Open source software security

Using FreeNX on Mandriva

30 November -0001

FreeNX is a remote desktop client/server program much like VNC. I've found that on Mandriva, remote connections using the TightVNC server that is usually installed, can be sluggish. Part of the reason for that is that TightVNC establishes a connection with the machine in the same way as VNC, i.e. it 'mirrors' the existing desktop across the remote desktop. FreeNX operates more like a thin client. It creates and exports a new session. This makes FreeNX a lot more responsive, but it also creates some unique challenges. Overall I prefer FreeNX to TightVNC.

The first step in using FreeNX is to be sure that freenx is installed on the host machine. Mandriva has an RPM for the server and you should check to see if it's already installed:

[justin@workstation ~]$ rpm -q freenx
freenx-0.6.0-2mdv2007.1

Next download the No Machines FreeNX client from http://www.nomachine.com/download.php. Choose the 'NX Client Desktop Edition' for your client operating system.

Once you install the client you have to configure it to connect to your server. In particular you'll have to get the 'key' to make sure your client works. First locate the key file:

[justin@workstation ~]$ sudo cat /var/lib/nxserver/nxhome/.ssh/client.id_dsa.key
Password:
-----BEGIN DSA PRIVATE KEY-----
MIIBvAIBAAKBgQD/FtSJzZHYOHNg7BajxmmMOLGiB3bCueZb9nYRRD2HItBlAi9e
o0mSu9y1F0sKGvG4Sadfasdfaeq4qS6gpPiw/ovPr4Se6tbwB1ZBe6SoLHcQCJbZ
[snip]
1l67opwShlqXeR+1CeyHm2p5RQMBHDOGZwW4c5A85id3QGDgXxAoz0rzrL+6wstn
0u33QWq7gpKtZhAHjDw+iXAzO+jOeCi2XTCoCps5JV6FxjpU7/6IobYCFQCV0ZQl
wE4/E7w+UWUw8pYnMVedYQ==
-----END DSA PRIVATE KEY-----

When you open the client you'll want to click the 'Key' button and replace whatever is there with the key you find on your host. After that you should be set. You don't have to start the FreeNX service or anything on the server. It's a passive service that waits for connections. These are initiated over an encrypted SSH session, so you get extra security with FreeNX as well.