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Caching proxy server system lightens up X

Sep 25, 2003 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 13 views is working on software it hopes will enable remote computer use from embedded devices with slow Internet connections such as GSM modems. The company claims its NX software compresses the X protocol by 50 times, making graphical applications usable over connections as slow as a 9.6Kbps modem. The company is reaching out to the open source software community to help improve its technology further.

NX places a caching proxy server on either side of X's client-server architecture, reducing network traffic to differential transfers of whatever is not already cached. The company says programmers rarely optimize X applications for low throughput on the X client-server interface, resulting in many needless “round-trip” data transfers that NX can largely eliminate.

Nomachine offers trial downloads of its nxclient software for the Sharp Zaurus and Compaq/HP iPaq, as well as Linux, Mac, Windows, Solaris, Playstation/2, and XBox clients. Trial versions of its commercial server platforms are also available for “any UNIX,” along with a “test drive” system running Red Hat 8.0.

NX architecture diagram (click for larger view)

Some additional capabilities of NX include:

  • support for ssh encryption
  • uses standard ssh port 22 by default
  • support for UNIX, Windows, or VNC desktops
  • file, printer sharing (requires local samba server)
  • single application or whole desktop mode
  • cache persists between sessions

Open invitation

The core components of NX, including the X compression libraries, are available under the GPL, and Nomachine has publicly offered to help interested open source programmers develop a complete free implementation.

Nomachine says that several things remain lacking in NX, and it hopes to add the following:

  • X session persistence and reconnection
  • better support of RENDER extension
  • better support for X applications in seamless mode
  • better SMB file and printer sharing support
  • seamless access to client's peripherals
  • new multimedia architecture with native streaming

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