Using Tonido – Part 1
In previous posts, we introduced Tonido and talked about some of the salient features of the Tonido platform. In this post, we will talk about the Tonido end user experience and walk through profile creation and inital login. We will also cover some of the features available via the Tonido Admin User Interface.
Tonido is a desktop application, therefore you will need to download and install the application for your operating system. Tonido runs on Windows (2000, XP, Vista and even 7), Mac OS X 10.5 and Ubuntu/Xubuntu/Kubuntu 8.04. Tonido is written to be as lean and mean as possible, and the download will be small (~9 MB for Windows which includes the four applications) and the runtime footprint will be very minimal even with four apps running. You can rest easy. There is no Java or .NET in sight.
Depending upon your operating system, the install procedure is slightly different, but it should be very straightforward. After install, you can launch Tonido from your launch menu, and you will see Tonido running in the system tray/tool bar/dock.
So far, there is nothing to indicate that there is any difference between Tonido and any other application out there. But once you start Tonido, you will see that instead of a native UI, a browser window opens, with a start up page. This browser window’s web page is actually being rendered by Tonido you have installed in your local machine! You are not interacting with a third party website.
The first page you see is the profile list page. Tonido supports the concept of profiles for the machine you are running Tonido on. You can create any number of profiles in Tonido, but you can only login into Tonido in one profile from a device at one time. For example, you might have one profile, while your spouse has another. Each Tonido profile is completely separate and has their own separate application data; separate groups; settings etc.
Obviously, if you are installing Tonido for the first time, there are no profiles; so you will need to create one. Tonido profile creation is quick and painless and it is a breeze to go through. It is also non-intrusive, we don’t even ask for an email ID. But there is one caveat; Tonido profile creation requires you to be online. The reason is that the Tonido profile provides you with an Tonido ID that can be used by other Tonido contacts to get in touch with and create groups with etc. Tonido stores very minimal information about your profile; just enough to perform authentication and to verify that no one else can pose as you. Also note that after profile creation, you do not need to be online EVER to use Tonido and its applications. In fact, no information is ever sent externally even when you are logging into your profile!
This means that you can use Tonido and its applications completely offline.
The Tonido ID I refer to previously is your unique ID for that device in which Tonido is installed. It is superficially similar to a Yahoo or Google Account, except that you can only login into that profile from that machine. You can use that profile from another machine, if you want, by copying the profile data into that new machine.
Tonido IDs looks like an email id, “USERNAME@DOMAIN.COM”. For example, if your profile name is ‘mike’ it will look like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Note that although, it looks a lot like an email address, if you try sending an email to that address, it won’t go anywhere. (*currently)
During profile creation, note that you need to choose a strong password (at least 8 characters; with atleast 1 number). You also need to choose a remote login question and password to serve as additional security measures when you are logging into Tonido remotely from a non-local machine.
Once you create a profile; you will see your profile in the profile list and you can select and login using your password to begin.
You normally login into the Tonido Admin, which is the administrative interface to Tonido. This is the launchpad and the control panel for Tonido. There are several things going on in the admin panel.
The summary panel in the Tonido admin, shows your profile information, your Tonido ID, your unique URL and settings for your Tonido Web Access as well as Tonido Network. Available Tonido and application updates are also shown here. Tonido supports direct updates (similar to Firefox), so when a new version is released, you can simply click to install the new updates without having to download a new installer.
Tonido, if you haven’t heard by now is a platform and therefore it supports a varied number of different applications. Your list of installed applications is shown and you can launch them from that panel. When you launch an application, that application’s UI opens. Usually, there is a way to get back into the Tonido Admin UI from the application.
Tonido Admin allows you to manage your installed applications. This behaves similar to Firefox addons functionality. You can suspend, uninstall applications and even install new applications from within Tonido. And unlike Firefox, suspending, resuming and even installing new applications does not require a restart. 🙂
Group List / Online Tonido Contacts
Tonido connects to other Tonido instances directly via the Tonido Network. You can form Tonido groups with other Tonido contacts. The list of your groups and online Tonido contacts is shown in the panel quite similar to any IM program. You can even click on the Tonido Contact to view more details and to interact with that Tonido Contact.
You can also manage your groups, send invitations, manage sent invitations, etc. There are two kinds of groups currently supported in Tonido, Open and restricted groups. They mainly differ in who can invite whom into the group. But we will get in more detail about them later.
Tonido supports a simple messaging system akin to email. You can send messages to Tonido contacts via the Tonido network. Similar to email, you just type in the Tonido ID of the contact, type the message and send. When the contact is next online, he will get the message directly from you.
Remote Access via Tonido Network
In addition to supporting remote access via the web access (or HTTP), Tonido also supports connecting to another Tonido profile via the Tonido network. In this case, HTTP requests are tunneled via the Tonido network. The advantage is that you do not need to setup any port forwarding via your router to access your profile data remotely from another device. All you need is a local Tonido instance running. Think of remote access as zero config; but you need Tonido to be available in the local machine. Obviously for security, this is turned OFF by default. We will look at this feature in more detail later.
Tonido shows you a log of all important activities occurring within Tonido. Kind of useful to figure out what happened when.
There are a bunch of more stuff in the Tonido Admin, but the above list covers the majority of things you will usually do. These are the core Tonido features that by in itself are interesting. But when combined with Tonido applications that utilize them, they become much more interesting.
Most people will spend more time using the Tonido Applications than the Admin and that is what we will cover in the upcoming posts. Stay tuned.
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