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7. How to use LinFBB's "xfbbX", a GUI client for Linux


Well, soon after the installation of LinFBB v7.04 .rpm package, I noticed a new "kid on the block", i.e. a new item within the Start menu (under Gnome environment). That was a "HamRadio" group, having several "Xfbb version 7.04" sub-items and one of them was "xfbbd X Client".

It seemed that a mouse click on that "xfbbd X Client" icon was not likely to return any response, although xfbbd daemon has been successfully running before invoking the client. That's why I have been asking for help (related to that issue) from other LinFBB users, but it seemed there was no one capable to solve that problem. Anyway, it looks to me that there is a "dead" link from this "xfbbd X Client" icon to an existing executable.

Trying to find a solution, the other day I was browsing the /usr/sbin directory. I have noticed something that I have already seen for several times. That was xfbbX file. Well, I am sure that I tried to use this executable earlier, but without much success. This time, I have entered the full path, like this:


and, finally, the GUI client appeared on the screen.

So far - so good. Soon after, I realized that 'Monitoring' window was capable to monitor the actual traffic on the radio frequency, but not only that. Headers of all packets appear in green and the actual information is in blue, so it is easy to distinguish what is the header and what is the text info (comparing to my old X11 LinFBB application where everything came in black). What I could describe as a disadvantage of the 'Monitoring' window, is that the scroll bar does not give you much of the previous, already scrolled traffic.

The 'All channels' screen was even better, so the system user correspondents' traffic appeared in green, the local user's traffic was in black and the port information was in yellow. Unfortunately, there's no easy way (if any) to change colors (and that's the standard feature in WinFBB) for both 'Monitoring' and 'All channels' windows. Maybe I haven't managed yet to find a switch for that, so any useful info about is appreciated.

What I have also found a bit annoying, was that both windows mentioned above, appear not arranged side-by-side, a form that would be more suitable. Besides that, the third window, 'Console', has to be activated with another mouse click (instead of being activated automatically with the other two windows). Actually, the whole thing of xfbbX client seems to be primarily useful for sysops looking only for BBS's command line, in order to execute some server's commands etc. That's why I have found a bit strange why the console window must be activated separately (OK, I know that's the same with WinFBB's windows, but why not to add some additional feature?)

Anyway, the 'Console' connection window has almost the same functionality as WinFBB's 'Console' window. Here I think of the commands given at the BBS's command prompt, because they are invoked from the usual language *.TXT files.

But, the big disadvantage of today's version of xfbbX client, I've found here, is the absence of several useful icons, that I was very fond of within the WinFBB's user interface. For example, there are no icons for pending mail, users information, disconnect a user, edit a message text or a header etc. It looks to me that xfbbX developers are not likely to offer the full comfort that we have within WinFBB's GUI. It makes me wonder why? There are lots of commands that can not be easily activated without the proper icons. It drives me crazy whenever I have to re-boot to Windows to start WinFBB, in order to perform some simple tasks mentioned, using the mouse.

Besides that, there is no way to activate that nice message editor screen, very useful in WinFBB (also existed in an old Xwindows LinFBB application v7.00g from 1998!) The same goes for replying a message, where a sender does not get the text of a message to be replied to, within the new message body. In short, I don't like absence of all those earlier implemented, but now abandoned features.

Well, I can't imagine what Jean-Paul, F6FBB, and other developers would do in the future, but I am not satisfied with the idea to only keep further development of LinFBB server side, but, in the same time, to abandon the development of LinFBB's graphical client side. And not only that: It looks that MS Windows client for LinFBB server, xfbbW has been reported to be much more functional that described xfbbX, while, in the same time, WinFBB server development has been also stopped. A bit confusing situation, isn't it?

Some amateurs think that it is just a result of "global" IT situation: Linux (as well as other Unix-type platforms) is better suited for servers, but Windows is better for clients. If so, it looks that LinFBB packet-radio system operators, "sysop's", seem to be forced to run at least two computers, in order to get the same functionality they always had with WinFBB. I'd rather suggest to Jean-Paul, F6FBB, and other developers to transfer all known WinFBB's GUI features to xfbbX GUI environment, in order to avoid using two computers.


A couple of paragraphs ago, I said that "xfbbd X Client" icon didn't work under Gnome environment. It did make me wonder if it would work under KDE graphical user interface. So, this time I started KDE (and I did it as "root" so, in addition, I also got a mailbox icon on the desktop, named "fbb X11". When I located the mouse pointer over that icon, there appeared some more description: "F6FBB bbs Server for Packet Radio").

Well, when I tried to click on that icon, I got a KFM Warning message box explaining that program /root/.xfbbX could not be executed. Fortunately, a "right click" on the icon allowed to enter file's Properties. The Execute card gave me a possibility to change the path for a program to be used. So, I did some browsing and located the new path: /usr/sbin/xfbbX. After that, another click resulted in running the GUI client.

Interestingly, there is some slight difference between xfbbX appearance under KDE and Gnome. Actually, each KDE's xfbbX window has "FBB" logo in the upper left corner (Gnome's windows haven't that). That may indicate that xfbbX client was produced primarily for KDE environment. Besides that, it seems that other features are almost the same, regardless being within KDE or Gnome environment.

On the other side, the already mentioned "xfbbd X Client" item (within the Start menu, under yhe "HamRadio" group), still does not work. I suppose that there should also be some modifications, related to program executable paths, but I do not know how to manage that. Anyway, it does not matter because xfbbX is running here this or that way.

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