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I'm looking to set up a lab for 100+ users. We will be running linux servers (RHEL), but all the lab machines are old Windows boxes. Each user, from the Windows box, needs to log on to the Linux server (gnome desktop) and then access a browser only (ideally, Firefox). The user has to be authenticated before logging on to the Linux box. The user is not tech savvy, and VNC doesn't seem like a good solution. I'm looking for some sort of Windows client that can access the x session. Since the user it not tech savvy, I doubt they will be able to launch firefox alone via "ssh -X", unless we develop some client-side tool. Am curious as to what options exist for a simplified Windows-based remote access client that can still require each user to authenticate on the server (default Linux login screen is fine too) (which will be integrated with LDAP/AD). I'm currently looking into NoMachine. Cygwin seemed to be too complex to use, but I haven't looked at that.

The ideal experience will be a windows client that comes up, and then connects to a remote session, where the user is prompted for their login creds.

Thanks in advance!

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Is there some reason why you are keep Windows around? Why not go full LTSP? –  Zoredache Aug 2 '12 at 19:36
    
In what way does NoMachine not fill your needs? –  mattdm Aug 2 '12 at 19:36
    
Thanks, @Zoredache. Unfortunately, the users have cr*p on their desktops, so those machines have to stay. –  AaCc Aug 2 '12 at 19:44
    
@mattdm, Thanks. I have not looked hard at NoMachine. Am looking at FOSS apps, ideally, so am looking at FreeNX too. Was wondering if that is the best solution out there, or if there are other options too. Any thoughts on the usability of NoMachine? –  AaCc Aug 2 '12 at 19:45
    
possible duplicate of GUI based remote sessions for end users –  Mike Pennington Aug 2 '12 at 20:52
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closed as off topic by EEAA, MDMarra, Zoredache, Mike Pennington, HopelessN00b Aug 2 '12 at 21:48

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5 Answers

I'd recommend NoMachine, either under the free user limit, or as the commercial product. Pass-through auth with ssh keys is available, the product is solid and it has the benefit of working seamlessly withe multiple monitors on the client. Plus, it's fast and responsive. Try it on a small scale and see if it works well enough.

http://www.nomachine.com/

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This is kind of a shopping question, but here we go. What's wrong with a commercial X Window client for the Windows machines?

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Thanks. Definitely a viable option. Not sure of the options here (realizing that this is definitely a 'shopping' question now!). What are good FOSS options here? –  AaCc Aug 2 '12 at 19:57
    
Also, trying to see how these will stack up against FreeNX or the sorts. So, what is the best option for many remote users, with, possibly high latency connections. –  AaCc Aug 2 '12 at 20:01
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You could easily go with Linux Terminal Server Project. With a little of work you can provide full Linux desktop on old boxes with the speed of the server each. Although it may not be an option if you need to use some Windows programs in the same time.

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I haven't seen it mentioned, so I'll mention it - you can install any number of RDP servers/services on Linux, (such as xrdp, which I'm used to) and use the native Windows Terminal Services Client to connect to your Linux machines.

Since you can even set up .rdp shortcuts on Windows with settings and credentials saved, you can practically idiot-proof it for your users.

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As it is now a shopping question, you'll get a shopping answer ;)

I had to use exceed like 5 years ago and it was fine. Maybe it even has improved since then.

But as I dislike proprietary software and don't work for exceed company, I'll advise you to have a look at synergy and see if it meets your needs.

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Excellent - thanks. I will take a look at that. Some folks have suggested VDI solutions here, but that seems like overkill. –  AaCc Aug 2 '12 at 20:26
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