Linux in Government: Major Breakthrough in Linux Technology
I tested FreeNX before I knew anything about it. I'm currently on assignment to produce material for another Linux book. The editor asked me to write about Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as implemented by the open-source rdesktop and VNC. During my research, I ran across an article on how to install FreeNX.
I installed FreeNX on Ubuntu first, after obtaining it from the Ubuntu backports community. I followed the directions on the site and added the recommended mirrors to my /etc/apt/sources.list. I then ran apt-get install FreeNX and had my server.
Once installed, I added myself as a user; see Figure 1.
Following the set up, I logged out and saw FreeNX added to my menu; see Figure 2.
Next, I found RPMs for Fedora Core 3 and installed the client and server. Again, I added myself as a user.
In the client configuration section, Rick Stout wrote, "The most important part of the initial connection is the key file. This file, client.id_dsa.key, must be copied from the server to your client machine". Following his directions, I executed the following commands:
bash-3.00# scp /var/lib/nxserver/home/.ssh/client.id_dsa.key email@example.com:~/ The authenticity of host '192.168.1.109 (192.168.1.109)' can't be established. RSA key fingerprint is 40:54:e3:c9:5e:81:39:2d:ac:70:b9:bf:44:a9:ec:a8. Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes Warning: Permanently added '192.168.1.109' (RSA) to the list of known hosts. Password: client.id_dsa.key 100% 672 0.7KB/s 00:00 bash-3.00#
Switching between machines, I was surprised at FreeNX's performance as compared to every other thin client I have tested and used. I also noticed that I could set up the client to use VNC and RDP.
In the middle of doing some work, I remember thinking for some reason that OpenOffice.org Writer had started running faster than normal. I was amused when I realized I was running the word processor remotely.
FreeNX also opens sessions quickly. During testing, I suspended sessions rather than closed them. When I resumed a suspended session, the client revalidated but still resumed mid-session, at the point where I had left off. Although this is not a stateless session in the purest terms, it does save bandwidth; see Figures 3 and 4.
After discovering FreeNX and testing it in a heterogeneous environment, I decided to research it further. I found around 10% as much material on FreeNX and NX as I did on VNC. However, the reports I did find were wildly in favor of FreeNX. Here are a few excerpts from user comments reprinted from the link mentioned above:
It's not about simply remotely accessing a product, ala VNC, but creating a true "Thin Client" environment.
Imagine either a school or business with an Athlon 2400+ and 1[GB] RAM, as well as a pile of useless 486s laying about that they picked up for 2 cents each. Whack a network card in them and voila - you have a thin client - able to run all of the latest productivity apps. Why? Because it's all on the server! And yes, it scales. Think big!
Unlike RDP and VNC, the performance is great! It's actually usable and responsive over dialup - something that I cannot say about RDP or VNC! Ick!
No, it won't be a games machine - but it's not trying to be.
Here's one more:
We just got done with an implementation of this in a fairly good size school. We have modified the system to allow authentication by their Windows active directory. One Mandrake Linux server, with a nomachine client on 120 + Windows machines, which include one computer lab.
As usual, space requirements do not allow us to publish extensive user comments. If you would like to read more, simply do a Google search on FreeNX.
Practical books for the most technical people on the planet. Newly available books include:
- Agile Product Development by Ted Schmidt
- Improve Business Processes with an Enterprise Job Scheduler by Mike Diehl
- Finding Your Way: Mapping Your Network to Improve Manageability by Bill Childers
- DIY Commerce Site by Reven Lerner
Plus many more.