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Learn about FreeNX, a new remote desktop control for Linux, that offers more speed and security.

VNC is well-known for allowing the remote control of another desktop machine via your own computer. For instance, using VNC you can easily control your home PC from work, and vice versa. The problem with VNC is that it’s not overly secure and it can be quite slow, particularly if you have a lot of fancy graphics or backgrounds on the remote computer. Other solutions also exist for remote control of a GUI, such as running X over ssh, proprietary tools like Apple’s Remote Desktop, etc., but they all tend to have the same drawbacks; they are either insecure or tend to be slow.

A newer protocol known as NX is now available that will run on Linux, Windows, or OS X that allows you to remotely control a desktop system without loss of speed or lack of security. A free implementation of the NX server component, known as FreeNX, working in conjunction with the commercial NX clients (which are free to use) allows one to easily control a remote desktop.

FreeNX, which is available at: is available as a source download or with pre-compiled binaries for certain distributions; your favorite distribution may also come with FreeNX prepackaged (for Mandriva users, look in contribs). FreeNX is meant to run on the Linux server or remote system you want to control.

The commercial clients are available from NoMachine at You can even get the commercial server packages here for Linux and Solaris.

Once FreeNX is installed on the server, you copy a public SSH key onto the client which is used for authentication; NX uses SSH as a transport protocol. On the server, you use the nxserver program to add the user you want to permit access for, and then you connect to the server via the client.

With NX, you can suspend sessions, run multiple sessions, and even control multiple remote desktops, all at near-local speeds.