Friday, September 24, 2010

Beta Testers On GNOME 2.30, Making Progress

Lots of things keeping me busy, but making excellent progress on building a new server to run 64bit OpenSuse 11.3 and GNOME 2.30. Now that gdm is working with XDMCP, I was able to get the logins working. Halfline (thanks!) once again helped me with turning off the animations that were displaying when the authentication screen appears and also then as it goes away and the users wallpaper appears. This type of animation is too slow over remote display, and caused you to have to wait while the screen blinked multiple times. I'm sure it looks great on a local video card, but not suitable for here and not needed in a business/work environment.

Very nice to see enable_esd no longer required. PulseAudio is hooked right into GNOME and once I selected a sound theme with a login clip, it worked immediately. The pulseaudio volume slider bar is working great, even though the sound daemon is running remotely on the thin client. Excellent.

I was able to get beta testers logged in Wednesday and they are using this server fulltime. It's obviously not fully functional, but enough icons and applications are working to do their work.

Previously we were using 3 different techniques to connect to the various Microsoft applications around the City. Some where using Citrix, some were using RDP/Rdesktop and others were using an old product (UIS, Unix Integration Services) that has been discontinued for years. The other System Administrator has been working magic and working on standardizing everything around RDP. This makes it easier for him...just one connection package. It also allows us to fully deploy the new connection method that I had blogged about previously. This has some disadvantages, but is MUCH faster and provides much better sound.

The old technique had rdesktop running on the GNOME server itself. Connection would then be made to Windows. Windows would communicate with rdesktop via RDP, and then we used X11 and Pulse to provide the screen and sound. 100% centralized, stable, easy to upgrade and make changes (blue boxes below). The way we are deploying on the new server, the GNOME server signals the thin client to start a rdesktop session and that session then talks to Windows with RDP. The user presentation is probably at least twice was fast (green boxes below).

So as he continues to get applications ready for RDP, I'll add more and more icons and get them to the beta testers. This is providing the same integrated Linux/Windows desktop we had previously, but with lowered network usage and far better user experience.

Always have to give a screenshot, right? So here is a shot of the current status. MIME handlers are working great for the various file types. Application-browser is starting to fill in nicely with our various City applications. And I launched Internet Explorer to demonstrate how cleanly Windows apps integrate and work right off the standard GNOME icons.

Huh? You are probably wondering why we run Internet Explorer. 99% of all Internet usage is done on Firefox/Linux. But many other Governmental agencies (state and federal mostly) designed pages that are hard coded to only work with Internet Explorer. Our tax dollars at work. :)


Anonymous said...

Have you tried NX? The setup it's more complex than running a VNC server, but the performance it's fairly better.

Dave Richards said...

@@jjmartinez: We use NX at our low bandwidth sites and it works well. In places where we have the bandwidth, native X always looks and works better. The UIs are all more crisp and look better. We aren't using VNC. Old school X here.

olivier said...

hye dave, here is a parameter to turn off animation in gdm or you have just recompile sources ?