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Hack 35. Make Konqueror a Window into Remote Spaces

Use the KDE Konqueror file manager to access remote files as easily as local ones.

It is fairly common knowledge that KDE Konqueror functions as both a file manager and a browser. What you might not realize is that Konqueror can load modules that allow it to support many other protocols. Konqueror even handles the mundane protocols common to most browsers in superior ways.

5.2.1. Konquer Your Remote FTP Sites Using FTP and SFTP

Take FTP, for example. Most browsers support FTP access. Assuming you have an FTP account on a server, try these steps with Konqueror to see how it handles FTP access (don't bother trying this with a web browser, such as Firefox, because it won't work):

  1. Open a Konqueror window pointing to your home directory.

  2. Maximize the window (optional, but helpful).

  3. Press Ctrl-Shift-L to split the window.

  4. Click the window pane on the right side to make it the active one.

  5. In Konqueror's Location field, enter the URL to the FTP site where you have an account (for example, ftp://<yourserver>, or if you prefer secure FTP [SFTP, which is FTP over Secure SHell, or SSH], use the URL sftp://<yourserver>).

  6. Enter your username and password when prompted for them.

You should see two window panes: the one on the left contains your home files and directories, and the one on the right contains the files and directories at the remote SFTP server for which you have a valid account. You can drag files from one pane to the other to move or copy them. You can open documents on the SFTP site, edit them, and then save your changes. Most of the operations work just as though both panes point to directories on your local machine.

You can load a document from the remote server into virtually any program and modify that document. It doesn't matter if the program you use to modify the document is able to save documents to remote servers. When you save your changes and exit the program, Konqueror still has a copy of the modified document in a temporary file. A dialog box will appear asking you if you want to update the file on the remote server to reflect the changes you made.

There are some limitations to what you can do between local and remote directories, of course. You can't create symbolic links between the two locations, and some of the built-in Konqueror viewers work only on local files. For example, you can view the contents of a compressed tar archive in the local Konqueror window pane, as if the contents were in folders. If you click a compressed tar archive on the FTP site, you have to open the contents with the Ark application.

It is not necessary to split the window into two panes if that is not how you prefer to work. In this example, you could open two Konqueror windows, point one to your home directory and the other to the SFTP server, and get the same capabilities.

5.2.2. FISH with Konqueror

FISH works in basically the same way as SFTP in that it uses SSH to exchange information. Simply enter the URL fish://<yourserver> and enter a valid username and password for the server, and Konqueror will present you with access to the files almost as if they were local. (The same limitations apply as with SFTPyou cannot navigate compressed archives directly, etc.)

As with SFTP, you can open files, edit them, and save your changes, and Konqueror will ask you if you want to update the remote files.

5.2.3. Browse via LAN Connections with Konqueror

If you enter smb:/ (SMB is the protocol Microsoft Windows uses to share files) in Konqueror's Location field, it will show you the Windows workgroups that are available on your network. When you enter a workgroup folder you should see the servers that belong to the workgroup. From here you can browse to server shares and access remote files. Once again, you can treat the folders and files as if they are stored locally. If you open a file with a word processor, for example, and then you change the contents, save the file, and exit, Konqueror will ask you if you want to save the changes to the remote location. This works when the remote system is a Samba server, a Windows server, or even a Windows desktop that is sharing files.

Open a Konqueror window and type rlan:/<yourserver> in the Location field. You should see a number of network access methods, including FISH, FTP, NFS, SMB, and HTTP. This simplifies the various ways to access the remote server. Click the FISH folder, and it should ask you for your username and password (unless you've been accessing the site recently and it remembers you are still logged in).

For a more entertaining experience, put an audio CD into your CD-ROM drive and type audiocd:/ in the Location field. You should see all the tracks represented as individual WAV files. Depending on the plug-ins you have installed, you might also see folders for MP3 and Ogg Vorbis sound files. If you want to convert the songs on the CD to Ogg Vorbis format, simply open the Ogg Vorbis folder, drag tracks from the Ogg Vorbis folder to another folder on your disk, and choose Copy from the pop-up menu. Konqueror will perform the conversion automatically as it copies the files.

Open the KDE Control Center and click Sound & MultimediaAudio CDs to fine-tune the settings for your audio CD, how KDE formats the filenames for song tracks, and settings for the available sound formats, such as MP3 and Ogg Vorbis.

Want to locate every filename or directory name on your system that contains the string "Vorbis"? Type locate:Vorbis in the Location field and Konqueror will present you with everything it finds.

You can even view and manage your printers from within Konqueror. Type print:/ in the Location field to get to icons that will let you view your printers and print jobs, manage your printers, and more.

You can find a complete list of the protocols Konqueror supports on your machine by starting the KDE help system and clicking Kioslaves. Then click the protocol for more information. (The list of available protocols Konqueror supports varies according to how your distribution compiles KDE.)

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