My virtual Desktop Experiance Using NoMachines NX Client Application
A few days ago I was asking around about Linux Mint and Scott Dowdle offered to create a virtual desktop of Linux Mint 10 using NoMachine’s NX software. In return I was to post about my experience. That is what I am attempting to do now.
I can only write about the client side experience since Scott handled the server side. At the time of my testing, I did not have a Linux install so I used the Windows NX client software. I ran the tests on a Dell XPS M1530 laptop with 2 Gigs of RAM, and a 2+ GHz dual core 2 processor running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit edition.
At a later time I installed Linux Mint 10 locally and attempted to install the NX client but the download page was down. Prior to posting this, I was finally able to install the client software on my Linux install and currently using the Linux NX client to edit this post prior to officially posting it.
Installing the NX client software was pretty straight forward, download and install. Setting up the connection was equally easy for me. All I needed from Scott was the server IP, a user name, and a password. Although there are several configuration settings that allow you to customize your experience, I pretty much stuck with the default. There was one step that allowed me to select Gnome as my desktop instead of KDE which I did. I assumed it was asking me what the virtual desktop was.
Now what initially impressed me was how fluid and responsive the experience was. I was especially impressed because the first time I connected to the virtual desktop, I was running the download installer of World of Warcraft which at the time was sucking up over 300 kb/s and I found out later, iTunes had started to download an HD movie. With everything going on at once my bandwidth usage for WOW dropped to 75 kb/s. I only point this out in an attempt to highlight the heavy bandwidth usage throughout my initial experience using the NX client.
During my initial usage, I launched terminal and executed an apt-get update/upgrade. I found the text of the updates “scrolling” up the screen to have momentary hesitation creating a minor choppy experience, but not to the point of unusability. I believe I could work in that environment every day without feeling real frustrated over performance issues. Although it might not be the right environment for every imaginable task, it would work fine for many daily tasks. I also feel that under normal bandwidth usage, the performance of the virtual desktop was a little smoother still.
The other aspect that I was pleasantly surprised by was the applications viewing experience. In some respects, it felt like a web browser but without the bookmark menu or navigation tool bar. There was very little “application obstacle” that interfered with the desktop. As a result, it was fairly easy to feel like you were working on your desktop. Where this became frustrating was when I wanted to close a browser window, my tendency was to click on what was actually the NX client’s close button. Luckily, the application wants you to confirm you want to close your virtual desktop connection. Under my Linux Mint install, the minimize, enlarge and close icons of both the web browser and the client are identical. I would imagine in a production environment, this would cause some frustration for IT staff who might get calls from the panicked users.
I never did get around to testing the experience with an adobe flash / video experience. It just wasn't part of what I was curious about in regards to Linux Mint 10. It might also be important to note that it is my understanding that there was no audio capability either.
The only issue that I experienced was attempting to create a new user account on Linux Mint so that Scott could connect and explore the experience as well. I found the user and groups Linux Mint application to be mostly unresponsive. However I do not know if that was an issue related to the NX client or the install of Linux Mint. To get around this issue, I simply used terminal to create a user account and password that seemed to work just fine for Scott.
All in all I found the virtual desktop experience to be very comfortable and usable. As I stated above, I am currently connected to the virtual desktop while adding finishing touches to what will eventually be my post using my Google Doc’s account. I am also planning to officially make this post on the Montana Linux website via my Linux Mint install of NoMachines NX client software.
**UPDATE** I did seem to have some trouble with multiple tabs open. While trying to make this post, I ultimately had four browser tabs open and seemed to have problems getting the NoMachine website to load. It did eventually load, but it took more than one attempt and their website did load a little slow. Considering the first time I wanted to install the Linux NX client and found the download page down, it could very well be the NoMachine website that is having the problems. Plus, I just successfully opened a fifth tab and loaded the Linux Mint website.