Setup WebEx on 64 bit Ubuntu 12.04 using 32 bit Oracle Java

WebEx would not work on Ubuntu 12.04 64 bit with default configuration. It requires 32 bit java. WebEx control window would launch but desktop sharing, application sharing, white-board etc. do not show up. Neither I could see other people’s shared content nor I could share mine even if I am the host of the meeting.

Starting Firefox from command line on a terminal shows ELFCLASS32 error from WebEx shared objects. So it was clear that WebEx would not work on 64 bit system as is and would need 32 bit java to work. Because I use 64 bit system I do not want to downgrade to a 32 bit version just for the sake of WebEx.

In brief, these three steps cover the fix.

  1. Install 32 bit Oracle Java locally. Oracle Java is must and OpenJDK would not cut. Warning: because it is local installation, user would need to manually keep on updating as new java becomes available. Recently there have been many releases from Oracle which came with very little time in between addressing major security issues so this would be concerning.
  2. Install Firefox locally so it can be configured to use this 32 bit java. Add a different profile and use a different theme so it does not conflict with the native Firefox and clearly stands out if both are running.
  3. (Optional) Add shortcut in Unity HUD for quick access.
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Add a custom script in Unity HUD

Here is how to add a custom script in Unity HUD/dash for quick access. /usr/share/applications directory has all shortcuts for Unity desktop. So create a file named “mycustomscript.desktop” (or any_name_you_like.desktop) there which has information about the custom script. Additionally an icon could be added by pointing to an image. Files in /usr/share/applications directory have to be created as root.

 [Desktop Entry]
 Version=1.0
 Type=Application
 Terminal=false
 StartupNotify=true
 Icon=/home/vishalj/Pictures/mycustomscript.jpeg
 Name=MyCustomScript
 Comment=My Custom Script for X, Y and Z
 Exec=/home/vishalj/scripts/mycustomscript.sh
 Categories=Application;Productivity
 

Then run sudo update-desktop-database after which you will be able to use Unity HUD for invoking the custom script. Also note that each time you update a .desktop file you have to run update-desktop-database.

VPN : Connecting to Nortel VPN from Linux

I moved to Ubuntu full-time a while back. See the first part Migrating from Windows to Linux. But VPN into my office from Linux remained an open issue because my organization uses Nortel Contivity. Ubuntu comes with vpn client but that does not work with Nortel. Then I found vpnc-nortel branch of vpnc open source project that can connect to Nortel vpn servers. In this series I will explain how to connect to Nortel VPN from Ubuntu. You may need to tweak few of these instructions for your favourite Linux version. I am on Ubuntu 11.10 x86_64, using vpnc version 0.5.3-481.

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Migrating from Windows to Linux

What would one need to move off of Windows in corporate world? A replacement for Microsoft Office Suit. Linux has LibreOffice as replacement for MS Word, Excel, Power Point etc. If you are a power user of these tools then it will be difficult to migrate to LibreOffice but hey that is a start. If for Outlook, your organization provides access via WebMail interface, then you are in clear with using any email client on Linux that supports Pop or IMAP by making use of DavMail. Though Evolution support a direct access to WebMail or even MAPI, but Evolution itself is very thick and sometimes slow. Then came out Ubuntu 11.10 which provides Thunderbird as the default email client with integration to desktop and Unity. Perfect.

Here is the list of replacements that are available on Linux. I will cover setup for DavMail and Thunderbird in another post. Continue reading