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Old 10-03-2006, 02:17 PM   #1
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Linux VM vs. Xwin32/Exceed for remote apps

Hello everyone. As far as Linux goes I am still somewhere between 'noob' and 'somewhat experienced'. This is a multipart question. I want to connect to my SuSE workstation at home from a remote site and run applications. I do not want the desktop, I just want to run apps. At the remote sites I have to use Windows systems. I have SSH and port forwarding set up and currently using XWin-32 (or Exceed) I can do this with no real problem.

Question #1 - Performance in both XWin32 and Exceed is poorer than I expected especially on window rendering. The connection between remote site and home is not the issue (Remote = DS3 to Home = 768kb/s) it just seems the rendering is the problem. Would I be better off building a Linux Virtual machine or using something like Knoppix in a virtual machine on the windows box? Would using an actual Linux distro as the X client have better results than XWin32 or Exceed?

Question #2 - If using a Linux distro is going to be better than how do I run the remote apps on my Linux VM? I attempted it but this is where my Linux knowledge breaks down, I am obviously missing something. I did an SSH to the remote machine and when I try to run 'firefix &' I get this error "GTK Warning ** Cannot open display" Don't I need to set up the SSH port forwarding and target display somewhere?

Old 10-04-2006, 10:58 AM   #2
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I've used Exceed for years and have been quite happy with it. What "rendering" issues are you having? You say you don't want the desktop so I'm assuming you've disabled xdmp and are just starting Exceed to show the X items on your Windoze desktop?
Old 10-04-2006, 11:34 AM   #3
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Running X, whether just an app or a full desktop, over anything less than LAN speeds is just too slow for reasonable use in my experience.

I would recommend installing the FreeNX server on your home SuSE box, and then install the NX client on your Windows box. A Windows NX client can be downloaded for free from The FreeNX server that you need to install on SuSE is available from

From that NoMachine website, you can download the Windows client and then use it to connect to their NX server for a demo, before you install the FreeNX server at home. See if you like it. Their demo server gives you a full KDE desktop if I remember correctly. The speed is amazing.

I found that running just an X app using ssh tunnelling to home was dreadfully slow over the Internet. Running FreeNX over that same Internet connection had me running a full Gnome desktop at speeds an order of magnitude (or more) over regular X.

Think of NX as X, but compressed (therefore much faster) and encrypted.


p.s. - I just went to the NoMachine website and see that they now offer an "NX Free Edition for Linux" on their server download page. Used to be they'd give you the client for free, but you had to pay for the server (hence the "FreeNX" project - which was supported by NoMachine, BTW). I'm not sure how this new "Free Edition" compares to their regular "NX Server". I don't see any documentation on the differences readily apparent on the website either. So NoMachine's "Free Edition" may or may not be a reasonable alternative to "FreeNX". It may even be the exact same product, for all I know.


Last edited by haertig; 10-04-2006 at 11:43 AM.
Old 10-04-2006, 11:34 AM   #4
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Actually I've never been able to get XDMP working on this system (works on my other one) but that's a side note. I actually prefer to run the X windows remotely anyway. By rendering issues I mean it takes forever to draw the windows on my screen, or to actually interface with them. Trying to type a URL into firefox running in a remote X window is very painful.

I did find the answer to my questions though. From the Linux VM at work I could not get windows to show from the remote system apparently because the $DISPLAY variable was blank once I was connected via SSH. I found that the X switch fixed that problem. However the window draw time and interaction was far worse in the Linux VM than it is on the windows OS when running Xwin or Exceed. That came as a surprise... wouldn't the Linux VM be faster?
Old 10-04-2006, 12:17 PM   #5
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NX reminds me very strongly of something I work with in the Windows world everyday... let's see... oh yeah Citrix Only I've seen the cost to run Citrix. I tried out the NX demo and indeed it was faster, I think I will look into it as opposed to the SSH tunnel. Thanks for pointing this awesome piece of software out to me.

What is the difference between FreeNX and NoMachine's NX?
* NoMachine develops a commercial management platform in addition to the libraries they release as OSS.
* NoMachine offers customers commercial support.
* NoMachine develops cross-platform clients that are freely usable, the nxc-client from the FreeNX-project is under development along with the moznx (which is a mozilla-plugin based client).
* The NoMachine server has sound- and Samba/SMB-support, while this is at an experimental stage in the FreeNX server.

Last edited by mrknight; 10-04-2006 at 06:54 PM.
Old 10-12-2006, 11:51 AM   #6
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Downloaded and installed the Free version of NoMachines NX server. It seems to have the full functionality of the pay versions, the only limitation is a max of 2 similtaneous sessions. I am very impressed with this product, I am able to seamlessly run several Linux apps and RDP apps at the same time without noticing lag or stutters over the Internet connection. The server is on a WAN that only allows 768KB/s total upload, and I know that at least 250KB/s of that is used by something else.

Anyway this product has my vote of confidence for anyone wanting to run their apps remotely - and hey, it's free!

Last edited by mrknight; 10-12-2006 at 12:23 PM.


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