I was so beside myself with excitement (read geeked) over Citrix XenDesktop virtualization technology that although I typically do not write two posts within a 24-hour period, I am compelled to do so.
As many of hittingthesweetspot’s readers know, I have gone “back to school,” am in classes full time during the day and working part-time as a food server at a local senior living community. All of this activity has me at times struggling to find time to blog, but no time like the present.
The school I attend, like most businesses, runs on Windows. That is how the world works and I have long since adjusted to this fact. I do not get into flame wars regarding technology choices—use what you like to use to get the things done that you must.
This is why I am a proponent of adopting the technology and its accompanying hardware and software that works best for me. Accordingly, at the school level, I always used my Windows boxes to remotely access what I needed to.
I was most frequently using the email system as a document transporter. I always remembered to email myself whatever text documents and papers I created in Microsoft Word at school so I could easily access them on my home computers.
The school uses Microsoft Office 2010 and fortunately I am able to access these documents in Office 2008 on my Macs or via my PCs and the various open source word processors available. Text documents I create for school are pretty straightforward so I have absolutely zero concerns with potential formatting issues or formatting not being retained when opening and saving in say, an old OpenOffice version for PowerPC or even the modern LibreOffice 4.0.2.
As many in the corporate world who have portions of their local disk storage set aside for individual use, my fellow students and I have similar storage options for our data and document destinations at school. Until yesterday afternoon, I was merely content to access the student portal and email systems remotely and wasn’t concerned with my local disk storage at school. I was using the aforementioned email transport system, but realized if my memory failed me and I either didn’t a) email myself a document, or b) save the document on a portable drive before leaving school at the end of the day, I would not have access to any papers in composition mid-stream (that I began while at school).
Although I remembered to email myself the documents I needed, I recalled the IT guy lecturing us during orientation about desktop virtualization options being available so we could access our documents and school resources from home.
I went to the website on one of my PCs, read the instructions and downloaded and installed the Citrex XenDesktop plug-in for use. Within minutes I had arrived at the desktop of my school computer and all the programs and documents I utilized daily while there.
I quickly logged off. I’d venture to say some of you fellow geeks know where I was going with this—I had to try it out on my suped-up G4 Sawtooth tower.
Was there support for this PowerPC beast running OS X 10.5.8 Leopard?
Were the palms of my hands becoming moist with anticipation?
By golly I do believe they were. Good thing my Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 has an elevated and ample, leather-like wrist rest to support my suddenly twitching digits.
I fired up Leopard WebKit and moseyed on over to the website. I was prompted to download the plug-in. Hmm…good sign (if it lets you download something, there’s hope!). I downloaded the plugin to the Sawtooth’s desktop. I doubled clicked the installer package and poof!—the installer ran through its paces, completing with the wonderful-to-read “The installation was successful!” (exclamation point inserted by me) message. I went back to the virtual desktop login prompt, put in my credentials and waited, waited some more. No joy.
Error message—one error! “Click here if you are having log-in problems.” No help there, bummer.
On a whim and a hunch, I fired up Roccat and bam! I was in at my school’s computer desktop.
All the glory that was Microsoft Office 2010, Windows 7 Enterprise, Internet Exploder web browser (older versions of Firefox and Google Chrome are available too, I found out later) and all the school’s online library resources were all there at my disposal as if I were physically at the school!
I logged off and shut down Roccat. I then fired up TenFourFox and logged in just fine once again. I realized this morning that I had the “ClickToPlugIn” extension enabled in Leopard WebKit. I unchecked it in Leopard WebKit’s preferences dialogue box and voila! Leopard WebKit joy for my school virtual desktop resources was mine.
I typed up a paper in Word and printed it to my old HP Officejet 4215—it printed without issue and as if it was coming from my Mac’s hard drive—fast and without any stalling—sweet, shared printer access! I then saved a copy of the document to my Mac (after easily enabling read/write privileges). I then utilized the browsers in virtualization for research purposes and giddily found they were as fast as my Mac’s browsers like Roccat, Leopard WebKit and TenFourFox running natively.
Some may say the future of old Macs is Linux. That may be, but if the future is now, I have seen the future utilization of PowerPC and Intel Macs running OS X 10.5 Leopard and OS X 10.4 Tiger, for that matter, and at least one of its names is Citrix XenDesktop.