I have pretty good numbers on what it takes to run 50-70 Gnome desktops. I went back and looked, and when we made the VNC->NX switch, we were 32 bit and running about 50 desktops on 4GB memory. So aout 82MB per user. (Surprised?)
Apparently the functions of nxproxy have been subsumed by nxagent. We're running freenx 0.7.3 with nxlibs 3.3. NX has become somewhat simpler.
Although we have no need for multimedia, and in fact actively discourage it, I did run a side by side comparison of NX and Tiger last night using this amusing and endlessly fascinating video:
This is on a 1680x1050 screen. It comes up at 320x240 or so. And Tiger reports a 2177kbit connection speed. At that size, both NX and Tiger are jerky. I clearly see each frame update. However, the Tiger instance seems to update at a more even rate. The NX framerate jumps around a lot, which is annoying. I'd give VNC the edge, there. I would say that Tiger is barely usable at that size. If I maximize the totem window, or go full screen, both Tiger and NX go down the toilet. Maybe 2 frames per second. In fact, neither Tiger nor NX are usable if I increase much at all over 320x240.
Interestingly, if I let NX run it through several times, it eventually will play at any size, even full screen, with silky smoothness. Tiger can't begin to match NX's client-side caching. But of course, for this use, that's cheating.
Running this test, I spent a good bit of time on both types of remote desktop. And did some more testing of things like browsing the web and scrolling through PDFs. With NX, it's so easy to forget I'm not on the local machine, that I *have* to make sure to use a different wallpaper remotely and locally. And even then I have to stop and remind myself whether I'm remote or local. With Tiger, I can *never forget* that I'm on a laggy remote connection. My users would storm in and lynch me if I tried to saddle them with it.
What I get out of all of this is that on a 2 mbit connection with a 75ms ping time:
- NX is *far* superior for normal business desktop work. (Like night and day. There's no comparison.)
- For videos, Tiger is about the same speed (or perhaps slightly faster) and notably smoother for very small videos.
- Neither NX nor Tiger are usable at all for videos much beyond 320x240.
- FreeNX is getting simpler. And Neatx is about to take that simplification to the next level.
FWIW, I do use VNC to remotely administer the legacy windows clients.