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Re: [school-discuss] Remote GUI access (was Re: Emulation viaWindows)

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on Tue, May 31, 2005 at 01:18:52PM -0400, Hans Paijmans (J.J.Paijmans@xxxxxx) wrote:

> Jimmy Pierre wrote:
> ...
> >    - X server.  Install an X server on the legacy MS Windows box.  You
> >      then connect to a GNU/Linux system for applications.  Using XDMCP
> >      (X display manager control protocol) will provide the user with a
> >      user/pass login.  This is probably your best bet and the most
> >      widely used solution.
> >
> >      Advantages:  simple, low cost, fast, low server load, many users
> >          per server (20-40+).
> >      Disadvantages:  unsecured, not appropriate for open / unswitched
> >          networks.  May be tunneled over SSH for security.
> >
> >      - VNC  Users run VNC client on desktop, connect to VNC server.
> >      Running servers out of inetd / xinetd allows for automated
> >      connections (but no session persistance).
> >
> >      Advantages:  minimal client software.
> >      Disadvantages:  heavier server load, slower than X, unsecured,
> >          fewer clients / server than X.  May be tunneled over SSH for
> >          security.
> >
> >    - NoMachines "NX".  Haven't used it, though it's supposed to be
> >      faster/lighter than VNC, and offers built-in security.
> >
> I am familiar with the straight X server solution, and over a Cable
> connection its speed is unworkable. 

There are a number of options to speed X over slow connections, most
specifically 'lbxproxy', which you might want to investigate.
Tunnelling over SSH with a fast cipher (blowfish) and compression may
also speed overall performance, though both will introduce some latency.

> VNC also is slow, 

Likewise, there are options to improve its speed, including both
compression stream and jpeg compression, at a cost to image quality.

> and I never understood the purpose of it, at least
> not for my kind of work. 

VNC fits the niche of "provides remote access in a client / server
agnostic fashion".  There are VNC clients and servers for a wide range
of platforms, including GNU/Linux, legacy MS Windows, MacOS, PalmOS, and
others.  It doesn't require an X server, and allows sharing the current
desktop on many platforms.  I believe it shares its fundamental
mechanics with legacy MS Windows's remote desktop.

NX very nearly fills the same niche.

X differs in that while it _can_ allow a full-session remote access, it
will also allow remote access on a client-by-client
(application-by-application) basis.  That is:  you can run your primary
desktop on one system, but access other apps from arbitrary different
systems, either local or remote.

> I only heard about the NX server today, so I downloaded the FreeNX
> server and a few clients for Linux and Windows.
> From my point of view it offers access to a linux desktop over Cable
> at very good speeds, both from Linux and Windows and it blows X right
> out of the water. The documentation at Berloz.de is a bit scanty and I
> still am not certain what is possible or impossible with it. But it
> looks very, very good.

The main downside to NX is that it seems to lack for free software
implementations.  My understanding is that it's a proprietary system.
From a strategic perspecitive, since it's so close to a number of
alternatives (X, SSH forwarding, VNC, WTS), and focuses on an area
(cross-platform remote access) which is relatively obscure.  It's a
tough space for a proprietary solution.

While it's been kicking around for a few years, it really hasn't taken
off.  No reason not to use it, but it tends to keep my enthusiasm


Karsten M. Self <kmself@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
     Any time a business operation fails to meet its objective, it is the
     management team's failure -- not the subordinates working for them.
     - Karen Shaeffer, explaining No Excuses Management[TM]

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