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Ask Slashdot: Open Source Remote Application Access?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the over-there-but-over-here dept.

GUI 113

First time accepted submitter taikedz writes "Citrix Xenapp with Receiver/Metaframe allows publishing individual applications installed on a Windows server to users on remote machines. These applications open in their own windows, along side others as if they were installed locally. I am looking to do the same at home, with free software, publishing applications from Mac, Linux, and Windows machines (and yes, I've verified the license agreements for the apps I am going to do this with!). Up until now, the only alternatives I have found are full-on remote desktop login, not seamlessly-integrated. Can you recommend any tools that can achieve the goal of remote individual application access across platforms for free or at low-cost?"

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SSH + TCP port forwarding (4, Informative)

aglider (2435074) | about a year and a half ago | (#42727939)

Read the friendly manual!

Re:SSH + TCP port forwarding (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728083)

you can even do this in windows with putty and cygwin.

in fact its pretty standard practice, and thats what many corporations use cygwin for.

https://www.google.com/search?q=putty+and+cygwin+remote+X11+windows&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&gbv=1&sei=JQQIUbfPJ4ix0QHxgoHQBA

google before you post OP. sweet fuck.

captcha : bloody

Re:SSH + TCP port forwarding (3, Informative)

julesh (229690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728765)

google before you post OP. sweet fuck.

To be fair on OP, it seems that at least some of the applications they want to run are running under Windows and/or Mac environments, for which this solution does not apply.

Virtualizing a single application's windows from a remote machine is a non-trivial task that AFAIK hasn't been implemented in open source software for either of these platforms. The closest you'll get is by virtualizing the entire OS -- VirtualBox with Windows guests (and Windows only) can do this. You'd then have to run the virtualbox virtual machine process as an X client, and use X-over-SSH forwarding as described in many existing posts to get the windows to appear on the target machine. Performance will be poor (although my one experience of citrix suggests its performance was equally bad, so maybe you can tolerate that).

Re:SSH + TCP port forwarding (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730237)

NoMachine or freenx handles this on Linux, however their new version is closed source.

I still use freenx to get a hosted web browser that ignores any limitations on local traffic.

Re:SSH + TCP port forwarding (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42733139)

Use x2go. In my experience it's much better then FreeNX - faster and easier to consider, and also without the weird "everyone shares the same SSH keys" thing (it just connects to regular system SSH accounts, and sets everything up from there).

Re:SSH + TCP port forwarding (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42734399)

I had some problems with it on openSUSE 12.2, maybe I will give it another try. Thanks.

Re:SSH + TCP port forwarding (1)

julesh (229690) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728631)

Read the friendly manual!

Given that the desktops are almost certainly running Windows, this by itself is only half of the solution. The other half is cygwin's X server with the -rootless or -multiwin command line options (the former requires you to run a native X11 window manager, the latter uses Windows' desktop window manager to provide window decorations).

Re:SSH + TCP port forwarding (1)

mattventura (1408229) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730419)

Might be a little bit more complicated than this. Some of the remote application systems I've seen allow seamless access to files on the client machine. Some of the systems don't run the app on the server, but rather on the client with some fancy encapsulation, so you don't have to worry about latency and the application can even be used offline if it's cached. The submitter wasn't very specific on how they want it to be implemented, but just keep in mind that there are many different ways of doing this and each one provides its own features. If a solution where the application is run remotely is used (like ssh+x forwarding) then you may have to figure out how to solve the issue of local file access.

You didn't mention speed or efficiency (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#42727961)

So, X11.

Re:You didn't mention speed or efficiency (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729205)

You can have either total speed/efficiency or the "burden" of separating the back-end from the front-end (you know, basic software engineering principles unheard of in the Windows world). It's a trade-off. And like making sure you don't have out-of-bounds accesses or random jumps, and that your inputs are formal languages (e.g. finite-state machines), I think it's damn worth it.

But I've only been software engineer for the last 20 years... so what do I know?

Re:You didn't mention speed or efficiency (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729493)

Feeling a bit defensive, are we, Mr. Scheifler?

Re:You didn't mention speed or efficiency (1)

fbobraga (1612783) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729619)

I've thinked in Java Web Start!

X forwarding (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42727985)

This has been a feature of X since before X11. It's even easier to use now with SSH supporting X forwarding. And if you're using it across the public internet, you can get good performance with FreeNX.

Unfortunately, this is all likely to go away if X is deprecated in favor of Wayland.

Re:X forwarding (1, Insightful)

Deltaspectre (796409) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728183)

I must be doing something wrong or GUI toolkits these days aren't designed as well for X forwarding, but anything slower than a LAN connection (and even then!) and it's painful to watch the screen update. My last attempt was last semester using Matlab off of my college's Unix servers so I wouldn't need to buy my own copy for homework and it didn't take long for me to pony up the $100.

Re:X forwarding (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728253)

Whoops, I replied to the wrong comment. I'm going to have to look into FreeNX in the future.

Re:X forwarding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728415)

Why would you use matlab through X11? Just SSH in and start it up with matlab -nodesktop. The matlab GUI is junk anyway.

Re:X forwarding (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728987)

Does Matlab display graphs? That would be a good use for forwarding. I use R under X-forwarding like this all the time.

Re:X forwarding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728843)

There is a compression flag that will boost your speed significantly.

Re:X forwarding (1)

spike hay (534165) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729229)

Freenx [berlios.de] is a great solution for less shitty X11 forwarding. It compresses and caches stuff and doesn't need nearly as much bandwidth.

Re:X forwarding (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729361)

I must be doing something wrong or GUI toolkits these days aren't designed as well for X forwarding

Quite frequently. Many of the problems which modern replacements of venerable older parts of GNU/Linux are being designed to solve are caused not by bad tools but by people who don't know how to use them.

They would, of course rather nuke the entire system and rebuild from scratch than learn the old tools. This means that the new systems frequently repeat ancient mistakes and corner case bugs that were hammered out in the "legacy" "deprecated" tools.

My last attempt was last semester using Matlab off of my college's Unix servers so I wouldn't need to buy my own copy for homework and it didn't take long for me to pony up the $100.

Odd: MATLAB actually used to be VERY good at that. The "new" bloatui is probably responsible. Try running it from a terminal but with -nodesktop (or if you are feeling brave -nojvm).

Re:X forwarding (2)

jgrahn (181062) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730935)

I must be doing something wrong or GUI toolkits these days aren't designed as well for X forwarding

Quite frequently. Many of the problems which modern replacements of venerable older parts of GNU/Linux are being designed to solve are caused not by bad tools but by people who don't know how to use them.

X11 is neither GNU nor Linux; it began as another lump of free software ... but apart from that, +1.

Back in the 1990s, it was understood that X11 programming had an network efficiency aspect. For example, forcing a network roundtrip for some common user-level operation was considered bad, because N*x milliseconds can easily become a long time.

Re:X forwarding (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729817)

actually, this is a serious issue, and I am not sure the cause, likely its morre than one.

I can think of a couple of apps recently where I had serious issues. The first was "virt-manager" which is, biog shock, a gui virtual machine manager. I don't usually use it myself, but i was building a VM Host for a friend with a small web design firm who was passing files around the office on USB sticks! I found I could run it fine locally, or over the LAN, but, over an SSH connection? Slow to the point of unusable.

Second one was....filezilla of all things. I was at work and needed to test an external service. So I ssh into my home box, and fire up filezilla from there. I ended up packing up and driving home to do the test, it was THAT slow.

All that said, I think there is something pathalogical about those cases (and the second one was, itself pretty convoluted... ssh to one host, with a ProxyCommand using nc to connect to another.... don't judge me.... :) )

Another issue with X11 is sudo with Xauth can be tricky if you need to run as another user. Turns out its not hard, you just have to set $HOME to the effective user's home directory (most sudo configs preserve $HOME so your dotfiles work) and then run xauth add and pass it the output of xauth list (as the original user).

Re:X forwarding (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730275)

My home server runs OpenSuse and FreeNX. i access it across the internet all the time. They even have a java client that allows you to access it from PC's that don't have the client installed. No support for Android yet...

Re:X forwarding (1)

unrtst (777550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42732035)

I can think of a couple of apps recently where I had serious issues. The first was "virt-manager"...

Just a guess, cause I'm running virtualbox instead of virt-manager, but does it display a thumbnail of the vm's state? If so, that'd likely explain it, because it's essentially doubling the rdp/x11 traffic.

Second one was....filezilla of all things. I was at work and needed to test an external service. So I ssh into my home box, and fire up filezilla from there. I ended up packing up and driving home to do the test, it was THAT slow.

First, the upload speed on cable (typical home access) is often horrible. That'll probably hit bandwidth constraints right there with most apps (partially because most apps these days use bitmapped graphics for drawing all their ui elements, as opposed to something like mwm or xwm and apps using the x11 toolkit).

Second, since you fired up filezilla from home, I'm guessing you may have been using it to do other ftp type operations. If that was another upload, that'll completely choke off your upload bandwidth, and your x11 session will suffer. Put some QoS on your home link, giving ssh highest priority, and it might help.... but QoS also costs some bandwidth (you have to set a maximum rateup that is less than your absolute max in order for it to work well).

All that said, I've seen similar things quite often, and newer UI toolkits and applications seem to be consistently worse than their elder counterparts.

On top of it all, the ssh tunnel itself will add some lag. Might be worth risking a direct connect sans tunnel.

Re:X forwarding (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42733013)

SSH is ridiculously slow for things that aren't text sessions (and the amount of advice which is "do your backup over SSH" is staggering considering this).

Over any reasonably fast link you need to be running the HPN-SSH patchset to get performance above 2 mb/s in my experience. The MT-AES cipher also helps (though breaks if your application forks, though I've found very few cases where this is a problem currently in practice).

Re:X forwarding (1)

SuperQ (431) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730265)

X has never forwarded well over anything but LAN. Back in the '90s I did remote X forwarding to sun/sgi machines to be able to run some stuff on my linux while in school. Of course the only non-lan back then was modems.

Re:X forwarding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42731505)

Sure, my fiber to home is faster than most LANs 10 years ago and much cheaper, too. But back then 1024x786 and 16 bpc was decent. Nowadays unless you're one of the unfortunate laptoptosis sufferers you actually have something human friendly like merely 1920x1080 which at 32 bpc and only 24 fps will max out 1 Gbps LAN. Oh, and it seems like the next generation HD should start rolling out in some years effectively quadrupling pixel count over the 1080p standard. 5 Gbps will then be the lowest speed and that's for 24 fps, if you tried watching some 48 fps video at that resolution, 10 Gbps would be the lower estimate. And that's the raw data rate, now accont for the X11 overhead which is there to make sure nothing runs fast. And people make jokes how Windows exists to make any computer slow, sheesh.

Re:X forwarding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42732309)

Incorrect. X11 forwards well, in my experience, over any symetrical (speed/latency) connection. It worked well (albeit slowly) over 2-channel ISDN in the mid 90's. I now use a 15Mb/1.5Mb Comcast cable connection and it's unusable unless you're really patient and know what all of the keyboard shortcuts are so you don't end up having to play 'where-is-the-mouse-now'.

Re:X forwarding (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728633)

And for mac and windows apps I've had some luck with virtualbox displaying over Xwindows.
Yes I know he wanted app level not full on remote desktop, but you can visually simulate that into being apparently identical without much effort, at least for windows stuff. Ends justify the means and all that.
VNC into a windows desktop on virtualbox works pretty well too.

Re:X forwarding ... is useless (0)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729549)

X is completely useless over anything more than a local network. Between South America and Europe, the only viable approach I've found is to run an Xvnc session remotely and then VNC to that. This is more or less what is proposed for remote Wayland, so we lose absolutely nothing by switching from X to Wayland (once all the necessary parts are implemented). Not sure where this unrealistic pro-X anti-Wayland FUD comes from. Nostalgia for dying 80s era technologies?

Re:X forwarding ... is useless (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730003)

Use VNC?

That's funny.

VNC is a pig even on a LAN.

Caching and compression with X is much more effective.

While X haters were busy repeating 20 year old arguments, the rest of the world caught up with Unix. Now if you gut remote desktop access, you will just be making Linux look like it's 20 years behind.

You've got to bake this stuff in. You can't just ignore it. There's really no way around it. Otherwise you end up with stuff like what Mac users are stuck with.

Re:X forwarding ... is useless (1)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42731859)

<<VNC is a pig even on a LAN.>> That's weird because it works fine for me quarter-way around the world with a 200ms RTT. I'm not trying to watch YouTube, though. Maybe we have different expectations. VNC works well enough at this distance to let me do what I need to do, whereas X fails completely. I would sing X's praises if it actually performed. FreeNX maybe works, if I could find packages, although it seems pretty much abandoned on Debian. Even the x2go stuff doesn't have a server available. How long is it going to take for someone to knock up a VNC server for Wayland? Not very long at all. It is an easy and fun student vacation project. How long before someone gets tempted to do something a bit more optimised? They could be the first, and set the standard. Glory and power, irresistible. I think there is no need to worry about Wayland having no remote access.

got to disagree, VNC beats X (2)

Chirs (87576) | about a year and a half ago | (#42732685)

Maybe if you have brand new applications written properly then X is okay. However, I have old legacy apps that require many round-trips between the X client and server to do the simplest things. For a cross-country link with 60ms ping it is *FAR* faster to use VNC than to use X.

Re:X forwarding ... is useless (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730701)

Have you tried FreeNX?

Re:X forwarding ... is useless (1)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42731179)

<<Have you tried FreeNX?>> No, I haven't. I'm just trying to figure it out right now. If it is comparable to my VNC session (i.e. I get responses back in a time roughly comparable to the RTT) then I'll switch.

Re:X forwarding ... is useless (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42733065)

X is completely useless over anything more than a local network. Between South America and Europe, the only viable approach I've found is to run an Xvnc session remotely and then VNC to that. This is more or less what is proposed for remote Wayland, so we lose absolutely nothing by switching from X to Wayland (once all the necessary parts are implemented). Not sure where this unrealistic pro-X anti-Wayland FUD comes from. Nostalgia for dying 80s era technologies?

Experience with VNC. Slinging pixels sounds like a horrible idea if you've ever used VNC. Of course the issue is VNC is just slow, since obviously if I can stream 1080p from YouTube my quad core i7 should be capable of doing something similar with it's desktop output.

That said, it does seem like a missed opportunity in Wayland not to let applications pass some type of sub-information about drawable window space up to the compositor for this purpose - Wayland deals with them as flat buffers, there's no protocol way to send any information about the internal layout (i.e. it'd be great to be able to declare some sub-regions, and inform whichever remote end to restore cached information about them).

"Open Source" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728009)

So, really you just mean "free of charge" and you couldn't care less about the "open source" bits.

Two easy solutions (5, Informative)

Burning1 (204959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728017)

First, if you haven't already read up on Xwindows networking model, you really should. X natively supports what you're requesting, and has for decades. In most cases, it's as trivial as opening a ssh connection to the remote machine, using the -X flag. E.g. 'ssh -X remotehost'

If you need to support Windows applications, you can use RDP in seamless mode. Newer RDP clients for windows support this natively, with a little configuration work. There is some support in the linux RDP client, but when I tried it about a year ago, it required a special helper application to work. Be aware that RDP is no where near as fast as Citrix.

Finally, if you simply want Windows applications to seamlessly integrate with a linux desktop or visa versa, VMWare player/workstation supports a seamless virtualization mode. It would not surprise me if KVM or Xen have a comparable feature, but I haven't played with them on the desktop long enough to know.

Re:Two easy solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729725)

VirtualBox does.

Re:Two easy solutions (1)

myxiplx (906307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730947)

VirtualBox also has a seamless mode and is both free and open source, well worth a look.

Re:Two easy solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42734781)

Was there ever a time when X didn't do this? thought it was born as a network protocol.

The truth about remote access (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728029)

I remotely accessed your moms ass last nite

Re:The truth about remote access (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728199)

My mom was at work last night. You must have cornholed my dad.

Oh yeah! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728119)

First!

xpra (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728287)

for publishing from X, take a look at xpra
it works very well

NanoX (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728309)

NanoX makes X usable even over slow links. There is a free version. It is quite a joy to use and is superior to RDP/VNC implementations.

free and commercial options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728347)

True linux supports x forwarding but for a true seamless experience I would suggest freenx or the actual commercial version of nxserver for speed and power.
They are also working on ports for mac and windows (server versions) you could ask to be a beta tester for this. Apple has a remote desktop client of its own and nativly supports vnc if you go to your sharing tab under system preferences there is an option there to share your screen. As far as using vnc with Mac though different clients respond differently. Ive found some vnc clients work with the mac port of vnc wonderfully while others are dog slow. There are a ton of commercial options for all 3 platforms as well a little google research will pay dividends

CORRECTION - "NX" (2)

scorp1us (235526) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728393)

http://www.nomachine.com/ [nomachine.com]
I'm sorry, my mind pulled the server, not the client side of the question.

The NoMachine server/client is amazingly fast.

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (2)

HappyHead (11389) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728703)

Also of note - the server runs only on Linux/Unix, however as asked in the original post, NX Server will allow you to run just a single application at once, and with careful setup (ie: virtualGL), you can even run very graphics-card intensive applications on the server, accessing the server's graphics hardware for GL, and send that rendered application to the client. It's free for limited personal/educational use, and requires a license for large-scale access.

It supports awesome features like restoring sessions - since the session runs on the server, if you are disconnected by a network hiccup, you can re-connect, and your program will still be running uninterrupted.

There are also several projects in progress to attempt to make an open source version, since the protocols themselves are open sourced and freely available. Sadly, I haven't seen any of them that are actually fully completed and working for all of the aspects that my work uses NX for, so we haven't been able to use any of them. Several of those projects look like they were abandoned years ago, though.

Google's NeatX [google.com] project is one of the most complete that I've seen, and I don't see any development on it since 2009...

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730315)

I use FreeNX and get better results then the free version of NoMachine's server.

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42732155)

http://www.x2go.org/

x2go beats the pants off of NeatX for remote desktop capabilities
ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1493336

Try it, love it

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728799)

I would disagree, even on a decent broadband connection freenx/nomachine is nowhere near as fast and RDP or Citrix. There is NO remote access solution which in any way has the features or speed of Citrix and RDP. VNC is pointless over WAN as is X forwarding. I can build a Linux with NX and Windows with RDP instances on AWS EC2 in Dublin connecting from South Africa (170ms round trip) and the linux machine does not even compare to the speed of RDP. RDP is like being on the same LAN, freenx is like being 300ms away.

it pains me to say, as I always root for OSS, but unfortunately in my extensive experience with all of the above solutions I have yet to find an acceptable remote desktop solution which is cheaper that Windows RDP.

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (1)

HappyHead (11389) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729867)

RDP is like being on the same LAN, freenx is like being 300ms away

Rather than freenx, which was never actually completed, try out NoMachine's nx server - I've done comparisons between them for work, and it is faster, as well as having more working features.

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42730135)

Rather than freenx, which was never actually completed, try out NoMachine's nx server - I've done comparisons between them for work, and it is faster, as well as having more working features.

Did your comparisons include X2Go as well?
http://www.x2go.org/ [x2go.org]

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42734859)

Put the crackpipe down. freenx/nomachine stomps RDP in the ground in speed and latency.

Re:CORRECTION - "NX" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42733941)

If it were Linux machines by themselves, I'd suggest something along those lines- but since NX is proprietary from start to finsh these days, it's an also-ran.

X2Go [x2go.org] is the FOSS solution stemming from the last FOSS release of the NX protocol- and it has clients for Windows, OSX, and Linux and is currently being maintained. I've switched my servers over to it with NoMachine making the decision they did.

X2GO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728483)

Please take a look at X2GO, I use it and it's very stable, it supports audio forwarding and file sharing. Although I am experiencing some keyboard issues for some key modifiers (making vim/emacs unusable for me).

Re:X2GO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42730037)

Please take a look at X2GO, I use it and it's very stable, it supports audio forwarding and file sharing. Although I am experiencing some keyboard issues for some key modifiers (making vim/emacs unusable for me).

Please report these issues on the x2go-dev mailing list, so that they can be taken care of.

Re:X2GO (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730357)

I spent afew days last month playing around with my home server which has been using freenx. I tried x2go and the beta version of No Machines server, as well as the old version. Nothing worked properly. I was able to get freeNX working properly. Admittedly this appears to be an OpenSUSE 12.2 issue, but I was able to find references to help me for freeNX and nothing was forthcoming for the other two.

It's built-in (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728517)

Windows Server 2008 has fairly well-rounded support for seamless application sharing, it's very similar to Citrix Xenapp but not as full-featured. 2008 R2 expanded this even further. Read up on Remote Desktop Services, you may find everything you need is already built-in.

Re:It's built-in (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730591)

Hardly "for free or aqt low cost" though is it?

OSS citrix replacement (2)

zerointeger (1587877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728595)

http://www.ulteo.com/home/ [ulteo.com] is a simple drop in replacement for citrix.

X11 is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728689)

on mac client launch x11

on linux server
~#export DISPLAY=*YOURIP:0*
~#firefox &

done

2x (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42728871)

For Windows Server apps to Mac/Windows/iPhone/iPad/Blackberry clients. Allows application and/or desktop publishing. Very similar to Citrix. Unfortunatly it will not provide for publishing apps FROM Mac or Linux.

WinSwitch (2)

ninjackn (1424235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728879)

For home use I recommend Window Switch. [winswitch.org] You could roll your own DIY solution with a combination of xpra, X11, vnc, rdesktop, ssh and so on but WinSwitch already does all that for you.

"Nomachine" (nxclient) (1)

TheSimkin (639033) | about a year and a half ago | (#42728953)

No machine's nx server/client does exactly what you want. http://nomachine.com/ [nomachine.com]

VNC (1)

aoteoroa (596031) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729043)

It's been years since I used it but the free version used to work on both Linux and Windows. The website says it works on Mac ,Solaris, and HP. http://www.realvnc.com/ [realvnc.com]

Guacamole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729055)

If you can install a Tomcat server then you can stand up Guacamole. It provided RDP and VNC access to client systems through a web browser without plugins and can even provide audio output from a win7 desktop.

Having done that a few times... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729057)

Option 1. (if your software is linux-native or runs stable under wine, needs no fancy gfx)
xrdp + wine - a remote desktop solution, integrates well, authenticates well
rdesktop can haz a seamless mode, preferred corporate solution
can be tunneled via ssh or vpn to add security
ubuntuwiki/xrdp [ubuntuwiki.net]

Option 2. (if your software is linux-native or runs stable under wine, needs no fancy gfx)
ssh -X remotemachine "wine remoteapp"
to integrate: ActiveDirectoryAuthentication [ubuntu.com]

Option 3. (if your app only runs only on windows, you live in a reverse engineering friendly country)
(was?) LEGAL only in some countrys i.e. germany, sweden, ...
have a (possibly virtualized) xp/win7 box running your apps, modded with:
a. Seamless RDP hack (xp only afaik)
- SeamlessRDP [wordpress.com]
- Ubuntu/SeamlessVirtualization [ubuntu.com]
b. Enable Multiple Concurrent RDP Connections [mydigitallife.info]
a bit hacky but it works, rly :> I've done this in small corporate environments, but usually in such situations you either have to choose between investing in making your apps run under wine, or pay m$ or a commercial opponent for their work.

Finally you could have a look at TinyCore [ibiblio.org] as a nice toolbox to mend it all together.

anx XMPP ulzq de

mod d0wN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729105)

Here's a new idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729121)

They call it X11. Man, you people are stupid.

Windows Application license time-sharing? (2)

Richard_J_N (631241) | about a year and a half ago | (#42729735)

What I'd like to know is whether we can have a way to time-share Windows applications. Consider an office of 100 people. At the moment, they all of MS Office installed, just in case they get an attachment that LibreOffice can't handle. That's 100 copies of the MSO license.

We'd like to move them to Linux, and LO, but still need that MSO capability just occasionally. So the obvious way is to set up 100 free desktops, and put 5 Windows+MSO machines in the corner, people can then walk over, queue up, and use the MSO machines if they really must. Result: only pay MS for 5 licenses, and start escaping lock-in.

But that's really ugly. Is there any elegant way to do this seamlessly for the end user, with VNC or similar? We need to ensure that 100 people can all (potentially) access MSO in their own environmnent (own PC, own view of the fileshare, if possible, own preferences), but with some sort of queuing system that shares out the access.

I'm aware of the ugliness if 6 people need MSO at the same time, and that this might not work well for video, or advanced powerpoint. But otherwise, how might it be done? (And given that MS might not *like* it, how do we stay legally covered. IMHO, this is perfectly fair, because MSO is only ever installed on 5 PCs, and only ever used by 5 people at a time).

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (1)

stefpe (256175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730149)

I'm not sure you can do this legally.
That is, the 5 PCs in the corner should be ok. But according to this blog post (which, granted, is over 5 years old,) RDP / VNC is not:
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/mssmallbiz/archive/2007/08/08/4298215.aspx [msdn.com]

Quote: "Terminal Services does not change the number of devices accessing and using a software application, it merely provides another avenue to access the software through. So licensing Microsoft Office doesn't change at all regardless if Terminal Services is used or not. You still need one license per device accessing and using the Microsoft Office application."

I guess if you came up with some way of limiting concurrent access to 5 users at a time, then *technically* you might not violate the license since you'd only have 5 devices using it at any given time. You'd still have 100 total devices though, which I'm sure MS' lawyers would jump on..

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | about a year and a half ago | (#42732789)

This is the question. What I'm trying to do is arrange the "5 MS machines in a corner, walk over there and take your turn" approach, but without the walking. The company would generally have zero users making use of MSO; it just needs to know that all 100 of them could, if they had to, have occasional access. The Windows machine could be a single-user box, running a single shared "public" account.

Otherwise, what would it take to have a system that could script MS Office, to provide, say, a web-service that could take in an awkward powerpoint, and spit out a PDF, in a compatible way?

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42730273)

1) Buy/install windows server.
2) Buy/install remote desktop CALs, in this case 5.
3) Buy/install software on server, in this case MSO.
4) From Linux use ts-client (which will use rdesktop) or XFreeRDP (which will use freerdp).

The existing infrastructure will handle the 6 user problem (e.g. cannot use it until someone else logs out). Administrators can force sessions to close (in case someone forgets to logout or is otherwise hogging it).

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (1)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730699)

2) Buy/install remote desktop CALs, in this case 5.

Remote desktop CALs are not concurrent user, you must license all devices using it (and no tricks if you want to stay legal). So if you have 100 PCs accessing it from time to time, you need 100 licenses. These same users mus also have an Office license, but as they already have Office, they can get away with using the version/licenses they own.

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42734317)

2) Buy/install remote desktop CALs, in this case 5.

Remote desktop CALs are not concurrent user, you must license all devices using it (and no tricks if you want to stay legal). So if you have 100 PCs accessing it from time to time, you need 100 licenses. These same users mus also have an Office license, but as they already have Office, they can get away with using the version/licenses they own.

Setup five linux machines in a closet "A" with office. Setup 5 other machines next to them "B" without office.

100 users can connect to the 5 "B" machines at will via remote. Those 5 B machines can each map to one of the A machines with Office, using remote from B and wine on A. That's what MS did to Novell when Netware roamed the Earth, with Dinosaurs - turnabout is fair play.

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730791)

Keep in mind that MSO 2010 (I haven't looked at other versions), will refuse to run on a Windows Server if Remote Desktop Services is active, unless MSO is volume licensed. Best I could determine, this means you're getting a minimum of MSO Pro Plus at $500/user. Still a bargain compared to 100 individual licenses I suppose.

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42731139)

Last time I checked, retail licenses of Office did not permit use under remote desktop. You have to have Open Volume / etc for remote usage rights. This is another reason why OV licenses are so much more expensive than retail (have fun explaining it to the execs).

Re:Windows Application license time-sharing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42731201)

Windows Server's Terminal Services / Remote Desktop Services will need 100 per device or per user TS/RDS CALs which is expensive. And if accessed from Linux you might (not sure) also need 100 standard CALs in addition to the TS/RDS CALs. Also your current Office licenses might not allow installation on Terminal Services (depending on the Office version and licensing you have).

Instead of having 5 machines take up space in the corner, virtualizing 5 Windows XP/7 machines with Office on a single computer then providing access to it remotely could be legally feasible if you're using your current version of office for which you already have the 100 licenses. But i'm not aware of software that would automatically connect you to a "free" session, let along queue you up if they are all in use.

Have you considered Office 365? Seems expensive to me.

What about making your currently licensed version of office available on each Linux workstation through Wine? Or even, just make the Office Viewers available?

Viewers are free... also Office Web Apps (1)

charnov (183495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42732843)

The viewers for all Office components are free downloads. You could also set up Office Web Apps server (also free if you have a Software Assurance agreement) which will integrate itself into your Exchange 2013 environment to view all Office documents in Outlook's preview pane.

Or... you could get a few subscriptions to Office 365 for $8 a month per user if the usage is infrequent...

Re:Viewers are free... also Office Web Apps (1)

Richard_J_N (631241) | about a year and a half ago | (#42732941)

Interesting point about the Office 365. The problem with the MS viewers is that they can't save the document in a non MS-format. And LibreOffice can't perfectly import the more awkward bits of MS documents.

Winconn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729739)

This sounds like exactly what you're looking for:

http://stanev.org/winconn/

ulteo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729843)

Look at ulteo.com it does it (by the creator of mandrake) but I've not tested it

Re:ulteo (1)

zerointeger (1587877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730597)

I recently implemented this at the University I work for. It is a robust replacement for citrix. If your only using Linux based apps it is free (as in beer). If you require windows applications, multiple terminal servers (along with the cost of licensing) may be implemented to act as a pool of application servers available to the clients. The only real drawbacks we have found is legacy software which upon installation decides its ok to use old 32bit code as well as newer 64bit code bases. Windows separates the two components into the C:\Program Files & C:\Program Files (x86) folders which causes the Windows application server available for Ulteo-OVD to get confused due to path problems for that particular piece of software. The other is trying to use anything with OpenGL or DirectX. There went my game server. Other than that we have a production environment which has been in place for about a year now.

Try X2Go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729951)

If you're looking for a Linux host, with client software available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux, try X2Go. It's similar to NoMachine's NX (and in fact uses parts of their open-sourced components), but truly free as in speech for both server and client, not just free as in beer like the NX clients. (BTW, NoMachine is going closed-source with their upcoming release).

Disclaimer: I am not just a happy and satisfied user, but also the paying sponsor behind X2Go's individual application publishing mode.

X2Go URL: http://www.x2go.org/ [x2go.org]

VNC + App - Window Manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42729983)

Set up VNC sessions with the application running, but no window manager.

Tarantella? (1)

hduff (570443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730417)

I know it's not free, but didn't SCO Taratella do this? It's now Propalms TSE, but it looks like it only provides a Windows server and multi-platform clients. Sad if so.

Wikipedia (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42730519)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_remote_desktop_software#Operating_system_support [wikipedia.org]

NX has already been mentioned, but giving more details. Personally, I do think that Linux needs a good, fully GNU, non-MS-tied graphical RDP client/server (especially for businesses trying to go completely Linux). However, I think NoMachine/NX is probably what you're looking for based on the question. Also, as already mentioned, you can use VNC or X11 forward calls to your machine or even use xrdp on server with rdesktop client -- but NX will be faster than all of these from my rough testing in the past. I personally just always use SSH as I've never found a need for a graphical client, but I know a lot of people that do want/need this.

Server:
In your package manager, just search for "freenx" and install.
sudo nxsetup --install
sudo service freenx-server start
sudo chkconfig freenx-server on
It uses SSH as the backend which should already be up and running.
You may need to open up the port (22) in your firewall.

Client:Install from website and run /usr/NX/bin/nxclient.

For added security, I suggest changing the port:
sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config # Change PORT line
sudo semanage port -a -t ssh_port_t -p tcp <port> # For SELinux
Edit firewall appropriately.
sudo service sshd restart
sudo vi /etc/nxserver/node.conf # Change SSHD_PORT
sudo service freenx-server restart

winswitch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42730763)

How about this one: http://winswitch.org/
greets,
patrick@.be

Ulteo? (1)

Keruo (771880) | about a year and a half ago | (#42731517)

I haven't tried it myself, but stumbled on it few years ago.
Ulteo (download links) [ulteo.com] should provide you with seamless application integration regardless of the platform.
Downside: the webclient is java based

XRDP - open source RDP server implementation (1)

ghomem (1452521) | about a year and a half ago | (#42732647)

Try XRDP. It doesn't have all the features MS RDP has but the features it has work well. You can use different rdp clients like mstsc, rdesktop, freerdp and thin clients. http://www.xrdp.org/ [xrdp.org]

Re:XRDP - open source RDP server implementation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42733895)

The problem with XRDP is that it pegs the CPU at nearly 100%. We installed it on nine servers as a test. You can see on our MRTG graphs where both the power usage and temperature in the data center(aka nice equipment closet) spiked and stayed high when they were started. It worked OK, but we had to stop the experiment because it was August, and we didn't have enough spare AC capacity to handle how poorly written XRDP is. Even before anyone had started using it, it was still hammering the CPU.

Re:XRDP - open source RDP server implementation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42734939)

....aaaand....then you stopped lying

RemoteApp (2)

Arricc (75463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42732827)

A little known add on for Windows clients: RemoteApp for Hyper-V. It allows Windows clients (XP+) to be used as seamless application hosts for RDP clients.

http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/gabeknuth/archive/2010/01/06/RemoteApp-for-Hyper_2D00_V-_2D00_-Microsoft_2700_s-single_2D00_user-app-solution.aspx [brianmadden.com]

Caveat: does not require Hyper-V

regardless, make it fast by fewer colors (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42733025)

No matter what protocol you choose, the right color palette can make it MUCH faster. most business applications look fine with 256 colors. modern desktops typically use millions of colors. 256 colors is SO much more responsive than 16 million.

Similar to Parallels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42734847)

This won't exactly solve your problem, but it's sort of similar. Parallels, a virtual machine that runs on OSX, has a "Coherence" mode when virtualizing a Windows computer. In this mode, you don't see the full Windows desktop inside a native window, but just the individual windows of the Windows applications you're running. I think you can even set an option to display them with OSX decorators so it's less visually jarring. As far as I know, there's not a networked version of this, but it may be a starting point.

x2go works fine for Linux-world (1)

knarf (34928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42735289)

To publish Linux-based programs (and Windows-based ones which run fine on Wine) you might want to have a look at x2go [x2go.org] , a project based on NX. I've used it for a few years without problems over all sorts of networks. Clients are available for 'the big three' (Linux, Windows, OSX), the server runs on Linux. Performance is good over a wide range of networks, all the way down to GPRS/dial-up.

Seamless + opensource, only two options: NX, Xpra (1)

tota (139982) | about a year and a half ago | (#42735377)

  • * NX is now closed source (v4 onwards) and the old branch (v3) is no longer maintained.
  • * Xpra [xpra.org] absolutely kills everything else in terms of performance and features.

If you need a GUI on top of that (not sure you really do):

  • * Xpra has a limited GUI session launcher (but only for connecting to existing sessions at the moment)
  • * NX has a number of management tools - beware, most of them are abandoned or buggy and insecure..
  • * winswitch [winswitch.org] handles both and more (VNC, RDP, ssh -X, ...)

Disclaimer: Xpra and winswitch maintainer.
You did do a google search first, right? Did you miss this answer? [serverfault.com]
AFAICT, most of the other posts talk about virtualizing and other irrelevant topics.

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