Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For Linux Telecommuting Tools?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the skype-works dept.

Businesses 212

First time accepted submitter rodrix79 writes "Hi all. I am trying to move from Windows to Linux (Ubuntu, but maybe to Mint). The problem is I telecommute full time and I am having a hard time trying to find the right tools to keep communication flowing with my clients (which are mostly on Windows / Mac). Any good recommendations from Linux telecommuters?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Usual rule (5, Insightful)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589207)

(1) Decide what you're trying to do

(2) Decide what application level software will do what you need

(3) Use whatever platform (2) runs on

I would not put my income at risk by playing silly games with the platform I use to earn my living. If I want to use something else for other purposes, then jolly good, I'll buy another box.

Skype (1, Insightful)

Johnny Mister (2610721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589217)

Sorry, but for business things you really do have to use Skype. It is what everyone uses, so you just have to go with it. That is cold hard truth. If you want UNIX OS, then just use Mac. I do and love it.

Re:Skype (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589249)

And using Skype on Linux is a problem because.... ?

Re:Skype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589335)

Because it creashes occasionally, leaving it in a state where it looks like it's working but it is actually offline.

Well, that's what it does to me. YMMV.

Re:Skype (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589387)

oh, and if you conference in multiple people it sounds like mickey mouse being hit in the balls, repeatedly.

Again, YMMV.

Easy fix... (4, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589785)

Well, a couple of things.

Who in this day in age (and I'm talking about someone on slashdot that asks a question about telecommuting)....cannot afford more than one computer?

Have one for linux..have one for windows.

Hell, what about running VMs? Have windows running on your linux box.....hell, get a mac, and run linux and windows on vms...and have the best of all 3x worlds.

Re:Skype (3, Informative)

dokc (1562391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590271)

Because it creashes occasionally, leaving it in a state where it looks like it's working but it is actually offline.

Well, that's what it does to me. YMMV.

My Skype crashes occationally under Windows too.

Re:Skype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589393)

Skype on Linux is not as good, I also telecommute and first to install it, i had to enable multilib repositories (Skype requires some x86 only packages)
then just by having skype running, it uses lots of CPU and RAM (for an idle application), and when I share my screen, daamn CPU shoots way up and my laptop gets up to 60 C.

I tried using but it requires wine and although the screen sharing is better has given me lots of problems, it crashes and freezes suddenly etc.

Re:Skype (3, Informative)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589515)

And using Skype on Linux is a problem because.... ?

It's unsupported, well out of date, and very problematic.

I often try to chat with people via Skype; only to get one or two chats through and then have it stop sending/receiving chats. I'm still supposedly on-line; but it's not working.

And its functionally broken when trying to find the microphone under Linux; so voice calls are nearly impossible - they work sometimes, but most of the time they don't. I gave up on it.

Interestingly, this lack of support and updates started about the time Microsoft started its acquisition of the company, vowing to keep Linux support active - that support has basically been "here's a beta version that 2+ years old, use it if you like".

Is there anything else Skype is good for?

Re:Skype (3, Informative)

systematical (1394991) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589257)

Skype runs on Ubuntu and not through wine. They actually have a .deb package for it and probably for other distributions as well. For other things though, yeah you might have to stick with windows or at least run a VM.

Re:Skype (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589259)

Skype works just fine on Linux. I use it daily, yes, even for voice and video.

Re:Skype (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589261)

Either I'm missing your point, or you weren't aware that Skype is supported by linux.

Re:Skype (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589273)

"Sorry, but for business things you really do have to use Skype."

Where? Everywhere I look I see businesses using Cisco, Tandberg and Polycom video conferencing and that means real H323 protocols and software. Of which there is NOTHING for linux.

The good thing is a old Tandberg Edge95 or Polycom SD unit is dirt cheap on ebay.

Re:Skype (5, Informative)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589431)

So SIP isn't supported on Linux? Really? I'm sure Ekiga works as well as loads of others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_SIP_software#Free_and_open_source_license_2 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Skype (3, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589853)

What loads of others are you thinking of? Just because it supports SIP does not mean it supports Video calls over SIP.

I've been down this road a lot, the company I work for is a Tandberg/Cisco VC dealer and we constantly are being asked about Linux clients. I have yet to find ONE that supports all of the functions. Like sending Pan/Tilt/Zoom to the far end camera. Ekiga works for simple static calls, at least an older version did. I have not tried it in the past year as surplus gear on ebay delivers a better conference experience.

Re:Skype (1)

680x0 (467210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589443)

Everywhere I look I see businesses using Cisco, Tandberg and Polycom video conferencing and that means real H323 protocols and software. Of which there is NOTHING for linux.

Have you tried Ekiga (formerly GnomeMeeting) [ekiga.org] ?

Re:Skype (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589779)

What fucknut modded this down? Lumpy is right, skype is not used in companies. Not for meetings.

Re:Skype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589863)

I use Twinkle as a SIP client for accessing conference calls. I use VMWare View for accessing a VDI desktop. I use a myriad of devtools, mail clients, browsers and all kinds of other toys on my Sony Vaio. I replaced Windows with Linux Mint 12 on it within 30 minutes of taking delivery, and I have no regrets.

Re:Skype (3, Interesting)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590305)

Google Voice?

Re:Skype (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589279)

There's a Linux client for Skype, although I've hit various issues with it's sound handling in the past. I think that's largely fixed in Ubuntu 11.10.

Re:Skype (3, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589313)

Codeweavers' Crossover (http://www.codeweavers.com) product is a beefed up Wine and they allow a 2 week trial. Very reasonably priced.

You can install Windows software and run it without having to have a VM or a Windows license. It works great for a lot of Windows apps they don't specifically list on their website but they also list apps they have tested and know specifically will run.

I use it for a number of Windows applications where I don't have to boot up to a now very old version of XP on an old hard drive. I just installed the apps in "bottles" under Linux and then just run them whenever I want to.

Re:Skype (2)

Danathar (267989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589777)

wrong. Go to www.ciscojabbervideo.com.

Standards based, and free to use or if an enterprise wants to deploy it they can buy their own authentication infrastructure. The ability to call a traditional SIP or h.323 based VTC unit directly without some goofy transcoding high cost solution like blujeans.com is gold.

Re:Usual rule (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589353)

I have to agree. We are in an Employers market, we have been in one for a while.
You use the platform they recommend, or you work from the office.

Now the question is different if the company is exploring to offer telecommuting then you may be evaluating tools then you have more options.
Skype, Is good, so is WebEx, WebEx give you more professional features.
There are a slew of web based tools, most of them are OS independent.

Re:Usual rule (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589427)

Welcome to NuSlashdot. Where the most highly ranked post is as always a complete non answer. The OP asked a very specific question. He doesn't need you lecturing him on his workflow. And to all the jackasses that modded you up, you are the reason Slashdot sucks circa 2012.

Re:Usual rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39590211)

Really? I found the original question very vague and buzzword-ish. There's no shortage of cross-platform communication tools out there. No one I 'telecommute' with on a daily basis seems to think twice about this, and there's plenty of Linux going on. If the OP isn't going to specify why the standard solutions don't work, then his non-question deserves a non-answer.

Re:Usual rule (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589475)

(1) Decide what you're trying to do

(2) Decide what application level software will do what you need

(3) Use whatever platform (2) runs on

I will also add Define what you mean. My first thought on reading TFS was that he was asking what the best remote control software was, for him trying to access multiple clients. He could mean that, or he could mean what other people are assuming: how best to communicate with the people he does business with. Two very different applications, with two very different answers: for the first, some variant of NX, PC Anywhere, etc., would do the trick. I like NX, because it works on everything and is pretty fast. It's also dead easy to set up... downside: it's one of the most expensive options for commercial use. For the second way to read the question, you basically just need a good multiprotocol IM client and working e-mail. If you want, add text messaging or BBM to the list. If a customer urgently needs to speak with you, they can always pick up the phone, too.

And like you, I wouldn't suggest risking your income. If you need to use Windows to do your job, then buy a Windows box. Use it for work, and install Linux on a separate system (or even a multiboot) for personal use.

What tools do you already have? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589219)

In all honesty... an IM program, an email program, and a web browser. Without saying what tools you're looking to replace, I really don't know where to go with this one.

Recommendations for Linux Telecommuting Tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589223)

You can use Teamviewer.

Can you be more specific? (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589233)

Can you be more specific? Like telling us what doensn't work? All major chat protocols work, email works, browsers work, OpenVPN works (others may work too). There are good terminal services clients. So, apart from the "I can't have Microsoft Office", what -pray tell us- doens't work.

Re:Can you be more specific? (3, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589277)

And you *can* have Microsoft Office in a VM.

As a matter of fact, if the real problems are only on the edges then using Virtualbox is probably one of the directions to look. I do admin work is a split environment and it works well for me. Most of the time it's turned off but when I have to do an Active Directory change I have a saved-state windows instance ready to go.

Re:Can you be more specific? (5, Interesting)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589355)

You don't even need a VM to run Microsoft Office. I've been running it in Linux with Codeweavers' Crossover and it works fine.

VM to the rescue (1)

Tassach (137772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589413)

Either windows in a VM running on Linux or vice-versa. For real work (coding) you have Linux; for everything else you use Windows. It works especially well if you have a multi-monitor setup.

VM seems like the obvious way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589899)

All the stuff for which you don't have an immediately workable alternative in linux, use in a Windows VM. Nice thing about making the Windows virtual, rather than the Linux, is that when your customers send you malware by accident, you can just say, "Oh, yes?"

Or maybe you don't have those issues in the business world. It's been a lifesaver for me because every semester there are at least a couple of students who get hacked/infected/malwared and everybody on their contact lists gets the "benefit."

Re:Can you be more specific? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39590255)

Not to mention you can always use RDP to connect with the server. Just a tip here: of you are havin trouble connecting with SSL terminal services FreeRDP can do it. Last time I've checked rdesktop was not compatible with ssl.

Troll-like typing detected (5, Insightful)

Wee (17189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589657)

Can you be more specific? Like telling us what doensn't work?

Having already posted a reply, I have a gut feeling this submission is in some way trollish. No specifics, vague notions of "telecommuting" (do people even use that word?), and management-buzzword phrases like "hard time trying to find the right tools to keep communication flowing with my clients". Really? IM, email, online doc sharing, VOIP, video chat, Libre Office (or even MS Office in Wine)... shit even old-school ftp drop boxes: none of those will work in keeping communication "flowing"?

I get the feeling the submitter is looking to say, "See? Even Slashdot -- largely regarded as Nerd Central -- can't think of ways Linux can provide the tools and services necessary to serve the business-ready needs of today's modern telecommuting professional". Or some such reverse-astroturfing thing.

It could also be that the submitter isn't a technical person. But the submission smells funny.

-B

Re:Troll-like typing detected (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589729)

I think you're spot on.....

Re:Can you be more specific? (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589775)

Not all terminal services work in Linux. There are authentication and other protocols that M$ uses that aren't always available in Linux. Or like most other Linux interfaces to M$ products, there's a lag between what's required by M$ and what's available in Linux. And given how M$ likes to randomly change things on us, you could easily find yourself out in the cold if you can't upgrade as fast as your work. This is what happened to a coworker & I when we tried to use primarily Linux at home(he still does). Unlike him, I had Windows licenses I could use to build legit VMs when I needed to remote into work. For a while it was the only thing we could do.

Citrix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589237)

Citrix (Make life easy).

The Usual Suspects (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589291)

KISS: Keep it simple, stupid (quoting, not insulting!)
  • Email.
    A private forum if applicable. (I'm trying to nudge my main client in that direction, they have multiple outlets who don't communicate with each other much)
  • Twitter/Facebook if your customers are into social media (mine are, Twitter is very handy for very quick support jobs).
  • Phone. Android if you want to vaguely stick with the Linux thing in every way.

If you're trying to remote into a company LAN or VNC things then your main block is company IT policy rather than Linux capabilities, but if you're looking at standard communication tools then browser choice is sometimes more important than OS choice.

Re:The Usual Suspects (1)

Kultiras (2589819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590109)

If you're trying to remote into a company LAN or VNC things then your main block is company IT policy rather than Linux capabilities

Your main block for remote access to a company's internal network is more likely to be the vendor's operating system support, not company IT policy. The two VPNs I manage both support Windows, Macs, and Linux with (mostly) the same code. Unfortuantely that means it's Java based, and it has been very problematic because of that. On people's personal Linux installs, a combination of not following instructions and the version of Java they're running virtually guarantees that it won't work for them the first few times, if ever. In the case of Apple, every time they touch something in Safari or Java it screws up the applet in some way, requiring a reinstall of the program or waiting on a client patch for the VPN. The Windows version certainly isn't perfect either, but the issues there are known and easily fixable.

Wrong question (3, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589307)

I generally hate it when people don't answer the "real" question posted to an online forum, so for starters: Jabber and rdesktop, and at every turn, promote the use of Google's online collaboration tools if they don't already use them heavily (they actually don't suck, but I wouldn't run a company depending on Google to say non-evil).

That said, you have asked the wrong question. You need to start with "I make my living serving people using X but don't want to use X, should I drink the Xool-ade or risk losing my shirt?"

And if you don't already know the answer to that question, we can't help you.

Re:Wrong question (2, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589833)

Even more to the point I don't know that we can answer the question as asked. There's no standard answer to "what do I need to telecommute?" What do you do? What tools are commonly used by your employer(s)? Do you need voice or video chat? If so, what kind? Skype is easy, but Polycomms don't work with it. What do you do? If your job is "develop .NET applications", it's going to be really hard to just switch to Linux. Does your company use Exchange? Is there an OWA server available so you can hook it up to a non-Outlook client? If not is there POP or IMAP (not as good as OWA which can forward contacts, calendar, etc)? Do you use any proprietary Windows only tools? Do you have to use IE to get to certain internal web sites? What VPN solution does your company use? Is there a Linux client? My company is standardized on Office Communicator, I'm not aware of any other IM system that can hook up to our internal OC servers, that could be a huge problem with telecommuting.

I mean... Telecommuting can be as simple as "I need a phone, a VPN client, an e-mail client, and a terminal to SSH in with" or as complex as "I need a full suite of proprietary in house Windows tools, Visual Studios, and Outlook or I can't do my job". I could telecommute for a day or two with nearly any computer using any OS. Eventually I'd need at least a VM with a domain connected Windows OS or I'd be unable to do a lot of communication, internal paperwork, documentation, etc.

Re:Wrong question (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590189)

In fairness, OP's question is remarkably vague. The question boils down to "What are good communications tools for Linux?" Well, that depends on what you mean, and what you need. If you need to pass files back and forth and send fully formed comments, email. If you need to voice conference... a phone. If you need video conference, Skype or Google Hangouts. If you need text-based back-and-forth, any IM client. If you need Microsoft Office editing, Google Docs, Open Office, or Office in Crossover. If you need VPN, OpenVPN or "vpnc" to talk to Cisco VPN gateways.

There's just so many things which could be meant by "communications," and in traditional requirements document format, a question is posed that seems entirely reasonable to the asker, but completely fails to describe any problem that should or could be solved.

What exactly do you need? (3, Informative)

dejanc (1528235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589321)

In my case, telecommuting requires some readily available tools, such as openvpn or git/svn. For my softphone needs, I use Ekiga. For instant messaging, there is Pidgin. For screen sharing, I had excellent experience with Teamviewer. For email, anything from Thunderbird to Mutt. But really, I never had any particular issues regarding communication on Linux. Linux may be lacking in other categories of software, but it really shines in communication department.

Plantronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589329)

Apparently Plantronics has some decent equippment for Telecommuters according to Slashdot. I dunno. Personally I think plantronics sux

Use a Mac (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589331)

Tell yourself it's based on BSD and that's kinda close to linux. I've long ago given up on using linux as a desktop/laptop. Run a Mac, be happy and put a linux virtual machine on your mac for the hardcore geeky stuff. Best of both worlds, IMHO.

Re:Use a Mac (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589773)

Is that you, CmdrTaco?

Tell yourself it's based on BSD and that's kinda close to linux. I've long ago given up on using linux as a desktop/laptop. Run a Mac, be happy and put a linux virtual machine on your mac for the hardcore geeky stuff. Best of both worlds, IMHO.

Re:Use a Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39590387)

Hehehe, no. Sorry for anonymous, I forgot my password and rarely post. Love linux on the server, but decided screw it, I'm going Mac on the laptop and haven't looked back.

What is the problem? (1)

TheSimkin (639033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589379)

What problems are you having? I telecomute a lot on linux. i use NXserver/NXclient to connect to remote desktops. VNC and RDP to connect to client machines. Skype to do video chat etc. I have no problems... what is the problem you are having?

Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589381)

I have to take a Windows laptop home so I can use a VPN to start a putty session to log into a terminal to do unix system maintenance instead of just ssh'ing from my home linux box (yes , I know I can put VPN on linux but its hassle).

When I've asked why they can't just have an open ssh port they start waffling about security. I'm sorry , since when are VPNs more secure than ssh? Never, thats when. I'm sick and tired of know-nothing Windows admins running IT infrastructure.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589497)

Just an FYI. There is a linux version of putty. It looks almost identical to the windows version.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589605)

I only use putty because the laptop doesn't come with eXceed or some other X installation so I can use an xterm.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589695)

You seem a little lazy.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39590437)

I think what he is really saying is that he doesn't know how... ;-)

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589669)

Actually....I lucked out. I installed our linux image, but couldn't get VPN working, so I build a VM with the older linux image, got VPN working, then realized....I now had 2 machines...and could work inside the VPN on one, and outside it on the other...with separation (the only communication between them is a shared drop folder)

This is huge because we have to VPN even from the office and the VPN is SLLOOOOW. So... its good to be able to browse the web while waiting to see if the last thing that I did worked or not.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (2)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589921)

I'm trying to figure out what exactly the hassle is with VPNs on linux. If you're using openvpn, drop the configuration in /etc/openvpn and make sure the your certificate, your keyfile and you CA certificate are accessible for openvpn. (Me, I just dump them in /etc/openvpn/connectioname folders). Then adapt /etc/default/openvpn and set those you want to autostart.

Alternatively, under Ubuntu you can configure it graphically, but I haven't found a way to have more than one VPN active.

That said, you do need to install a few packages. Which ones shouldn't be hard to figure out.

I partially agree with "just use ssh", but do keep in mind there are much more bots that try to attack ssh ports with typical user/password combos than there are bots that attack VPNs. At least to my knowledge.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590135)

"If you're using openvpn, drop the configuration in /etc/openvpn and make sure the your certificate, your keyfile and you CA certificate are accessible for openvpn. (Me, I just dump them in /etc/openvpn/connectioname folders). Then adapt /etc/default/openvpn and set those you want to autostart. "

Yes, obviously thats so much easier than typing "ssh @"

"That said, you do need to install a few packages. Which ones shouldn't be hard to figure out."

Lifes too short. If my company want me to work from home they can do the donkey work.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590239)

Hey, I'm a full fan of simply using ssh with keys and all. SSH-tunneling for the win, I use it all the time. What I just wanted to say is that setting up a VPN is a pain once, then you're done and you connect as if the resources were local.

My experience is that most companies don't want you to telecommute. I could do 95% of my work from home, but they insist on me being local. Besides, I'm the one who does the donkey work and if you worked at my company you wouldn't have had to configure the VPN in the first place as I'd have done it.

I'd say, your issue is with your workplace, not with VPNs.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589925)

Cisco VPN
sudo apt-get install network-manager-vpnc
or
sudo apt-get install network-manager-openvpn

they both work as an easy replacement in ubuntu to connect. It adds the features to network-manager.
Very easy way for me to connect to my Cisco SSL and IPSec VPN's.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590063)

OTOH, a VPN and an open ssh port is less secure then either one on it's own. I agree, it's a very small difference, but I can see where they are coming from.

VPN is, conversely, much more of a pleasure on Linux than it is on Windows. The Windows VPN client will only route my packets over the VPN, locking me out of my local machines, printer, and my spiffy 30Mbit/s network connection. Linux was easy to set up with the right network-manager plugin (YMMV), and routes my packets the way I want it to, so I get the best of both worlds. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Ubuntu release which doesn't even route DNS over your VPN unless it's for a machine on the office network.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (3, Insightful)

megalomaniacs4u (199468) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590223)

Slap you vpn admin until he sets up split-tunnelling properly if your vpn locks out your lan.

I use a cisco asa based vpn and with split tunnelling turned on at the host i can still use my lan while vpn is connected.

You just must have a different subnets for the local & remote.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (3, Interesting)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590125)

Security is a valid concern. The VPN is another layer of security. Let's say there's a zero day vulnerability in ssh. That's OK, you have to be on the inside of the corporate network to ssh into the server, so there's a layer of security there. Let's say there's a zero day vulnerability in the VPN system. That's where the security of ssh comes in. Why expose an extra potential vulnerability vector to the outside world? The VPN external interface already HAS to be exposed and can get you what you need from there.

For my more sensitive systems I actually have to get through three layers of password to get into root. Login to the VPN to get on the network, provide the password for my ssh key to get into the box, then provide either my own password (through sudo, my password is different than my ssh key password) or roots password (through su) to get to root. All three passwords are different, so that if one gets compromised somehow, you still need the other two.

Sure shh is secure. That doesn't mean you should rely exclusively on that security if you can avoid it.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (1)

Kultiras (2589819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590311)

Some of us are subject to regulatory compliance and/or PCI-DSS. Accessing anything on my internal network from outside without two-factor authentication that is logged is a sure way to fail many kinds of external audits.

Requiring the use of a VPN defines the single point of entry into your network. That's one point to monitor, secure, and administrate; not one for every server you want access to over the public Internet.

Re:Companies are obsessed with VPNs (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590367)

I have to take a Windows laptop home so I can use a VPN to start a putty session to log into a terminal to do unix system maintenance instead of just ssh'ing from my home linux box (yes , I know I can put VPN on linux but its hassle).

When I've asked why they can't just have an open ssh port they start waffling about security. I'm sorry , since when are VPNs more secure than ssh? Never, thats when. I'm sick and tired of know-nothing Windows admins running IT infrastructure.

Sounds like IT supports a VPN server for all of its corporate users. One of them (you) says that a VPN is too hard for him to set up, so you want IT to set up a dedicated machine just for you that runs SSH and provides access into the secure network. And they have to keep that machine patched and updated. And integrate it with their IDS. And configure it to authenticate against Active Directory. Can they use access lists on this SSH server to restrict what resources different groups of VPN users can access (i.e. a user from accounting might only be able to reach the web interface on their financial reporting server, while an IT user might have more access to the network)?

I'm sorry , since when are VPNs more secure than ssh?

Every port opened to the world adds risk, so the fewer services that are exposed to the outside world, the lower the risk. If there's a one in a million chance of a critcal vulnerability in the VPN and SSH server, if I publish both services, then suddenly I have a 2 in a million chance of a critcal vulnerability being exposed to the world -- it's always better to limit risk by reducing services exposed to the world.

I'm sick and tired of know-nothing Windows admins running IT infrastructure

IT Admins are sick and tired of know-it-all Linux users that don't understand everything that we are mandated to do behind the scenes to meet various regulatory requirements in providing a secure network.

Avoid Ubuntu (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589397)

I run Ubuntu. I like Ubuntu.

But I won't install it again, because there are bugs introduced in the Ubuntu patches which are not an issue with the base Debian build.

So come the next box, I'll be trying different distros again.

I'm rather disappointed to report that every major distro has let me down on updates and patches over the years. I really have to question the value of a "maintenance service" if the maintenance introduces bugs instead of fixing them. (RedHat, Mandrake, SuSe, and now Ubuntu have all done this at one time or other.)

Re:Avoid Ubuntu (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589465)

http://archlinux.org/ [archlinux.org]

I gave up on Ubuntu really early (9.04) but I moved to Arch and haven't looked back since. Give it a try, but don't expect it to hold your hand.

Try Slackware (2)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589527)

Unlike most distros you get a non-fucked-about-with kernel the way Linus released it and its very very stable. Granted , its not very user friendly but if you have even moderate linux skills this really won't be an issue.

Re:Avoid Ubuntu (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589563)

I really have to question the value of a "maintenance service" if the maintenance introduces bugs instead of fixing them. (RedHat, Mandrake, SuSe, and now Ubuntu have all done this at one time or other.)

So has Microsoft and probably Apple as well. Things slip through. It is the nature of the beast. The question is how long do bugs remain unfixed.

Re:Avoid Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39590009)

I think you should go back to using Windows because Microsoft never allow something like this to happen.

Re:Avoid Ubuntu (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590099)

I'm rather disappointed to report that every major distro has let me down on updates and patches over the years. I really have to question the value of a "maintenance service" if the maintenance introduces bugs instead of fixing them. (RedHat, Mandrake, SuSe, and now Ubuntu have all done this at one time or other.)

Debian did it too with openssl.
http://www.debian.org/security/2008/dsa-1571 [debian.org]

Luciano Bello discovered that the random number generator in Debian's openssl package is predictable. This is caused by an incorrect Debian-specific change to the openssl package (CVE-2008-0166). As a result, cryptographic key material may be guessable.

Re:Avoid Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39590119)

Have you tried Mint? It's based on Ubuntu, but without the headaches.

Been telecommuting for 7 years (2)

DougDot (966387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589415)

My employer is on the east coast, I am in Santa Fe, NM. I'm currently running Linux Mint 12, with Windows XP as a VirtualBox guest for the Windows-centric activities. All bases are covered.

--Doug

"Never pick a fight with someone who buys his ink by the barrel."

- Mark Twain

Teamviewer, Skype, VM (1)

insidious777 (890334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589425)

You might check out Teamviewer, and Skype for Linux is in beta.

Also, I'd recommend running a Windows VM. Often you might need to use your client's tools (like GoToMeeting, etc). Having access to these and being flexible for their needs makes them much more likely to get the warm fuzzies that keep them as clients.

If Windows works, why change? (1)

Wee (17189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589435)

If your clients work on Windows and you can best interact with them using that OS, then use that OS.

I've been working via a Linux desktop nearly every day since the mid-90's and even now I have an old laptop with Windows XP on it. Because every once in a while, a client issue will require me to fire it up. And sometimes the boss wants me to edit a Visio doc. Or whatever. In those cases, it's the right tool for the job. For day-to-day dev work, I'll be staring at XFCE and xterms and whatnot.

Use whatever allows you to work best.

-B

Re:If Windows works, why change? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589525)

> If your clients work on Windows and you can best interact with them using that OS, then use that OS.

It depends.

On the other hand, desktop machines are now powerful enough that you can run multiple virtualized copies of Windows and not break a sweat. If you get to choose your own hardware and manage your own environment, you will probably even be more productive.

Answer: Skype (0)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589441)

Now, was that so hard?

VirtualBox + Windows (5, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589469)

Even if its not your primary means.... and believe me, I am a hardcore linux guy whose used linux on his desktop, even while working at VERY windows centric shops that didn't entirely approve. The key is to have windows available, either as a machine you can RDP or as a VM (preferable).

95% of things, you can find a fine Linux based alternative.... but every once in a while someone is gonna send you a non-xml visio or maybe you have to talk to an exchange server (I never had luck with the linux tools.... even when I got them to work).

As I type this, my work laptop is, in fact, setting up a windows VM for this purpose. At my previous job, we had both desktops and laptops, so i just did nearly everything on my laptop, which ran Ubuntu, and would just rdp control my desktop for reading email and filling out timesheets (which required IE)

Personally, I would love to ditch windows completely...but I need it for steam anyway (my only non-work use for windows), and while I don't mind spending half a day getting a new free software alternative running... few people have the patients to wait for me to do it on their time.... so, I have windows for those times, and just take everything I have to do in windows as something to add to my "upgrade to linux" punch list.

Re:VirtualBox + Windows (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589737)

Agreed. My last job required a Windows-based VPN that killed all other TCP connections. What a perfect place to use Linux as my base OS! My Windows Virtual machine was happily walled off, my Linux machine was still free to do anything else I wanted.

Re:VirtualBox + Windows (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589807)

VirtualBox is great for software, but if there's any piece of specialized hardware you need, it may be problematic or impossible. i.e. I needed to add a mouse to my Logitech unifying reciever. From the Linux side, I was able to assign the reciever to the Windows XP client, run the Logitech software and register the hardware. Then things locked up until I futzed around and shutdown the VM. Once I restarted the VM, everything worked great.

VirtualBox doesn't (or didn't) support Firewire which might be a problem for Mac work. Perhaps VirtualBox running on a Mac OSX box with VMs for Linux and Windows.

Re:VirtualBox + Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589947)

This guy should be modded +5 interesting, he's dead on here.

Get an Android Tablet (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589491)

I have an HP Touchpad with ICS installed on it, has everything I need for commuting. I use Itap RDP to remote into computers and servers, the mail client works great, even supports exchange. Other tools I use; VPN, Skype, and Facebook. A tablet is the perfect tool on the go.

What do they use? (1)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589529)

Most people in my organization telecommute, and we mostly use Google+ hangouts (with extras) whenever we need some face time with people elsewhere. It's worked well for us, but it has some limitations and it *is* controlled by a third party. We also use Google's Docs and Calendar tools heavily, so Google hangouts were a natural evolution. This works well in Linux and in both Firefox and Chrome.

That is on a technical level; in reality you are the one who needs to adapt. If you can dictate a solution, the one I propose is not bad. But you may have little choice because it's easier to change *you* than the rest of the organization if need be.

Unclear what the problem is (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589637)

It's hard to tell what you're looking for here. I'm not sure what would be considered a "telecommuting tool" or what kinds of communications you want to have with your clients. For example, it seems to me that a telephone would work well even if you didn't have a computer at all. Email works fine on Linux.

So let's start here: What are you used to doing on Windows that you're now having trouble doing on Linux? Is it an issue of trading documents, and you're not able to read some specific document format? Or are you trying to do video conferencing, and you haven't been able to find a good video chat client?

From the summary alone, I have no idea what the problem is.

Re:Unclear what the problem is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589961)

Gotta say I agree. I use Skype daily to voice and screen-share with people using Mac and Linux. I suppose it works on Windows too. When that fails, we've used join.me for screen-sharing, and there's always phone and email too. And Dropbox is great for files. "I can't find a tool that does X reliably" is one thing, but "I am having a hard time trying to find the right tools to keep communication flowing with my clients"... Seriously? There's no shortage of great tools out there.

Three machines (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589705)

Use all three on three separate machines and get a KVM switch to choose the most appropriate at the time. Some form of NAS would help.
Alternately, you could try to use one piece of hardware and VMs.

Here is how I handled it (1)

LyingDown (836007) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589725)

I have been doing this for 12 years. For the first 10 years I alternated between using Linux (which at times made it very difficult to interact with Windows clients) and using Windows, with all its attendant problems.

Here is what I have been doing for the past two years: A Ubuntu desktop system with multiple Windows virtual machines, using VirtualBox.

From the Linux system I can do most of my desktop work; PPTP VPN into customers and our other offices; RDP into Windows Servers; ssh into Linux systems; and LogMeIn into Windows desktops.

From the Windows VM I can run MS Outlook (when your organization runs Outlook you can make life VERY hard for yourself by using any other email client) and I use Cisco VPN and Cisco AnyConnect when necessary. I know there is a Cisco VPN client for Linux but I never got it working smoothly. As far as I know there is not an AnyConnect client.

When it comes to document compatibility, I can use MS Office in the Windows VM, or OOo in Linux -- they seem to interoperate very smoothly. But when needed I can run Visio or PowerPoint in MS Office.

The part I love best about this solution is the stability and restorability. I have multiple Windows VMs. One is my "real" work environment, so I back it up carefully (it's just a file!) and I don't install any suspect software. Another VM is a sandbox for when I need to load some software with a big footprint, or something I may not keep. I also have VMs for Windows Server, Windows development, etc. Limited only by the size of my disk.

Oh the other best part: many of those Cisco VPN connections force all of your network traffic through their tunnel. That can be fatal to productivity. So fire up a Windows VM and VPN from there. Your "real" desktop system is not affected -- you can still email, IM, surf porn, whatever.

What are you using now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39589859)

I re-read the question, but I didn't see any where the poster said what they were using on Windows to keep in touch. Chances are Linux has the software you need, or in a pinch, you can use CrossOver/Wine to run the Windows apps. But to answer this question first we need to know what it is the poster does. Do they need Citrix, remote desktop, VoIP, video chat?

I would just say.... (1)

Norwell Bob (982405) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589867)

Don't. If everybody you're dealing with it using Windows or Mac, then follow suit. If you want to use Linux, then do it on personal time... as somebody else said, I wouldn't jeopardize my income by switching platforms "just because".

And since I'm sure to get flamed by all the Linux advocates... let me pose this question. Let's say you're working in a Linux or a Mac shop, including Linux-only apps, and somebody comes in and decides they want to use Windows... you'd probably not want to accommodate them.

I'm all for Linux and rooting for underdogs and all that good stuff... but, if you need somebody who can put 100lb widgets on a shelf that's 6 feet high, and the underdog is 4'5" and sickly and weak, he just can't do the job, no matter how supportive you are.

Chatroom and wiki (1)

thaig (415462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589871)

Chatrooms are quick and people often end up helping each other thus saving you the trouble. I find them much better than forums or email for my most common communication. I set up one with ejabberd but you could use jabber.org or jwchat.org. There is even a browser based chat client so that your customers don't have to install anything: http://blog.jwchat.org/jwchat/ [jwchat.org]

  You can also log everything and when a user connects they get to see what happened recently instead of entering blind.

Wikis are convenient for typing up documentation and answers that you don't want to have to give again - they make it easy enough that you actually do it instead of putting it off.

Make sure you go and meet people in person every so often - makes all the tools work better.

Install several web browsers (at least Chrome and Firefox) - it's amazing how much that helps when trying to deal with some odd company web page.

rdesktop is obviously wonderful.

If you must have a windows machine, make it virtual - so convenient IMHO and you can snapshot the disk and move it from one computer to another and all sorts of useful things.

Twinkle is not a bad VOIP solution though old and it worked in my company where ekiga didn't really so it's worth trying.

Install a webcam at the remote locations if you can (we did this in our office) so that you can see who's there and who isn't when you are remote - very nice and gives one a sense of connection.

Sorry for the randomness of all that :-) Just what I thought as I thought it.

VMware (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589879)

Get VMware Workstation. Run a Windows VM in your Linux box, or vice versa. I'm on a Mac using VMware Fusion, but I do things in word and excel all the time and have a SuSE box (don't ask!) open right now for some dev work. It's honestly BETTER, for me as a develop, than an all-in-one environment, because the operating systems in VMs-as-containers means I don't run into application specific configuration or dependency hell. And, if need be, I can push a whole dev environment up into a service provider as a running host.

A few options to do this (1)

Sepiraph (1162995) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589889)

You have a few options:

1) Keep your work computer at work to run windows and set it up as a ssh server, then use vnc type of program to remotely ssh back to your computer from home. This is probably one of the simplest way as long as your company network team allows you to do this. This is fairly easy to setup.

2) Run windows at home inside a VM machine as others have suggested. This is much more involved as option #1 since you will have to set up everything from scratch AND you have to install all programs that was needed at work. Probably not very doable.

3) If your company has a VDI environment set up, then you can actually use something like Citrix receiver to directly login to your windows computer at work, which will work better than option #1. But this option is only restricted to those company that already has VDI so probably not applicable to that many people. (The company that I work for does this and I login to windows directly in Ubuntu, works great).

4) If all 3 above options do not apply, then consider just get a laptop from work (most people already get work laptop) and setup a VPN client so you can work from work (again check with network team but most company allows this type of setup), and if you still want Linux you can always use a KVM program like Synergy so you can run windows and Ubuntu side-by-side.

VMware (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589933)

I'm not sure what you're using it for, but if you want to do anything on any OS, you could go with VMware. It's not cheap but you can emulate just about any modern OS on it. You can either have it totally sandboxed (for testing or security) or you can allow it to share data between OS's. One of the problems I've had with Duel booting or just having multiple systems is getting data from one to the other easily. VMware lets you just cut and paste from a window running windows to a window running mac or linux.

It definitely has it's downsides (price mainly) but its good for tech support for sure. The customer has trouble with your software and has it installed on Windows95... What??! Are you really going to keep a PC sitting around with a Win95 install on it?

Anyway, just an idea.

Everything but Exchange (1)

ARos (1314459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39589993)

I use Fedora 16 and VPN into the office using PPTP. Aside from being required to use Office/Exchange (for which I use Winblows 2000 - the last Microsoft CD I own - on top of VirtualBox), virtually all of my needs are met with Fedora's distribution. If there are stupid ActiveX webapps or Java applets that weren't written with Linux in mind, then I might have to use Windows for that reason too. Life is a lot better for Linux desktop users now than it has been in the past. More enterprise vendors offer OS-agnostic web interfaces instead of desktop applications. Regrettably, many of them are starting to value their in-house and web 2.0 documentation more and are guarding them within an authentication wall. This causes problems when you'd like to use search engines to find answers to common problems. Meh.

Run. Run fast. (-1, Troll)

Horatio_Hellpop (926706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590027)

Away from Linux on the desktop. It is pure fail. I've tired every distro under the sun, and none of them are as consistent and as useful as Windows or Mac OS X for anything outside programming or l33t h@xorz. Don't listen to the freetardian chants of "um, security! Virus! Blue Screen!" Anyone with half a brain can secure a Windows box with two or three free apps. Same with OS X. Desktop linux will be a daily battle for you to turn work around to your non-linux customers, I promise you. They will soon stop putting up with the bullshit.

ssh -X (2)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590033)

ssh -X gives you all the gui you need on linux. You can even use cygwin as a client. Mac osx comes with a xserver client that automatically launches when that command is run.

only piece of commuting software I need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39590249)

sl

VMware or Virtualbox (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590417)

A VM is your answer. If not, then dual boot. In the worst case, buy two computers. If all you are short of is videoconferencing software, try Google Voice. I've heard the linux version works well. I Skype my folks from linux...It works well for that because I'm using only 2-way video and voice. You can't video conference with more than two and there are other issues as well, compliments of Microsoft, who has not updated the linux software in a long time.

Remote Desktop - TeamViewer (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590429)

Looking for remote desktop similar to and as easy as PCAnywhere - Team Viewer is about the only way to go, works on Mac/Linux/Windows and does quite a decent job of it.

Run a Windows App remotely, GoGlobal works fot that. Though the printing and file systems are kinda sucky.

What do you mean by "communication"? (0)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590433)

Your question isn't very clear. I'm going to assume that by "communication" you mean "talking to people". If that's the case, the answer really is old technology plus attitude, approach and effort. What tools do your clients use to communicate with each other (besides face to face)? Most likely the answer is telephone, e-mail, and exchange of documents. Maybe they also use some sort of IM client. You should do that -- talk on the phone, exchange e-mails and IMs, and read and write documents, and do all of it about twice as much as you feel you should have to, because not being there in person hurts your ability to communicate normally with them.

If you do want to add some cooler technology to make that work better, there are some options. You can replace (or augment) phone calls with video conferences. I work for Google, so we obviously do pretty much all remote conferencing via Google+ Hangouts, and it works really well. It's also extremely easy for people to install and run on their own machines, provides a shared whiteboard, screen sharing and shared document viewing/editing and runs on Windows, Mac and Linux (and Android, and ChromeOS, and maybe others, dunno). There are good remote collaborative document editing tools, too. Google Docs works very well, and I'm sure there are other options as well.

But if what you're asking about is communicating with people, the tech won't do nearly as much for you as just making a committed effort to overcommunicate. When your clients begin telling you that you really don't need to communicate with them quite so much, then you know you've got it about right. If it seems like putting this much effort into communication will make you less effective at actually getting stuff done, well, you're right. It's part of the cost of telecommuting.

Phone, and E-mail? Maybe chat? (1)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39590451)

The basics for communicating are: Phone, E-mail and Chat. Linux can do these. You forgot to say what work you do, though.

I use a hardware VoIP box (Linksys) for international communications so that I can use a real phone, offlineimap to keep IMAP fast enough to use, and ssh with port-forwarding instead of a VPN. (Create a local IP address on device 'lo' for each machine on the remote net, add the names to /etc/hosts, and then connect local <=> remote IPs with the same port number on the ssh command-line. You'll have to stop Apache/sshd/etc listening on those fake local IP addresses, though, but at least this way you can connect to N remote http or ssh servers each on port 80/22 of their own dedicated IP address, without having to remap anything locally at connect time.)
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?