[clug] Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for Linux Desktops

Stephen Hocking stephen.hocking at gmail.com
Tue May 9 06:54:54 UTC 2017

Some of the X toolkits are very chatty, requiring many roundtrips between
the X server & the program. NX, VNC and RDP obviate that. I tend to use
xrdp, as Windows boxes come with a client already installed (mstsc).
Wayland was/is supposed to have some sort of RDP functionality, but the
last time I looked, it was pending. Tweak your desktop to have a flat
colour background, and go with simple window decorations in your window
manager themes. It's no co-incidence that recent MS desktops have adapted
the flat look.

I've been a long time X user, 1st X terminal I saw was in 1988, and I was
the XFree86 project's 1st beta tester. It was a decent set of abstractions
for the hardware of its time, but the problem space has changed since then.
Sometimes it's just simpler and easier to blast pixmaps about.

On 9 May 2017 at 13:49, steve jenkin via linux <linux at lists.samba.org>

> > On 7 May 2017, at 15:55, David C via linux <linux at lists.samba.org>
> wrote:
> >
> > Steve, in principle, you're right. Firefox over X11 is terrible, so plan
> B is called for.
> >
> > On 7 May 2017 3:37 pm, "steve jenkin via linux" <linux at lists.samba.org>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> Have I missed something?
> >> Wasn’t X-11 invented to solve this precise problem?
> >>
> >> [the ‘client’ and ‘server’ model, where the ‘X-11 server’ is the display
> >> device.]
> David,
> Have you tried a 'lightweight’ browser over the same config / network /
> systems?
> That’d identify where things are going and lead you towards an optimum
> solution, not a kludge.
> If Firefox is the problem, looking to a faster-over-remote browser is a
> more scalable & maintainable solution than a remote desktop.
> Or the problem might be the mismatch in X-11 / OpenGL / GPU driver configs
> between the client and X-11 server.
> Or simply that ‘xrender’ support was removed.
> A reddit user reported a significant performance hit going from Firefox 46
> to Firefox 47.
> Regressing versions to one with xrender support might give you a quick
> work-around and suggest a fastpath to a permanent solution.
> > FF 47 unbearable slow over remote X11
> > <https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/4nfmvp/ff_47_
> unbearable_slow_over_remote_x11/>
> > We use XDMCP or x2go to connect to a server (via Gigabit Ethernet) and
> where scrolling was super smooth on FF46, FF47 is laggy as hell,
> > just like Chrome always was.
> >  It seems that it doesn't use native X11 rendering anymore
> >  but renders the whole webpage as one graphic,
> > which then needs to be retransmitted completely to the client.
> >  I couldn't find anything in the changelog regarding this.
> >> This is because we disabled XRender support.
> The (performance) fault you’re talking about was logged in 2005.
> It was never fixed.
> From the comments, what you’re seeing is a very well known problem with
> ‘chatty’ protocols like MSFT's RPC's:
>         “It works fine locally, but performance crashes over the network”.
> > Performance of Firefox over X11 remote display, and equivalently under
> VNC, is unbelievably/unusably slow
> > <https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=299727>
> >> I tried using xmsgtrace to see what X protocol messages were being
> sent, but there were several thousand, more than I can easily examine with
> the knowledge of Firefox that I have.
> This piece suggests there’s an ‘xrender’ setting that you can set in
> Firefox that might improve your performance over the network.
> Is this pre v.47? didn’t check.
> One comment mentions ‘webgl’ - I didn’t follow that lead.
> > Firefox’s graphics performance on X11
> > <http://www.hackermusings.com/2012/05/firefoxs-graphics-
> performance-on-x11/>
> >> go to about:config and set “gfx.xrender.enabled” to “false”.
> Here are two threads to read, with explicit suggestions of things to try.
> [web-proxy + local F’fox, VPN, SSH forwarding, FreeNX, tweak X-11
> settings, lower screen resolution/colours]
> how to make fast SSH X11 forwarding (specifically, making firefox context
> menu show up quickly)
> <https://serverfault.com/questions/63871/how-to-make-
> fast-ssh-x11-forwarding-specifically-making-firefox-context-menu-s>
> > Remote Firefox over SSH is pretty usable until you try a right click to
> make context menu show up. It takes about 5 seconds for the context menu to
> appear. It seems it takes many round trips.
> >
> > ssh -c blowfish-cbc -C -Y host
> and
> > Give FreeNX a try.
> [Now ‘nomachine’, <https://www.nomachine.com> ]
> Fastest browser to run over a forwarded X11 session
> <https://superuser.com/questions/403594/fastest-browser-to-run-over-a-
> forwarded-x11-session>
> > There are a few browsers that run a bit (to much) better over X11
> forwarding.
> > Midori is a lightweight, tabbed browser that should run well.
> > Xlinks2 should work over X11 forwarding pretty well as well.
> > uzbl and surf are both browsers I've used that should work well over X11
> because they're very minimal.
> > Even if you use a browser that is light-weight on CPU and RAM on the
> server, in this case the limiting factor will undeniably [1] be the
> network. What you want to avoid is mostly unnecessary screen rendering.
> >       • Turn off "smooth scrolling" and such features. Use PgUp/PgDn
> instead of continuously scrolling if you have the choice (a single screen
> update is much faster than 30 just to see a full page).
> >       • Keep a small browsing window (but not so small so you have to
> scroll a lot more as per previous point).
> >       • Block animated material (animated GIFs are not that common
> nowadays, so blocking flash will probably do fine).
> >       • Consider using VNC, which will compress the image transfer in a
> clever way. This gives me a much snappier experience when forced to use GUI
> over slow connections.
> >       • Don't underestimate text-based browsers if there is something
> you quickly need to do on the server.
> >       • Proxy and/or port tunneling through SSH avoid/s the problem
> completely. You just want to transfer the information, it is unnecessary to
> transfer the complete presentation layer.
> >
> > [1]: Unless you have a very fast connection (~100Mbps in my experience);
> then any browser will probably do without being more annoying than using
> the browser locally. I am blessed with this in my remote needs.
> >
> >> This answer is actually much better than the chosen answer.
> >> The complexity of the browser has nothing to do with how fast it runs
> over X11 forwarding,
> >> only how often it needs to send screen update information,
> >> which depends on configuration and usage.
> >> Additionally, you can lower the resolution or number of colors which
> will dramatically increase responsiveness.
> >>  Having said this, uzbl is a good choice because it uses key bindings
> natively although most browsers can be configured in the same way using
> plugins. This will help reduce lag further.
> steve
> --
> Steve Jenkin, IT Systems and Design
> 0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
> PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA
> mailto:sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin
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