Things You Should Try

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been fiddling with two very neat Open Source projects: PXES and coLinux.

Terminal Services Done Right

PXES is a complete system for managing Linux-based terminals that puts most commercial offerings to shame. As with most similar solutions, clients can boot from CD, disk or network, with the boot image being centrally managed with a simple and efficient set of tools.

The difference here is that it supports just about any sort of remote desktop protocol.

Thanks to it, I now have a neat little 150MB CD-Single with a PXES image that turns pretty much any (desktop) PC into a usable SSH/X/VNC/ICA/RDP terminal (an attempt to improve on my USB Keychain), and my only gripe with it so far is that it doesn't support laptops (but I'm not alone in that) - I have a couple of really old Toshibas that could be turned into great wireless X terminals with a few tweaks.


As to coLinux, I recently found out that there was a pre-installed Fedora Core 1 image available, and over a series of 5-minute breaks spread over one week, I eventually got it working the way I wanted on my XP laptop. With the latest pre-0.6.1 snapshot, it runs very well on my laptop (so far - I had a couple of ugly crashes with the 0.6.0 version), and saves me the time to recompile stuff under Cygwin.

Performance is pretty good (even with 128MB RAM and 256MB swap, since Outlook refuses to run properly with less than 512MB of Windows RAM), and despite my having to rebuild the RPM database (which may have gotten corrupted when hammering the coLinux kernel in, I had zero trouble in apting the virtual machine to the latest package sets and set up my usual kit.

Setting it up as a service is a bit flaky, though. Still, it boots fast enough for me to ignore that.