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X Server Now Available For Android

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the x11-will-never-die dept.

Android 131

New submitter mkwan writes "The open-source X Server for Android has hit beta and is now available for download through the Android Market. On Australian networks at least, smartphones are assigned publicly-accessible IP addresses, so it should be possible to display many Linux applications on an Android smartphone simply by setting the DISPLAY environment variable to the phone's IP address followed by :0" The source is available under the MIT license (or Apache; the project page and story disagree) over at Google Code. It doesn't support all of the X protocol and there's no Xlib implementation (i.e. no X11 apps on the device yet except via the NDK if you're lucky), but it is a reimplementation of the X server in Java for Android. You can run remote applications at least.

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Sounds funky but (4, Informative)

mSparks43 (757109) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264885)

Why?

Re:Sounds funky but (3, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264963)

Same reason as SSH - it's a convenient platform. It'd be nice, if I needed to do something work related (or access something on my home machine) to have an available X session.

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265067)

Why would anybody want to run a server from a phone? The data caps would kill you, not to mention the throughpu! And what about battery life! Can you still make calls? Play games?

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265165)

Sprint Son, ya heard?

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265279)

I don't get it. You mean that sprint doesn't have data caps. But it does! There are dta caps on all US companies now.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265539)

I don't get it. You mean that sprint doesn't have data caps. But it does! There are dta caps on all US companies now.

I'd better take a closer look at my Sprint bill, then. Having trouble finding that.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265693)

Sprint data cap doesn't apply to smart phones yet.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Pokermike (896718) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265901)

Perhaps GP was referring to this cap Sprint instituted around October or November of 2011 [arstechnica.com] on tablets, hot spots, and tethered mobile phones. Still unlimited data for untethered phones (I think).

From the announcement on Sprint's website [sprint.com] :

Data usage limits when using 3G/4G Mobile broadband devices

If you have a mobile broadband device such as a tablet, netbook, notebook, USB card, connection card or Mobile Hotspot device, effective beginning with your next bill following notification, your on-network monthly data allowance will no longer include unlimited 4G.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265935)

I don't get it. You mean that sprint doesn't have data caps. But it does! There are dta caps on all US companies now.

MetroPCS doesn't have data caps, even for 4g.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267131)

Don't they (like TMO) slow you down over a certain amount though?

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39265213)

You run it only when needed... He specifically said "same reason as SSH". That is, access a remote system to do some actions...
You sure can still call (unless you are on CDMA...) and play games...
You must also know that when the server is idle, it consumes neither data nor battery...

Re:Sounds funky but (4, Informative)

harrkev (623093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265981)

No, you probably CAN'T play games. Really, I just played around with it. Close to useless.

For example, nedit won't start. Emacs won't start. You CAN start an xterm, and then have access to all terminal goodness, but there are SSH clients for Android that will do just as well.

The feat if truly impressive, but not enough of "X" is implemented to make it much more than a toy.

When you try to run something serious, this is what you get:

X Error: BadImplementation (server does not implement operation) 17
    Major opcode: 20 (X_GetProperty)
    Resource id: 0x0
X Error: BadLength (poly request too large or internal Xlib length error) 16
    Major opcode: 72 (X_PutImage)
    Resource id: 0x0

Cool concept, but it needs more work to be truly usable for anything beyond "xeyes" or "xclock."

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39268283)

WebOS platforms have been able to run a full fledged x server for ages. You can even run xfce!

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

mkwan (2589113) | more than 2 years ago | (#39268319)

The BadImplementation error is because there's no ICCCM-compliant window manager running. You could try running a window manager remotely, but it's fiddly. The BadLength error might actually be a bug.

Re:Sounds funky but (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39268507)

The BadImplementation error is because there's no ICCCM-compliant window manager running.

Are you sure? I thought any window at any nesting level could have arbitrary properties (indexed by atoms). It sounds like the XGetProperty call is unimplemented. If that's the case, then running an ICCCM WM is impossible.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265217)

Heh, I hadn't even thought about the phone aspect - low rez, yuck. I was mostly thinking about tablets, but even in the case of a phone:

Some of us don't have data caps. Even then, many phones can use WiFi... Which mitigates your throughput complaint.

Battery life could be an issue, varies by phone/tablet.

Both of my previous android phones allowed me to make calls while using apps. My current phone is WP7, so it isn't relevant to the conversation.

Play games while using X, or play games that use X? Guessing both. I expect the developers of this put each "window" on it's own screen, or set a number pf screens, and let the windows play around in there.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

DarthJohn (1160097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265723)

I expect the developers of this put each "window" on it's own screen, or set a number pf screens, and let the windows play around in there.

Nope. It's just a plain X server. No window manager. On my Motorola DROID (original) I was able to run xterm. I used connect bot to ssh to my Debian box, set the DISPLAY environment variable to the IP address (WiFi) of my phone and ran xterm. The X Server app acts like any other app in switching back to it and the xterm just sat there in the top left of the screen. Touching and swiping just move the mouse cursor. There's no window manager, so you have to move the cursor over the app you want to have focus (can't type in the xterm unless the cursor is somewhere over it ala 'hover focus') and I haven't tried more than just the one xterm yet. I did try to run fvwm from the Debian box with the -display switch but crashed the X Server app.

Anyhow, it's not X clients split up on different screens or anything as fancy as that. It's an implementation of the X server on Android. You get a basic desktop area or whatever the traditional X11 term is and not even so much as window decorations.

Also to the op question of "why" I downloaded it and checked it out "just because." Having an SSH client is useful enough. I played around with one of the VNC clients also but just enough to decide it was cool but not very useful to me, this X Server will probably fall into the same category for me.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266139)

Non-iPhone phones are just now starting to get 720p displays in the 4" formfactor, and 4.0 ICS devices support USB and Bluetooth HID prehiprials. Provided you have the eyes for it (or reading glasses, at least) you shouldn't have too much trouble emulating the 1998 desktop experience on a phone

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265309)

It's an X server, not a webserver. What it does is allow apps designed for X to run on your phone. It doesn't even need to touch the network.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265375)

If I understand the summary correctly, it allows apps designed for X to use your phone as the display.

Re:Sounds funky but (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265509)

If I understand the summary correctly, it allows apps designed for X to use your phone as the display.

Which is actually a lot better, if you think about it. It lets you have an app 'running' on your Android device anywhere, but with the performance of your 8-core 4GHz x86 PC at home.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265573)

It's an X server, not a webserver. What it does is allow apps designed for X to run on your phone. It doesn't even need to touch the network.

X Windows consider the screen to be what is being "served", so an X server is on the device with the screen. It allows X apps to be run on local or remote machines. If someone has compiled an X app to run inside an Android phone, then you might be able to access it now.

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39265647)

Why would anybody want to run a server from a phone? The data caps would kill you, not to mention the throughpu! And what about battery life! Can you still make calls? Play games?

The application is run remotely on the X client and send simple (well, compared to most other protocols nowadays) drawing instructions to the X server, which in turn only draws it on the screen (and thus present it to the user) and send back any user interaction (mouse clicks, keyboard input et c.) to the client.These drawing instruction is more compact then streamed video, even more compact then most commercial web-pages these days (you don't have to send the inner workings of the "page", just how it looks). The user feedback sent from the X server to the client is just coordinates that have been clicked, keys that have been pressed et c.

You could compare it to the Opera Mini browser (especially developed for low-processing power, low bandwidth mobile phones in the 1990's, before "real" web browsers (with javascript, css, html et c.) could run on mobile phones), which work in a similar fashion. Opera Mini consist of two part, a server program running on a "real" computer (similar to the X client) and a client program running on the phone (similar to the X server). The Opera Mini server process the web-page code and send drawing instruction to the Opera Mini browser (the client) running on the phone. Then the Opera Mini Browser reports back any user feed back, which may result in redrawing instructions from the server.

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39267031)

would kill you

Has the stupid not killed you yet?

Why? (2)

Rix (54095) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266853)

What can you do with X that you can't do with ssh?

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39267163)

What can you do with X that you can't do with ssh?

Graphics. But you want both ssh (for the secure connection) and X.

But perhaps your UID is too low for graphics. No problem, you don't *need* them.

Re:Why? (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267309)

> What can you do with X that you can't do with ssh?

Are you really that in the dark? Ssh can't do X. It can *forward* X11, but using ssh, I would have access to only a command line and text based applications. With an Android Xserver, I can display any app on my Android tablet that is running on my desktop machine, and do it efficiently (unlike vnc). I could even use XDMCP and login to a full session on a remote machine.

And later, this can open the door to porting Linux/BSD GUI applications (and window managers, etc) to Android. I think this is extremely useful and exciting.

It looks like this first attempt is too primitive to do much with, but the possibilities are there with some additional work...

Again, why? (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 2 years ago | (#39268889)

What can you accomplish with X11 that you can't do better with ssh?

If you want to run a full desktop linux stack on an android device, that's another thing (and it's been done), but why would I want to remote manage a machine over X?

Re:Again, why? (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#39269173)

I don't know why *you* would. But I have lots of useful things I do remotely with X. I have some management stuff that is much easier to do with a GUI. I can remotely even remotely run my mail client. Certainly, it is not for everyone, though (or even most people).

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39264987)

So I can launch Rhythmbox on my HTPC, display the GUI on my phone, and have a decent audio remote on my phone, just like that.

Re:Sounds funky but (3, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265167)

Quite. X is just a remote graphics framework. The app could be created with a tablet in mind. It doesn't have to be a conventional desktop app. You can treat the phone as a peripheral for your TV or or PC without dealing with the nonsense of IR transmitters.

Run any app you like. Skip the nonsense with walled gardens.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265015)

To run the most patriotic of text editors, vim. After all, we know that XEmacs is for communists. :P

Re:Sounds funky but (4, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265069)

How dare you defile vim with X11!

Re:Sounds funky but (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265237)

Why is the North Korea of text editors, the most patriotic?

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

styrotech (136124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39269491)

Have you ever seen a North Korean parade or other choreographed event? They seem to be the most ridiculous over the top displays of patriotism on the planet. North Korea is almost the very definition of extreme patriotism.

Or are you one of those that think patriotism is something that only applies to Americans?

Re:Sounds funky but (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265465)

To run the most patriotic of text editors, vim.

Bah, real vi doesn't use X ... it just requires a console.

You guys and your "almost vi" with your namby pamby file menus and clicky buttons.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265927)

... it just requires a console.

Pfst....Not if you know what you're doing. Back in my day we didn't have that fancy vt100 and we liked it.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266429)

Pfst....Not if you know what you're doing. Back in my day we didn't have that fancy vt100 and we liked it.

Maybe we're using the term "console" differently ... I guess I simply meant a command prompt. But, I guess that's probably technically incorrect.

My first year of university I had to use a line editor over a 300 baud modem ... which was remarkably not much different than a VT-52 at 1200 baud which you'd get in the labs. :-P

However, I still love to see some poor schmuck that needs Emacs with all of their add-on modes to be able to do anything. I once watched a co-worker stuck in front of an old Sun workstation who simply could not use vi, there was no emacs, and he wasn't allowed to install it.

Boy, did I laugh at him ... good times. :-P

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39269051)

there was no emacs, and he wasn't allowed to install it

Good times indeed.

Re:Sounds funky but (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265111)

Maybe we can run a Linux desktop environment. And then add some common apps that are used among many POSIX-compliant operating systems. And then get rid of all the stuff that requires Google services, and add a compiler so we can run whatever we want.

We could call this flavor of Android the Generally Normal User-environment Linux, or GNU/Linux for short.

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39265409)

I am not amused.

// RMS

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265487)

An IM client such as pidgin that I can trust to not passing my messages to some third server would be awesome. All the current Android IM options feel kind of dubious somehow, I am using Meebo because it's at least familiar-sounding and used them in the past without getting loads of spam or something. I'd love pidgin...even Finch would do.

I know libpurple has been ported, but nobody has stepped forward to write an interface to it (or an OTR plugin)

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265707)

>

I know libpurple has been ported, but nobody has stepped forward to write an interface to it (or an OTR plugin)

I've been intending to do just that for so long now, but never have the time. Alas...

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267291)

I'd love you forever.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#39269005)

Well I just interviewed for a new job doing Android / iOS development. Maybe that will give me the excuse to finally do something about Pidgin once and for all... We'll see!

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39266241)

hahaha that would be cool :D

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39265115)

Nomachine for android? This would make it possible.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

SiChemist (575005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265671)

Exactly what I was thinking. NX client for Android! I would soooooo love for that to happen.

I second that. (1)

sidragon.net (1238654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265319)

Suppose these people had devoted their time to producing something useful.

Re:I second that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39266035)

Suppose you devoted your time to posting something useful.

Re:I second that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39266991)

Collectively, we need to push out these archaic technologies. Not keep them around. It is equally useless as adding 3.5" floppy disk support to Android.

Re:I second that. (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266225)

Good point. The Walled Garden certainly needs more fart apps.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265429)

Connect your phone to an external screen, keyboard and mouse, configure XDMCP - and you've got yourself a nice X terminal.
NCD used to charge thousands of $ for them back in 199x...

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39265587)

...and I have two pizza box MCX's (along with their 21" CRT monitors...) in my storage unit somewhere... has the NCD software been kept up to date with Linux? It was a good buy from eBay way back when, if only for the monitors (1600x1200 resolution...)
At least my storage unit won't be blown off its foundation if a tornado were to hit it with those monitors in it...

Re:Sounds funky but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39267399)

Because they want to make sure that slow buggy shit is available on every possible platform.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267447)

It's actually very useful. For a long time now, it was possible to run full fledged Linux distros such as Ubuntu in a chroot inside Android (note, this also neatly works around the Xlib problem - chroot has its own userspace libraries for everything). This, in turn, lets you run things like LibreOffice on your Android tablet - particularly handy when you have a BT keyboard, or own an Asus Transformer or Lenovo Thinkpad tablet.

The catch was that you then had to use a VNC client to work with graphics apps, which is pretty slow. With this now, the experience should be much better.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39268919)

x2x. Use your phone/tablet as a remote mouse/keyboard for your workstation.

Re:Sounds funky but (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39269225)

More importantly, why are they still pushing this java crap? It should have died out long ago!

chroot (1)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264911)

You can also install a Linux of your choice in a loopback file on your phone and chroot in. You could use x11vnc for graphics before, but as you can imagine it's a bit inefficient.

Re:chroot (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267231)

I'm doing this now with my Ubuntu chroot. I usually use androidVNC to show the graphical applications but I'm messing around with this xserver. So far, for the things that work with it it is much better than using a vnc client. The only problem is there are a lot of applications that don't work. Sadly, almost nothing works.

millions of Androids suddenly cried out in terror (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39264931)

...and were suddenly silenced.

(captcha: intrude)

more like... (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264993)

Millions of androids were oblivious... ... and continued doing what they were previously doing.

It's a niche tool, but for those of us who are in that niche, it's nice to see it available.

Crap. The WORST SECURITY thing to tell people. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39264943)

Doing what the article says requires you to use "xhost +" as the magic cookie requirements will not have been met.

Second, even with the magic cookie, all transmissions to/from the X server are unencrypted - which means your magic cookie (the password to the X server) is passed in cleartext for anyone to see.

Having an X server on android is usefull, but also get ssh. That will securely route the X protocol (with encryption) from a remote (to the android display) system and with proper display.

Re:Crap. The WORST SECURITY thing to tell people. (3, Interesting)

Unknown Lamer (78415) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265157)

Well, the article implies that he hasn't implemented xhost security yet so it's kind of a moot point right now :)

Note this is not X.org, but a new implementation of an X11 server in Java. Which is pretty neat if you ask me.

Re:Crap. The WORST SECURITY thing to tell people. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266343)

Neat, but not especially hard. There have been several X11 implementations. I remember one written in Java about 10 years ago (maybe this is a port of that one?). There are several C implementations, suck as kdrive. Implementing X is not hard for the core protocol. Most of the complexity in X.org is in the drivers. Beyond that, there are all of the extensions.

Re:Crap. The WORST SECURITY thing to tell people. (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266593)

k go ahead let's see yours

Re:Crap. The WORST SECURITY thing to tell people. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266755)

Do you have an actual point, or are you still 12?

Re:Crap. The WORST SECURITY thing to tell people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39267381)

Not mine, but see here: http://www.jcraft.com/weirdx/

And not 10 years old but almost as seen here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/weirdx/files/

Re:Crap. The WORST SECURITY thing to tell people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39267475)

Actually if you look at the announce mailing list, first versions of WeirdX are more than 10 years old: http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_name=weirdx-announce&max_rows=25&style=ultimate&viewmonth=200001

SSH, I hope? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264945)

I hope that nobody would actually consider a remote X session without tunnelling over ssh...

Re:SSH, I hope? (2)

iamgnat (1015755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265931)

I miss the insecure days of trolling my co-workers with an app that made their mouse move one pixel in a random direction (was great on one guy who used hot edges to switch desktops and the mouse got stuck in the corner constantly switching desktops). Alternatively my office mate had a pop up window come up that would stay a few pixels away from their cursor. The scary part was the SA that was half through ordering replacement hardware before we came clean...

Re:SSH, I hope? (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267337)

>I hope that nobody would actually consider a remote X session without tunnelling over ssh...

It depends on your network and environment. If you are on a local, secure, wired, switched network, it doesn't matter that much if the X11 traffic is not encrypted. And without encryption, it will be much simpler, faster, and more efficient.

But yes, if you plan on doing this over WiFi or the Internet, then I would strongly recommend running it through ssh or some other encrypted transport.

Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (2, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265049)

I suppose this should be interesting, but mostly it strikes me as dumb. Mostly as a result of Google having reinvented the wheel by creating an entirely new and no more efficient or effective rendering and windowing subsystem for Android, then having the rest of the open source community chase along behind them. I suppose that's not terribly surprising, seeing as how Android was proprietary out of the gate until Google bought them.

In other news, I'll hope that my N900 holds out and that another device, probably one from Samsung running Tizen, comes along before it fails.

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (0)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265131)

ANdroid is still proprietary, unfortunately it's proprietary with apple and cisco's technology! Hence the lawsuits over stolen technology.

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39267523)

Isn't there a 2 post daily limit from jackoffs like you with "Terrible" karma? Be gone troll!

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39265227)

Baby the crap out of that usb port, but don't worry about dropping it, ever. The phone is tougher than most surfaces.

(soon to be former n900 owner)

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267711)

Baby the crap out of that usb port

Received mine in December 2009, port has suffered more heart-stopping yanks and twists than I care to count and it's held strong. Still plan on reworking the solder joints when I get a chance though. And yeah, dropped it a couple times but all that happens is dust gets knocked loose.

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265691)

If only Maemo could run on a Droid 4 I wouldn't have to worry so much about my N900...

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (2)

lucian1900 (1698922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265775)

Actually, X11 has been tried before on mobiles and was often found lacking. Android's rendering and windowing is just better than X11.

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39266059)

Works just fine on the N900, N9 or Spark though. :)

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (1)

NuShrike (561140) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267067)

Works fine on Ubuntu for Android.

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39268563)

Actually, X11 has been tried before on mobiles and was often found lacking

Really? You see, I had OpenBSD with X11 on a Zaurus a few years back and it worked very well indeed. Have you actually had any experience wiht mobile X11?

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (1)

NuShrike (561140) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267041)

Their rendering and window subsystem has already proven to be laggy and inefficient unless you throw overwhelming hardware at it. Why even continue do it in Java and on Mobile!? There's neither memory, cpu/gpu, nor battery, to feed that mess properly.

Even Windows Phone moved their rendering engine to native. Why not a proper port of Wayland (or just switch to Qt) instead?

Re:Reinveting the Wheel, Backwards (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267395)

Because Wayland has no support yet. Because millions of machines already support and use X11 applications. Because X11 works just fine.

As for running X on a "mobile"- phones are already more powerful than machines that ran X just fine a decade ago. And modern Android tablets and phones have plenty of memory and CPU to do it... even in Java.

There is absolutely nothing crazy about wanting to run X on a mobile device. Having more options is a wonderful thing. Now- I will agree that trying to do it in Java seems a bit strange and perhaps inefficient... but, if that is all that is available, you use what you have.

NX (2)

Guillermito (187510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265089)

Hopefully this will enable the implementation of the NX technology ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NX_technology [wikipedia.org] ) on Android, since using the X protocol directly over the public Internet is terribly slow.

Re:NX (2)

bgarcia (33222) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265635)

We have Chrome remote desktop [google.com] , which allows accessing other machine's desktops using any chrome browser, and we now have Chrome for Android [google.com] . I have to think that eventually these two things will work together to give remote desktop client abilities to Android phones.

Re:NX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39266121)

Can you run this through a port forwarded ssh session?

More Practical Suggestion (2)

spoonboy42 (146048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265235)

I already use my Android phone to do some light remote work. I use ConnectBot http://code.google.com/p/connectbot/ [google.com] to SSH into a remote workstation. For graphical apps, I set up port forwarding for VNC (there's a menu option for it in connectbot) and use AndroidVNC http://code.google.com/p/android-vnc-viewer/ [google.com]

I have my VNC server set to only accept connections from localhost (and it's firewalled, too), so that only connections which are forwarded and encrypted via SSH wind up being accepted. This way I get secure remote access, the VNC protocol tends to be less bandwidth-intensive than raw X, and it preserves my session in case I get disconnected.

Don't get me wrong, an X server on Android is a cool technical achievement, but existing SSH and VNC clients for Android are a more practical and secure way of accessing your workstations/servers on the go.

Re:More Practical Suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39265415)

Good call... Don't forget that VNC offers platform choices that are not available with X server.

Re:More Practical Suggestion (1)

guantamanera (751262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266405)

VNC work different than X. With VNC you have to display the whole desktop, and with the xserver you have the choice of only displaying the app you need to run. I think windows just added this feature in their windows 2008 server and call it remote app. And I love this I got old computers that can't run some programs so I just made a shorcut to just run the one app via xserver, and you can't even tell the difference since to the client it feels like a local program.

VNC vs X (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267403)

X Protocol does not use more bandwidth than VNC. If anything, the opposite is (typically) true.

However, there are more round trips when starting an application when using X Protocol as compared to VNC. Latency is the performance killer for X Protocol, not bandwidth. This means applications may/will launch faster on VNC. NX (based on dxpc) short-circuits some X protocol requests, avoiding the latency issue. Typically, NX (FreeNX) performs as well as VNC.

With the "usual" X Servers in use these days, typically the Window Manager is run locally. Also, font resources and other (eg cursor) resources are local.

This means that X Protocol is faster when the application is running. For example, text needs only send the code-point and not the bitmap. (though compression is typically used for both over a slow link -- but something like "dxpc" is aware of X11 protocol, and can compress more quickly and efficiently for that case)

Also, the "look and feel" is that of your local desktop -- using VNC means an entire desktop is being rendered over the wire, while with X11, only a single application is rendered. Using VNC means more load on the application server, because graphics are rendered and then shipped. With X11 the graphics are rendered locally. This means that the application server doesn't have to maintain a virtual display for each client. This can save 1 to 3 megabytes per client. Along with rendering time.

VNC also allows the connection to be dropped and then restarted. X11 can do this, but it requires a proxy X11 server.

VNC allows for more platforms.

Conclusion -

You are correct.

(1) VNC over SSH is a very good solution, and is preferred for many applications.

(2) If bandwidth is very limited, FreeNX may be preferred if compatible with the client and server platforms and the application.

(3) For the best "desktop experience", FreeNX or X is preferred. The application appears as if running "natively".

Re:More Practical Suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39268075)

The real advantage of this project is that you can run Ubuntu in a chroot on your phone and have it display to localhost. People are doing this right now with an X11 server configured as a VNC server and an Android VNC client, but this is an additional copy and more importantly unaccelerated. With this project, you get native hardware acceleration. That's actually pretty neat and should make a chroot on a tablet actually usable rather than a horrible laggy mess.

Nice work, but lets remember X session security (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265275)

Not sure if the author is talking about running port 6000 on a public IP but that's scary if so.

I have been waiting on this for so long (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266003)

I have been suffering with using androidVNC to do all of my x server duties on Android and it's been a long hard wrong but finally it would seem I have suffered long enought. THIS IS FUCKING AWESOOOOOOME!!!!

Re:I have been waiting on this for so long (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266619)

It would appear my enthusiasm was a bit premature. This thing needs work. It crashes on everything but the most rudimentary of applications but it does at least work. I have a feeling that there's going to be a lot of enthusiasm for this though. Great things to come.

Re:I have been waiting on this for so long (1)

mkwan (2589113) | more than 2 years ago | (#39268275)

There are two things holding back the server. (1) It doesn't ship with an ICCCM-compliant window manager, and a lot of application will abort without one. You can run one remotely, but it's tricky. (2) It doesn't support any of the X extensions. RENDER and SHAPE would be useful.

I am so happy. (2)

guantamanera (751262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266019)

Is like getting lots of free apps at once. I think lots of people don't know that you can just display the one application that you need to run a not the whole screen.

x2go next step? (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39266693)

While pure, unadulterated X11 might not be the thing you'd want to run on your phone or tablet because of the chatty network protocol, there are some X11 derivatives which can make this fly. Have a look at the x2go [x2go.org] project for an example of what I mean. Having X11 on Android means the x2go app is only a short development cycle away, and that is good news for those of us who like to move around while still needing access to something which only wants to run a gui.

As an N900 owner . . . (1)

npsimons (32752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267509)

I'd like to say, congratulations! Android has very nearly caught up with where Maemo was when it was released in 2009. Also, suck it Wayland!

Re:As an N900 owner . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39268371)

Maemo ran X back in 2005 on the Nokia 770! I used synaptic on my old 770 to install gaim (now known as pidgin). Oh and it ran flash.

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