Is a Free windows client planned, based on the NoMachine code or is that left for others to do?
Fabian Franz: A Free windows client is not yet planned. That is left as a task for others. As soon as KDE works flawlessly on Windows, the current kNX client will automatically also work on Windows, without any additional effort.
The NoMachine client for Windows is available already today free of charge -- even freely redistributable... So there is not a very high interest or incentive. By the way, there are also free NX clients available from NoMachine for Linux, Solaris, Max OS X, Zaurus, iPAQ, ThinStation and other operating systems. Those are "free as in beer".
Kurt Pfeifle: The interesting aspect about the KDE client for NX is the goal to integrate it into KDE as tightly as possible, thus using the full power of the superior KDE internal architecture. That includes the implementation of an "nx://" kio-slave and an NX KPart just like the storage of NX passwords into KWallet.
With the opportunity to testdrive Linux without installing it to harddisk, Knoppix Live CDs have certainly contributed very much to Linux' popularity and propagation. A broad availability of NX should make it even easier to dive into Linux as a desktop and workstation operating system. Will we be able to get a taste of brandnew KDE features via NX?
Kurt Pfeifle: Yes.
And that's possible already today. Since several months I "abuse" a root server from "1&1" to do nightly builds of the most recent KDE CVS HEAD branch, which is rapidly approaching to become KDE 3.3, using an automatic build script.
The KDE project will use the NX technology in a broader way after akademy, to foster and speed up its own development.
Fabian Franz: You have to understand that KDE consists of more than 1000 more or less active contributors. Only about half of them are "technically inclined" C++ programmers. A huge and also crucial part of the work is done by artists, translators, documentation writers and beta testers, who can't necessarily do programming.
The non-technical develoeprs don't tend to use bleeding edge versions of KDE for their daily work. Neither do they rebuild their own KDE from the HEAD branch of the KDE CVS repository on a weekly basis. They tend to wait for official releases and don't install it until their favorite distribution ships precompiled update packages.
With every KDE release cycle in the past this resulted in a big gap: Documentation authors, translatiors and artists lagged behind the current C++ programmer sourcecode by months with their work.
Kurt Pfeifle: NX can change that. An automatic, but supervised script builds a fresh KDE HEAD every night which is supervised by a group of experienced developers. The result can be tested, used, translated, documented, polished, bugfixed (or even rejected and reverted) remotely by hundreds of KDE activists "in real time", very early in each development cycle.
NX even allows to install several KDE versions in parallel in a conflict free manner. So in the future we will have a reference installation available to verify bugs as well as report and fix them. This can increase the process of bugfixing tremendously, making it a lot more efficient.
Please keep in mind that it can be very time consuming to start a system with KDE 3.2.3 to verify or investigate a small bug, since many developers actually run KDE HEAD for their daily work.
We will set up one or more FreeNX servers on strong hardware which is permanently accessable to all KDE developers and prooven contributors to work on it. This includes KDE HEAD as well as the last stable release. Especially the contributors of the new KDE Quality Team will belong to the privileged circle of users.
Although we are already in contact with potential hardware and bandwith sponsors, the talks are not finished. Whoever wants to support us, can still jump aboard... ;-)
''*On first sight, a broad integration of NX could surely lead to new opportuniteis of server-based desktops in enterprise, government, public administration and schools. What is the potential of NX here for the next few years ahead?*''
Kurt Pfeifle: NX will change the way we think of "network computing" entirely. A lot of different use cases in a dozen of different areas come to my mind...
Fabian Franz: First of all, NX will mean a new boost to server based computing -- not only for classical server applications, but especially for the personal desktop (though without making the "personal computer" superfluos and without degrading everything to small diskless "thin clients").
NX-driven application servers are the keyword here.
They'll not only be attractive to companies, government agencies and schools -- if Familiy Smith owns a root server, they can easisly turn it into an NX application server including maintainance, backup, software updates, etc. done by their service provider.
In the future, "root servers" will not only be on lease with Apache and PureFTPD, but also with (Free)NX.
Kurt Pfeifle: Secondly, NX allows for interaction of completely different hardware components: A Siemens Mobile and a Sharp PDD with a Fujitsu Mainframe or an AMD Athlon cluster; an Apple iBook with IBM zSeries, Sony Playstations with Solaris Enterprise Servers...
Fabian Franz: Thirdly, NX melts down the frontiers between operating systems. It will become unimportant what system I am current using: on Linux, on Windows, on Mac OS X, on Solaris, on Zaurs, or on a Knoppix booted from an USB stick. No matter which application or which desktop, on which operating system I want access: to KDE complete, to OpenOffice, to KMail or to Windows with Photoshop: The only worry is to have a running network. NX will care about the access across plattforms.
Kurt Pfeifle: Fourthly NX raises the importanance of software compared to hardware by virtualizing servers and applications.
Fabian Franz: Fifthly, NX will make the increasing number of wireless networks (bluetooth, GPRS, GSM, UMTS...) in the next years much more useful. The buzzword "ubiquitous and pervasive computing" will first come true with NX. And IBM will probably be very surprised about a new meaning of "grid computing".
Kurt Pfeifle: Sixthly, KDE will help to create a new kind of World Wide Web. Where up to now you had to use static, "thin" and low performant HTML pages, one can now use dynamic and "rich" applications in both server-centric and peer-to-peer environments.
Fabian Franz: Seventh: NX allows the better and more efficient use of hardware. "Big irons" can serve as application servers with many prallel user sessions, "weak CPUs" can serve as thin clienta to whom NX allows access to almost inifinite CPU power from anywhere.
Kurt Pfeifle: Eigthly, NX will create a new migration wave to Linux. That is because with NX, a migration plan can be seperated into managable steps. Distributed in small doses, the Linux medicine often considered to be bitter will be much easier to take in: NX can get single applications like KMail or Kontact on a Windows screen. In reality, the applications are running on remote Linux computers, completely transparent to users. This reduces today's permanent administration efforts like backup or virus protection by many magnitutes; and it is the first step of a complete migration.
Let me give only one example:
The project "bring KMail/Kontact onto the Windows screen using NX" comprises even more hidden possiblities: two years ago, "Project Aegypten" was started as a contract work by the BSI ('Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik' -- the German federal agency for the security in information technologies). This is a now completed and secure email communication using well-estabilished encryption standards. According to my information, less than 1000 federal government employees currently use KMail -- simply because there aren't more desktops converted to Linux/KDE yet. With the help of NX one could offer KMail access (refined with Project Aegypten algorithms) to every employee in the public sector. Almost instantly, all problems emanating from Windows' viruses and worms would be eliminated if this quite easy transition would come true.
FreeNX and NX can not only help with the first step of migration to Free Software. But they can also support projects, that are postponed now only because 90 steps could be done safely, but the last 10 couldn't be done currently so far. NX builds a "bridge" back to legacy yet important special purpose applications. This is especially important for those public sector departments and offices that didn't start a migration yet because they were afraid of the last 10% of non-ported applications. NX can get applications to the Linux/KDE Desktop that run on Windows Terminal Servers (WTS) or Windows XP Professional workstations.
Fabian Franz: Ninth... I guess we don't get the dozen full today ;-)
Kurt Pfeifle: Yeah, ok, let's not shoot out all our ammunition, and keep some powder dry ;-)
When will we see the first stable release 1.0 of FreeNX? What features will be included?
Fabian Franz: Such a thing as version 1.0 will "never" exist... ;-)
This is because Knoppix 3.6 already includes a snapshot of the 1.4 release. That's because the versioning sheme is attached to the one of NX to keep the maintainance in sync with NoMachine thus making it easier for users and administrators who might switch back and forth between the GPL NX and the commercial version of NoMachine, and who want to have use both on different hosts while keeping intact mutual interoperation.
Kurt Pfeifle: With NX 1.4.0, NoMachine introduces two important features:
- printing to the local printer from remote applications, and
- session suspending, session reactivation and session migration
The new features are currently under development API-wise. They are especially important for professional use cases...
Despite of things being "in the flow" there, we will release a "Snapshot 4" of the NX-1.4 based FreeNX Server during aKademy for the first time -- ready for a broad beta test. At least Debian and SUSE users should have fun with the "aKademy" edition of FreeNX.
Commercial NX 1.4.0 will probably be released in its final shape by NoMachine during September. FreeNX will update and releas as soon as possible after this too. The FreeNX Snapshot is available for download after aKademy.