GConf – My Knight in Shining Armour

26 04 2008

Graphical Editor for GConfIt’s late at night (or early in the morning to be precise); the exhaustion of preparing for a Physics exam toying with my patience, the Chennai heat getting on my nerves. And worst of all, terrible music playing in the backround, courtesy my friend who lacks a sense of aesthetics (no offense. Well, he never reads this blog anyway, so it doesn’t matter). There’s only way to save my sanity; turning on my Rhythmbox DAAP share (that’s same thing as iTunes music sharing), so that I can listen to something tangible on his computer.

Luckily, due to my persistent efforts, he is running Linux (Ubuntu Hardy Heron), so I pull up a terminal and try to SSH through. Bad move; I can’t remotely open up rhythmbox on my box. I could try running SSH with X11 forwarding (ssh -x), but that would just lack elegance (and there’s nothing more sacred then that). I decide to try using remote desktop (via Vinagre). Unfortunately, it gives a blank screen, and I realise why – I’ve set it to require approval before you login. Enter GConf.

GConf is somewhat like the Windows registry, only not so arcane. It stores all all the keys in a hierarical format that can be accessed either through the ‘gconftool-2’ (which I used), a directory structure and xml files (which isn’t right for this application. More on this later), or the graphical editor, gconfeditor-2 (which I couldn’t use). There are two things you need to save your soul if you are in a predicament such as mine; the key that lets you remote access, and the right command. It ends up that all the information is stored in a very aptly named path called remote_access. Finding that out was a simple grep away.

$> gconftool-2 -R / |grep remote

The -R flag says recursively go through the ‘registry’. The / gives you the starting point, and quite intuitively, it implies the root directory. You’ll end up finding some vague entries in a path /desktop/gnome/remote_desktop. Jackpot!

$> gconftool-2 -R /desktop/gnome/remote_access
authentication_methods = [vnc]
lock_screen_on_disconnect = false
use_alternative_port = false
require_encryption = false
view_only = false
prompt_enabled = true
icon_visibility = client
vnc_password =
enabled = true
local_only = false
alternative_port = 5900
mailto =

This is pretty straightforward. I just have to change prompt_enabled to false, and I’m through (Hallelujah). And that’s a simple:

$> gconftool-2 -t bool -s /desktop/gnome/remote_access/prompt_enabled false

The -t is to specify the type, which is boolean or ‘bool’.

The neat thing about using the GConf tool (gconftool-2) is that it automagically updates the application/applet you’ve modified (FYI, it uses DBus). This is why changing the entry in the directory structure manner isn’t of use to us right now. However, for the sake of completeness, you could modifiy this tag by editing ~/.gconf/desktop/gnome/apps/remote_access/%gconf.xml.

There are lots of neat things you can do with your GConf, like setting up global keybindings or changing the look of certain panel applets / programs. I’ll try and post on these at a later time.



13 responses

26 04 2008

Blah Blah Blah!!!!!
Sorry that was all the sense it made to me. You see some of your readers are technologically challenged.

26 04 2008

@Kavi: Yay, you actually do read my blog. I know this was a highly technical article. I’m sorry, but that’s the best way for me to generate content. I was majaarly pained earlier today, and thought I’d put out a flame-broiled post about how everyone’s a self-centered prick (myself included), but I had a nice friendly conversation with a friend, so I’m afraid all my angst is lost. Guess you’ll have to wait a little longer for a ‘post’.

28 04 2008
Akarsh Simha

$ ssh akarsh@
$ screen -rd


28 04 2008
Akarsh Simha

Anyway, I can’t do “music forwarding” on the terminal as yet (I don’t know how to use Pulse Audio), but in any case it is possible. I’d more trivially use my web shares to play songs remotely using a decent app like Amarok.

28 04 2008

@Akarsh: That would work only if I had a running screen process, which I don’t. Secondly, the music forwarding you’re talking about doesn’t require any knowledge of Pulse Audio. What it requires is a client that supports either DAAP or uPnP. What Lennart (worship worship) showed us was streaming to other devices, and that is why he wanted uPnP support for it. So you’d require a program that is playing music in either case. Further more, I don’t *want* to do music sharing via the terminal. I’d rather run a little DAAP server separately (i.e. not linked to any music player or other program) (dappd).

As for using webshares, the point was I had to work with an existing setup. One question I have is do I have to specify each file I want to play or does it recursively walk the directory tree and import all the songs? Rhythmbox (and Amarok for that matter) has already cataloged my music collection and all, so I find it peace to do it that way. Finally, I think you’re cribbing because GNOME has this but KDE doesn’t :-P.

2 05 2008

“Finally, I think you’re cribbing because GNOME has this but KDE doesn’t :-P.”

Well said. DAAP sharing is nice. I always listen to music from Slinky’s Comp 🙂

9 05 2008

real men listen to streams from last.fm

9 05 2008

Sup3rkiddo! I am honoured. The only issue with that is the our institute blocks last.fm ports (byaaastards). Otherwise, last.fm rocks (and thank god everyone’s left campus, now I can listen through the web-client peacefully) Thankfully, i’m still scrobbling, so once i’m back home, i’ll be listening to some good music.

14 05 2008
Akarsh Simha

“Finally, I think you’re cribbing because GNOME has this but KDE doesn’t :-P.”

Well said :-P. I find this pretty ununderstandable, slow and useless. I prefer my to SSH into my comp and host all my music on my web server (I already do that) and play from there.

Anyway, as is typical, half of what you said in your reply was ununderstandable to the ordinary n00b [me]. But I guess I vaguely understand what you’re trying to drive home.

14 05 2008

Well, I guess this all depends on how we organize and listen to music. I have a large music collection (also largely tagged), and I prefer to have it handled by a media library so I can access music by artist, album, genre even. Besides, I require the more powerful playlist features that Rhythmbox provides.

16 05 2008
Pranesh S

Even though I live on gnome – bah to Rhythmbox. Amarok is god.

I do know that Rhythmbox is tightly integrated with Gnome, esp Gnome Do! 😀
However, Amarok’s Context Browser just takes the cake. 🙂 . It is also like a text editor. You stick with the first one that you like. First Love, perhaps?

In a nutshell as long as you do not use mplayer to manage your music Lib, I think it is fine.

Media streaming in Insti *has* to improve. So does Twittering. We should learn from KGP really. Indiatwit is managed by a friend of mine from there. Their Media streaming and last.fm presence is awesome too.

(Even if people are there in insti, you can listen to the live stream through the web interface 😛 )

Oh yes, do add me on last.fm .

16 05 2008

@Pranesh: Hey!
I can’t deny that Amarok really kick the llama’s ass better than anything else. I’d use it if I weren’t so loath to use any KDE on my GNOME (slows things down like hell. Besides things look ugly and crash really often). But you should have a re-look at Rhythmbox, it’s really improved over the past year.

I managed to get gtwitter working fine (had to run from a terminal. It didn’t recognize me GNOME Proxy settings sadly). And approve my twitter add request already ;-). And finally, I don’t know which is your last.fm account, mine is arunchaganty. add me instead.

16 05 2008
Pranesh S

Oops! Sorry about the twitter invitation. When I checked just now, I had upto 12 twitter requests. Yeek!

Needless to say, Accpted!

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