Wednesday, January 06, 2016

More NX & Chrome Books

Here is more information about my big project of late.  We're moving our users to an environment of stateless connections so they can resume between multiple end point devices.  The GNOME desktop and backend software has changed minimally, and focus on this change was making speed optimizations and getting the desktop and software to work on as many devices as possible.

The simplified diagram below shows how end points connect.  A NX Cloud server is the exposed server, and watches for connections over the NX protocol and for logins with a web browser.  A second Node server sits behind the Cloud server and will provide load balancing of users.  In the old "remote X" configuration, Firefox was running on its own server and had an Xwindows hop back to the workstation.  This worked great for many years, but with recent changes in video content and HTML construction, it's gotten too slow.  Now, Firefox is housed on the same server providing the NX transport and this has provided a huge speed gain.  Pages load and scroll immediately and typing is perfectly crisp and fast.  Other software applications that are not as impacted by running over remote X, are still housed on remote servers.  If you click on LibreOffice for instance, it's handed off to another server -- it then hops over Xwindows back to the GNOME/NX server and out to the endpoint device via the NX compression.

Speaking of endpoints, we now are able to provide logins to 6 platforms.  After entering your credentials, the GNOME desktop appears identically on all devices.  And if you are logged into one endpoint, and then log into a second endpoint the session immediately hops to the later device without loss of keystroke.  With the compression of  NX "lighweight" mode, everyone runs quickly over all types of networks and speeds.    Top goals:  Identical software, fast response and resuming.

The most recent end point offering is using a ChromeBook.  This is not yet in production, and being tested mostly by me at this point.  We purchased a HP 14 inch ChromeBook with 4GB memory for around $250.  It boots immediately.  After opening the Chrome browser, you just put in the right URL and credentials and after a few seconds the GNOME desktop appears.  The experience is then the same as the other platforms and this platform will resume sessions started on other types of devices.  This ChromeBook is full 1920x1080 and provides an excellent canvas space for running software.

In the shots below, I am logged into GNOME with just a Chrome web browser.  All software runs natively and doesn't even know it's running inside a browser.  Response is crisp and fast and this integrates nicely with our city workstations. 

Current projects:  Continued testing of Chromebooks, end user training on using NX technology, continued migration of users to NX and starting to look at replacing this older GNOME 2 desktop with GNOME 3.  It will be interesting to see how it runs with NX technology.  Many more blogs to follow in this regard.