User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

The first GNOME Boxes release

GNOME Boxes is, according to this blog post by one of its authors, "designed to be the easiest way to use or connect to applications running on another Windows, Mac, or Linux system. Whether the system is virtual and local, a home computer you need to access from the road, or a centrally hosted corporate login - we'll get you there." The first release is now available; see this post for more information and screenshots. (Thanks to Paul Wise).
(Log in to post comments)

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 16:40 UTC (Wed) by kragilkragil2 (guest, #76172) [Link]

Gnome is now officially a Red Hat testbed for their halfbaked stuff that nobody uses (Spice) and their weird design choices (Gnome-Shell).

I read this quote today and I think it sums it up quite nicely:

"F/OSS users are members of a community. There is inevitably a wall between the majority of community members and the blessed: the decision makers, the developers. The art of maintaining a good community is partly to do with making this wall as invisible as possible: encouraging participation, lowering the barrier for contributions; welcoming feedback; etc.1. The GNOME community have invested a lot into the GNOME 2 way of doing things, and GNOME 3, by breaking away from that so fundamentally, has devalued the community's investment. It screams: we don't want your panel widgets! We don't want your themes! Your working practices are wrong: this is the right way! GNOME 3 is opinionated software, and it's opinion differs from a large body of the GNOME community. The result? resentment. Remember: GNOME 3 is not just something new: it's the abrupt termination of something old, tried and tested."
(http://jmtd.net/log/in_response/)

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 16:54 UTC (Wed) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

What would you suggest instead of Spice? People want some degree of host-based acceleration without doing full graphics passthrough, and right now there aren't really any other solutions that are (a) cross platform and (b) free.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 18:07 UTC (Wed) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

> There is inevitably a wall between the majority of community members and the blessed: the decision makers, the developers.

That is more accurate if rephrased to say:

There is a inevitably a wall because people that don't actually use the software but rant up and down forums about how much it all sucks and thee the people that devoted huge portions of their lives to actually hacking on the software.

Free software is, and always will be, a meritocracy. People that do the work are the ones that make the decisions. And this is absolutely how it needs to be. Anything else is borderline slavery.

> Gnome is now officially a Red Hat testbed for their halfbaked stuff that nobody uses (Spice) and their weird design choices (Gnome-Shell).

I use Spice and it works fantastically. It is far and away superior to VNC or the SDL-based framebuffer that Qemu supported prior to it.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 20:35 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

"There is a inevitably a wall because people that don't actually use the software but rant up and down forums about how much it all sucks and thee the people that devoted huge portions of their lives to actually hacking on the software."

Too right. I've spent close on ten years on my project, only to see people like "Cyberax" claim he's got scores of examples of "braindeadness", and he's even too lazy to actually give me one, which, if it's indeed something broken, would at least give me a sporting chance to improve Krita. It's not like I'm not holding out for a patch...

Fortunately, real users are rather more appreciative, and some even post their appreciation on forums -- http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?p=3305999 :-)

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 18:15 UTC (Wed) by pabs (subscriber, #43278) [Link]

SPICE has been around since at least 2007, first as a part of Solid ICE, a proprietary KVM-based virtualisation product of Qumranet. Then in 2008 RH aquired them and opened their stuff.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 18:39 UTC (Wed) by SEJeff (subscriber, #51588) [Link]

Seriously? Spice is crap? How else can you watch HD videos on thin clients without dropping frames using open source software. Spice is incredibly good stuff.

SPICE

Posted Nov 23, 2011 22:11 UTC (Wed) by jonabbey (guest, #2736) [Link]

Is SPICE at the point yet where it can reasonably be used outside of the QEMU context?

That is, could I use a SPICE client to connect to a Linux server, login via gdm, and have the desktop audio and video be sent to the client? Say by having PULSE_SERVER and DISPLAY set to some local ports before being sent over the network?

Right now I'm working on setting up a remote display environment so our users can run a browser to a desktop without putting their local environment at a (significant) risk of data exfiltration, so something like SPICE seems like it would be great, but I'd rather not have to have the overhead of QEMU and a virtualized VGA and Sound card in the mix.

SPICE

Posted Nov 24, 2011 1:17 UTC (Thu) by csigler (subscriber, #1224) [Link]

Apologies if I sound like a broken record, as I've commented on other articles about remote desktop access. I've used FreeNX from http://freenx.berlios.de/ and have been quite satisfied. Performance is acceptable or better over lower bandwidth, higher latency links.

There've been no updates to FreeNX for over three years as its developer, Fabian Franz, and another major force in the effort, Kurt Pfeifle, have "moved on," as someone on the mailing list noted. There's a dormant github project Fabian put up after FreeNX's last significant development input:

https://github.com/Fabianx/freenx

so when Berlios goes away, the project history may not be lost after all.

For similar efforts, there's NeatX, a libre partial implementation of NX from Google, but it's been abandoned since 2009. For others, see this mailing list message:

http://mail.kde.org/pipermail/freenx-knx/2011-October/009...

which mentions:

http://opennx.net/

and

http://xpra.org/

A multi-protocol remote access client is here:

http://remmina.sourceforge.net/

but I'm not familiar with it.

Been a long time since I did any "research" on available software in this area because, when I need it, I've been using FreeNX. In a related development, NoMachine announced in December, 2010, that their next version, 4, would use a closed source protocol and implementation.

Clemmitt

SPICE

Posted Nov 24, 2011 1:23 UTC (Thu) by jonabbey (guest, #2736) [Link]

X11 is perfectly fine in our environment for remote desktop display / usage.. I'm more concerned about getting audio added into the mix.

SPICE

Posted Nov 24, 2011 1:38 UTC (Thu) by csigler (subscriber, #1224) [Link]

A quick googling found a post to the FreeNX mailing list:

http://mail.kde.org/pipermail/freenx-knx/2010-November/00...

The poster says that remote audio is problematic for FreeNX and NoMachine. However, x2go:

http://www.x2go.org/

http://wiki.x2go.org/

is claimed to work very well to provide remote sound via PulseAudio. HTH.

Clemmitt

SPICE

Posted Nov 24, 2011 12:47 UTC (Thu) by mgedmin (subscriber, #34497) [Link]

Doesn't PulseAudio make audio network transparent when you use X?

I recall once ssh'ing into a remote machine connected to the speakers to play some music with mplayer and being surprised when the sound came out of my laptop's speakers instead, thanks to SSH X forwarding and the PULSE_SERVER property on the root window. That was years ago.

SPICE

Posted Nov 25, 2011 7:05 UTC (Fri) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

> Doesn't PulseAudio make audio network transparent when you use X?

It can.

One thing I've done that I've liked is to enable the TCP support in PulseAudio daemon and configure it to listen on localhost. Then on the remote machine set the ~/.pulse/client.conf to default-server=localhost.

Then I set ~/.ssh/config to do a reverse port for PulseAudio to use and that way I get sound streaming to my local system tunneled over SSH. That way everything is all encrypted and happy.

I don't know if that is abusing the protocol or whatever, but it seems to work fine. Have not tried it over high latency links.

One thing I've been contemplating doing is to either take advantage of PulseAudio's RTP protocol support or setup a gstreamer chain to forward my audio to a Icecast server. That way I could use regular desktop applications to setup a internet radio stream. Even tie it into Jack for doing live mixing or whatever. Seems like it would be a useful way to turn a linux-based Digital Audio Workstation into a sound board for a internet radio station.

As far as SPICE goes it is not optimized for low-bandwidth utilization. So far it's intended purpose is strictly for doing virtualized-based workstations. It is designed to provide performance on par with a local desktop over a LAN configuration. It does happy things like audio compression and it can detect video on the display and use mjpeg video to stream it over a network.

So comparing it currently to things like FreeNX is comparing apples and oranges. There is overlap, but the use case is different.

For example:

Spice requires virtualized hardware. FreeNX does not.
FreeNX requires a remote X Server. Spice does not.

So you can use SPICE with MSDOS if you want. For optimal use you have to use a paravirtualized QXL video card, but it's not required. You still get a lot of performance benefits when using regular VESA or other cards Qemu suports. You can use SPICE to do installs remotely over a network for a wide variety of operating systems. FreeNX you cannot do. Load special drivers for Windows installations, switch Grub to using single user mode, using Linux console, All sorts of stuff like that. It's not so much 'remote desktop' as 'remote VGA connection'.

But FreeNX is still going to be far superior if you are trying to do remote administration over a slow 'WAN' network.

Hopefully SPICE will get a bandwidth optimized version. This is needed to compete with ICA protocol from Citrix.

Also hopefully the paravirtualization gets to the point were you can have OpenGL acceleration. This is needed to get KVM to the same level as Vmware, Virtualbox, and a couple other virtualization solutions.

I don't think that most Linux users/admins really quite comprehend the level that remote desktops are now used in the industry. We have people that use run dozens of desktops in a call center that are running remotely 3/4 of the world away. VoIP and everything is integrated. Probably about 90% of the desktop applications I use at work on Windows is done from virtualized machines. This requires zero training and is completely and utterly transparent to users. I suspected it because of the little icon in the systray and a indicator that would pop up when launching new apps on my Windows workstation, but a less curious person would have no idea that 'local' applications are ran remotely.

The only problems I ran into was with a particularly badly written piece of Java software, because the VMs are defaulted limited to 256MB of RAM per application. Other then that it's really very transparent. I was quite surprised on how vastly more mature remote desktop stuff on Windows has gotten compared to Linux.

It would be fantastic if we could do something like that with open source software. Maybe 'X12' could do it. Maybe some future version of SPICE can be made to do it. I don't know.

I imagine that if SPICE is to be used as a remote desktop or remote administrative interface for non-virtualized Linux systems there would need to be a framework for Linux to host virtual hardware for otherwise non-virtualized system. SPICE is designed to operate at 'below' the hardware level with paravirt hardware.

That could open all sorts of possibilities for virtualized hardware on otherwise non-virtualized systems. Virtual USB devices, virtual network devices, virtual drives. Maybe useful for LXC. Maybe not so interesting. I don't know.

SPICE

Posted Nov 25, 2011 17:50 UTC (Fri) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

SPICE can certainly work (in theory) without QEMU and other stuff. It should be fairly easy to start Wayland on an offscreen video buffer and use it for SPICE remoting.

That way you'll even get hardware graphics acceleration on your host. The only thing you'll need is a working EGL library.

What's more, you can in theory later just attach Wayland surface to a real device using the hotplug mechanism. Just imagine - you work remotely on your computer using a tablet while your wife is watching YouTube on it. Then you come to your computer and with a flick of hand transfer your workspace from offscreen buffer to the real console.

All of the infrastructure for this is ready.

SPICE

Posted Nov 26, 2011 23:45 UTC (Sat) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

That's very cool.

One of the things people don't notice about Windows is that (I don't understand the exact circumstances) applications can disconnect from a running GUI session and then reconnect without needed to be restarted.

The biggest example that I can think of this happening is one of the reasons how Microsoft was to enable much greater (perceived) stability for graphics drivers for Vista and Windows 7. Many Windows users can testify that occasionally when launching a 3D game or some app or something the entire screen will go black and then restart up again. What has happened (from what it seems like anyways) is that the kernel caught a exception or some other problem with the graphics drivers and had reset everything. The GUI is rebuilt and then all the applications still running are loaded back up and reconnected to the GUI session like nothing happened.

With Wayland, and it's compositing-based windowing system, seems like this sort of thing should be possible.

SPICE

Posted Nov 27, 2011 4:58 UTC (Sun) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

What has happened (from what it seems like anyways) is that the kernel caught a exception or some other problem with the graphics drivers and had reset everything. The GUI is rebuilt and then all the applications still running are loaded back up and reconnected to the GUI session like nothing happened.

With Wayland, and it's compositing-based windowing system, seems like this sort of thing should be possible.

that sounds way cool. I hope wayland ends up working that way because that sounds like it will be way more reliable in practice

SPICE

Posted Nov 29, 2011 22:19 UTC (Tue) by elanthis (guest, #6227) [Link]

It also means you can upgrade your graphics driver (which is usually the only time I see that happen) without so much as a restart. Unlike Linux, which requires installing an entire new kernel to get a simple DRM driver update (and this is unlikely to ever change).

SPICE

Posted Dec 1, 2011 23:10 UTC (Thu) by intgr (subscriber, #39733) [Link]

> when launching a 3D game or some app or something the entire screen will
> go black and then restart up again. What has happened (from what it seems
> like anyways) is that the kernel caught a exception or some other problem
> with the graphics drivers and had reset everything

I'm pretty sure these glitches you're describing are actually GPU hangs/crashes, which are handled by resetting the card: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg487336
A real driver crash still causes a blue screen.

Linux can recover from these, too (at least the Intel driver does).

SPICE

Posted Nov 26, 2011 0:05 UTC (Sat) by jonabbey (guest, #2736) [Link]

Ah, that's what I need to do, then. We're allowing one-way ssh to the system that provides a web browser to the outside world, and if I can tunnel PulseAudio over that rather than having to let the browser host call back into the inside over a non-encrypted link, that would be great.

SPICE

Posted Nov 26, 2011 0:08 UTC (Sat) by jonabbey (guest, #2736) [Link]

Agreed, it would be wonderful to have SPICE develop into a full featured high performance (GPU accelerated as appropriate) remote desktop system in the free world.

SPICE

Posted Nov 25, 2011 17:49 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

There is one thing spice is missing which it will eventually need if modern desktop Linux distros are to run under virtualization, and that's 3D virtualization. This is really really hard, but people are working on it. (Chances of getting it working with QEMU's other display targets: pretty much nil.)

SPICE

Posted Nov 25, 2011 17:51 UTC (Fri) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Uhm. You're missing something. VMWare has working 3D virtualization for a few years.

Aaaaand it's open source! And even mainlined.

SPICE

Posted Nov 25, 2011 18:39 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

vmware open source??

I know they had some flavors that were free of charge for individuals, but I didn't know they had anything that was opensource. do you have a pointer to this?

SPICE

Posted Nov 25, 2011 18:43 UTC (Fri) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

VMWare is definitely NOT open source, but its 3D acceleration architecture is.

Look at vmwgfx driver in Linux and corresponding 'SVGA' driver in Gallium3D in userland.

SPICE

Posted Nov 26, 2011 16:58 UTC (Sat) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Er, yeah, it may have, but VMWare != spice. :)

SPICE

Posted Dec 2, 2011 9:50 UTC (Fri) by robbe (subscriber, #16131) [Link]

This 3D virtualization only works locally, not over the network. I don't know whether there is much code reuse possibility for SPICE or similar protocols.

If it were that easy, VMware itself would already offer it for their View product.

SPICE without KVM?

Posted Nov 24, 2011 2:55 UTC (Thu) by dowdle (subscriber, #659) [Link]

There was a SPICE for X11 release a while back that supposedly frees SPICE from the KVM chains... even though SPICE was not designed to be a general purpose remote display protocol. I don't know what state it is in. I don't think any distros have picked it up yet and I don't know anyone using it. I would like to hear a report.

So far as SPICE with KVM, I've used it quite a bit over a LAN and it works fairly well. It is the best free remote display protocol I've found so far and audio works, A/V sync works (although I don't try to do anything other than short Youtube videos), and microphone input works. I believe they have added USB to it but I haven't looked into that yet.

An alternative is xrdp which uses a VNC-to-RDP setup. That gives you reasonable speed over slower links but no usable sound / video.

On the non-free side, the upcoming NX 4 from NoMachine seems amazing. I've tried a few of their previews. It is still a bit buggy but sound and a/v sync seems to work fairly well with less bandwidth and more latency than SPICE seems to tolerate. NX 4 will supposedly have a Windows Server side and a Mac Server side but so far they have not released any previews for those so one has to wonder if they have even started work on them yet and if so, how far they have gotten. I saw "coming soon" type articles about a year ago but I think NX 4 is still a long, long ways away.

I was kind of hoping that Red Hat would buy NX and open source their NX4 protocol... but maybe that is hoping for too much. :)

BTW, SPICE (and the free-cost edition of NoMachine's NX) are both used in a commercial desktop virtualization product named VERDE from Virtual Bridges... and Red Hat is also using SPICE in their Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Desktops product so I would imagine there are some actual paid deployments. I'm sure tons of roll-your-own-for-free users are using SPICE in the wild.

I primarily use SPICE with Fedora for a Linux Systems Admin class... giving each student a KVM VM to be root of with reasonable GUI desktop access for general Linux usage. One thing I like about SPICE and KVM is that you can give the VMs private IP addresses with the VM host system having a public IP... and the VMs are accessible via a port on the host system. I'm not quite sold on general purpose VDI / virtual desktops but in this case, it works quite well.

SPICE without KVM?

Posted Dec 5, 2012 18:57 UTC (Wed) by bmullan (guest, #88168) [Link]

Try x2go.
I've used nomachine but unless you buy the commercial version you're limited in number of users the server supports.

x2go is open source, utilizes some of the open source nx libraries but implements their own server & clients

native clients exist for mac, windows, linux

there is also a python version.

performance is great, audio, printing, file shares etc all work very well.

if you use Ubuntu there is even a firefox plugin so you can use firefox as a client.

its under very active development and has a great dev & user mail list you can join to find out more info.

http://www.x2go.org/doku.php/wiki:start

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 18:50 UTC (Wed) by Doogie (guest, #59626) [Link]

Everyone knows all software peaked in the early 90's (coincidentally around the time I learned to code). Everything written after that has been downhill.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 20:32 UTC (Wed) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

I'll package it for Mageia; no matter what stop energy people produce on LWN and elsewhere.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 24, 2011 10:16 UTC (Thu) by dgm (subscriber, #49227) [Link]

Good. I'm sure Mageia users will be happy to have more tools at their disposition. What I'm also sure is that they will appreciate an explanation of what this thing is good for (besides displaying spinning hypercubes). As far as I can tell, it's just a front-end to connect to remote systems or run virtual machines. Why I would want a unified front-end for that is beyond me.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 24, 2011 14:07 UTC (Thu) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

Not sure what your point is.

What it does? The spec file indeed contains a %description and that is used in Mageia for all packages.

Somehow objections to Boxes? If you honestly suggests that we'll (Mageia) get questions only about one specific application: I think I live in a different world than yours :P

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 24, 2011 11:26 UTC (Thu) by gilboa (guest, #23856) [Link]

"Gnome is now officially a Red Hat testbed for their halfbaked stuff that nobody uses (Spice) and their weird design choices (Gnome-Shell)."

Both me and my coworkers around me maintain close to 100 spice-based VMs. (~30% of that are mine)
I assume that given your bold statement ("Nobody uses") you must be maintaining at least, say, 3,000 VM's, right?

... But please, do continue claiming that you represent the world + dog.

- Gilboa

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 16:48 UTC (Wed) by bjartur (guest, #67801) [Link]

In case anyone else is wondering, it seems to be a graphical remote desktop manager optimized for local virtual machines and a virtual machine launcher.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 16:52 UTC (Wed) by tzafrir (subscriber, #11501) [Link]

Not just local. Keywords here are KVM and (for remote systems) SPICE.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 17:13 UTC (Wed) by theophrastus (guest, #80847) [Link]

I *was* wondering and appreciate your summary summary - thankee. (hell, for a second i thought "SPICE" might have something to do with electronic circuit simulation - just to show how out of it -i- am)

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 17:22 UTC (Wed) by galens (guest, #23805) [Link]

You're not the only one. IMHO, that's a really poor choice of names, given that SPICE, the circuit simulator, predates SPICE, the remote protocol, by about 35 years.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 23, 2011 18:10 UTC (Wed) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

It wasn't Redhat's choice. It was proprietary software developed by a company that Redhat purchased. Since then they have open sourced it.

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 24, 2011 12:29 UTC (Thu) by clump (subscriber, #27801) [Link]

Excuse me, only hyperbole is welcome in this discussion ;)

The first GNOME Boxes release

Posted Nov 27, 2011 6:41 UTC (Sun) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

Yes, but considering that one big market for Red Hat is supplying servers for customers to run electronic design automation software, the name collision is going to be confusing to their customers (though someone's probably checked by now for any clashing command names).

Gentoo ebuild available

Posted Nov 23, 2011 17:01 UTC (Wed) by dberkholz (guest, #23346) [Link]

For any Gentoo users wanting to try it, there's already an ebuild in the gnome overlay. Not for the faint of heart though, involves lots of dev releases and live git stuff.

Gentoo ebuild available

Posted Nov 23, 2011 18:27 UTC (Wed) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Spice support has been present in Fedora for 2 releases now. Prior to that it was possible to use it on Fedora and Ubuntu if you were willing to install and build a couple packages from third parties.

Currently you can use it most easily if you are using Fedora 16 and install the virt-manager stuff. That should now have spice support integrated. So after you install VM you can go into the details view and convert the video to spice and the vga card to 'qxl'. After that a reboot should do it.

The video drivers necessary on the client side (qxl device) have been available in every distro for a couple releases now, I believe. If not then you can use a vga or vesa device with spice and it will work well, just not as well.

This Boxes release seems like a attempt to finally have a desktop friendly solution for KVM. Which is needed. Kudos to Gnome folks for the attempt.


Copyright © 2011, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds