Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Testing Remote Control Ideas

As the GNOME desktop project is getting closer to completion, I spent some time testing an idea that I have had for a while: Offer another option to remote control an existing login. On the current server, if you log in and already have a session running (from another thin client) it allows you to 1) exit without killing the other sesson or 2) Kill the other session and log in cleanly from the current device. We of course have talked about running NX or similar technology for all City thin clients which makes it easy to just steal a session. But old school X is still our preferred technology in all of our buildings with fiber optics. It has a different feel, is more crisp and your software looks like "software" and not a "picture". If you have used NX or VNC, you know exactly what I mean. When possible, we go for the best presentation.

So with this design, I wanted to offer a another option: 3) Remote control your existing session. This solves many use cases for us. You might want to gracefully shut down your software or you may want to quickly access your already running software.

I'm using our good friend x11vnc and it's working well. When you log in for a second time, it alerts you of that fact and then offers you the option to remote control your existing session. Once selected it initiates x11vnc on your original thin client and then starts the viewer on the second device. The second device can be another thin client....or an iPad. In the shot below, I logged into the thin client initially, and then attempted to log into the iPad; got the dialog and am doing a remote control.

What I'm looking at now is the best way to use the -scale option. The second login will very probably be in another monitor resolution. In the case of the shot above, original thin client was 1280x1024 and then I -scale'd it down to 1024x768 for the iPad. Lots of aspect ratio issues to consider.

A fun little useful project, and a good sign that the new server is almost finished.


Rolandixor said...

I don't meant to be rude, but this is showing up on GNOME Planet and each time I think it is something about a new feature in GNOME or a new development :S...

In other words, it's confusing.

Dave Richards said...

@Rolandixor: Not a rude question at all. I believe my feed was picked up by Planet GNOME because there was enough interest by the developers in how their software is being *deployed*. Problems and observations made here seem to help guide future decisions about design. If the feed is not of interest,I believe there is a way to customize the feed at the bottom of the Planet GNOME page and turn off items that are not of interest.