Friday, April 5, 2013

How to do a WebEx screen share on 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04

If your favorite operating system is Ubuntu/Linux, then you might agree with me when I say that its a bit of a pain to have to login to Windows just to join a WebEx session. Well if its just attending WebEx as a listener/viewer its one thing. Imagine if you do all your development in Ubuntu and have all your server/environment etc setup in Ubuntu, and you have to demonstrate your work via a WebEx by sharing your screen. Needless to say having to setup an identical work environment on Windows merely for a presentation is not worth it! As if its going to work just like that on Windows anyway ;) No offense meant, but as software developers we know all too well that its not so simple to switch between platforms.

That doesn't mean you can stay away from doing the demonstrations either. So the next solution is to somehow get the blessed thing to work on Ubuntu. If you are using a 32-bit distribution on Ubuntu, then it might be pretty simple, all you need to do is simply install the 32-bit Java plugin to your Firefox web browser and join the WebEx. However if you are using a 64-bit Ubuntu distribution just installing the Java plugin to your existing (64-bit) Firefox might not work. I know it didn't work for me, initially.

So lets see how you can get WebEx applet to work on 64-bit Ubuntu (12.04).

1. First you need to install ia32-libs on your machine, follow this post if you have issues installing it.
2. Next download 32-bit Firefox and 32-bit Java (JDK) to your machine. (I am assuming you can Google and find the downloads :))
3. Extract Firefox and the JDK to a directory, lets say ~/webex/firefox/ and ~/webex/jdk_<version>/ respectively.
4. The you need to create a symbolic link in ~/webex/firefox/plugins/ directory to ~/webex/jdk_<version>/jre/lib/i386/ You can do that as follows;

$cd ~/webex/firefox/
$mkdir plugins
$cd plugins/
$ln -s ~/webex/jdk_/jre/lib/i386/

This will basically install the 32-bit Java plugin for your new 32-bit Firefox.

5. Now you are all good to go, simply run Firefox as follows;

$cd ~/webex/firefox/

Make sure you do a "./firefox" and not just "firefox" which might open the default 64-bit browser.

6. To make sure that 32-bit Java is installed correctly go to Java test page and check if the "Java Architecture" is "32-bit". If so, congratulations you are good to go!

Good Luck .! :)