Directory Access.

Figure H

Use the Mac’s Directory Access utility to turn on Windows Sharing.

Sharing resources

To share Mac-based resources with the Windows systems within a workgroup, sit at the Mac and perform these steps:

  1. Click the Dock’s System Preferences icon.
  2. Click Sharing within the Internet & Network section.
  3. Ensure the checkbox for Windows Sharing is checked.
  4. Click the Accounts button.
  5. Check the boxes to specify which Mac accounts are authorized to use Windows Sharing.
  6. Ensure Windows Sharing is on; if it’s not, click the Start button.

Next, move to a Windows system from which you wish to access Mac resources and do the following:

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click My Network Places.
  3. Click View Workgroup Computers from the Network Tasks window; the Mac system may appear.
  4. If the Mac system didn’t appear within My Network Places, go to plan B; click Add a Network Place within the Task Pane.
  5. When the Add Network Place Wizard appears, click Next.
  6. Highlight Choose Another Network Location and click Next.
  7. Within the Internet or network address box, specify the Mac system’s IP address (which can typically be found by clicking the Dock’s System Preferences icon on the Mac, selecting Network, and choosing Built-in Ethernet from the Show drop-down menu), followed by the Mac user name, then click Next. Note this is an absolutely critical step: the network address must be entered as \\\john if the Mac’s IP address is and the user name is john (Figure I).
  8. Specify a name for the network place and click Next.
  9. Click Finish.
  10. The Mac resources will then appear within Windows.

Figure I

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Once configured, accessing Mac resources from a Windows system is just like accessing resources on another Windows box.

Finally, to print to a printer hosted by a Windows system using a Mac:

  1. Click the Dock’s System Preferences icon.
  2. Click the Print & Fax icon within the Hardware section.
  3. Click the Lock (if it’s closed) to enable changes (and provide an administrator user name and password).
  4. Click the Plus icon to add a printer.
  5. Click the More Printers button.
  6. Ensure Windows Printing is selected from within the first drop-down menu.
  7. Ensure Network Neighborhood is selected from within the second drop-down menu.
  8. Highlight the workgroup possessing the printer you wish to print to and click Choose.
  9. Highlight the Windows workstation hosting the printer and click Choose.
  10. Enter a Windows user name and password possessing permissions to print to the printer and click OK.
  11. Select the printer from the Printer Browser menu.
  12. Specify the printer model using the supplied drop-down menu (or select the Generic listing).
  13. Click the Add button.
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