Even since I read the chapter about X in Unix Haters handbook I still thought that X was one of the things that make unix superior to Windows, since it makes it "possible" to work on machines remotely with a graphical user interface.
But after using Windows Remote Desktop a lot, which even has fully working Unix clients, I must say that remote X feels more and more ancient.
Today I accidentally put my stationary windows machine to sleep and lost my entire working environment which was running over X with Xming and had been running since May this year. It wouldn't matter if it was Ubuntu I was running, it would be lost any way since my working environment consisting of gnome-terminal sessions and emacs sessions instantly died when the X server disappeared. Sure there is screen which can save your gnome-terminal sessions, if you can live with the Ctrl-A clash, but for X?
If my remote machine had been a Windows server I would simply reconnect my Remote Desktop Client and proceed as if nothing has happend.
Why has the Unix community allowed this fragile remote graphical environment to sustain without a proper improvement? I have googled and googled and examined VNC ant NoMachine but they seem either not doing the right thing or being commercial or being crippled in various ways.
I have recently found an awkward but superior solution in terms of performance, instead of using NX or VNC (I even tried the experimental xpra utility), I tried a totally different aproach which works like a charm:
- On the Linux host, install VirtualBox
- In VirtualBox, install WinXP (Or whatever Window XP/Vista/7 dist you like).
- In the virtual Windows machine, install Xming
- In the virtual Windows machine, enable remote desktop access.
- Restart the Virtual Machine in headless mode (VBoxManage startvm name --typ headlesss)
Using remote desktop, start Xming... enjoy, the fastest, re-attachable X-server solution I have tried so far.
Note It may be possible to run a Virtual Linux machine instead of XP and use the built in VRDP protocol in VirtualBox, I have not tried that yet. That solution would not require a Windows/Xming based solution and can be built entirely using OSS.