FreeNX and Ubuntu

I just discovered FreeNX today :)

I’ve been using VNC for a while at work now, and mostly I’ve been happy with it. Being on a fast internal network with the server literally at my feet hasn’t made me swear at the lack of speed. The only thing that has irritated me a little is that my VNC sessions aren’t properly secured. I don’t have anything to hide really, but working with security it just didn’t feel right. Sure, I could, and I did for a while, secure it using SSH, but since the client is a Windows machine it makes it all a bit clunky. Requiring a PuTTY instance with port forwarding to be running is plain ugly. An encrypted connection really should be built into VNC by now. So, I decided to take FreeNX for a ride.

Unfortunately FreeNX isn’t in Ubuntu Hoary, however there is a page in the Ubuntu Forum, which is a bit outdated–it covers Warty mostly. Some of the comments in the forum did point me to the Backports project. I don’t really like the Backports (I managed to screw my system up a bit a while ago) but they do seem to have grown up a bit by now. Anyway, I only added the repos to my sources.list long enough to install the packages I needed.

Installation was a breeze. I chose to use custom keys, sorting out the client-side problems created by that turned out to be simple as well. No extra tinkering with the config files seemed necessary.

For the Windows client I am using NoMachine’s Windows client. In order to use it with my server I needed to copy the public key (on the server: /var/lib/nxserver/home/.ssh/client.id_dsa.key) to the share dir on the client side (you’ll find it’s a subdir to the install dir of the client software). That’s it, password-less remoting of my Linux desktop with the security of SSH. Brilliant.

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