Remote Sessions (Hosted solutions)

PostgreSQL scaling will here come into question. Will you plan on providing one postgresql instance per customer or have them access all the same postgresql but different databases? This is really interesting since it raises all problems and solutions that SaaS brings about.

Windows

Vendors may consider to supply a GNUmed hosted (SaaS) solution for small offices. This is achieved by providing users with .rdp files normally opened and run by Microsoft Terminal Services Commands (mstsc.exe) to achieve Windows remote desktop connections.

These same files can, from Linux, have their target IP hexdumped out of them and fed to krdc. One user of a test system noticed some visual glitches at 1280x1024 which could be due to slow rdp session screen updates or his system. Besides that it seemed to work. From a quick security gleen, he saw that files cannot be renamed so there seem to be some privileges involved. However he was able to start up internet explorer and access wiki.gnumed.de therefore disabling outgoing traffic to the world wide web might be advisable.

Windows SteadyState has a kiosk mode (lock down feature).

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx

Only two users at a time are, however, allowed to log in remotely. Some patches and obscure dll to augment this may be available however see next section.

Linux

If you want to simply provide GNUmed but none of the Windows Desktop feature (you still can) have a look at nx from nomachine or x2go.

http://www.x2go.org/index.php?id=1&L=4

You can have MS Windows client machines log into GNUmed client (on a Linux Server) and have the user see the log in dialog only without Linux desktop.

If you feel your users need the Windows desktop you could use nx to log the user into a Linux desktop which will start a linux rdp client which will connect to a Windows PC in the same local network.

The benefit ? You will get faster response times since the internet connection is compressed and established between the linux server. Windows XP has a limitation of one user per machine and only two users at a time are allowed to log in remotely. Some patches and obscure dll are believed to be available.

You can host more clients on the server. Linux will allow unlimited client connections.

RDP in your local network will work much faster than RDP over the internet.

Connection between client and server through nx is by default encrypted while RDP's security seems to be "lacking".

Once you decide that the linux client and the windows client are equal and your clients don't need or want (in the future) the Windows desktop you can get rid of the Windows PCs in your local network and the clients won't even notice it.

You can increase security and profit by selling thin clients to your customers that can establish rdp and nx connections.

Service providers we expect will be happier having their clients connect to a linux box which has a light window manager like xfce and a windows like theme if you must. That way a decent machine should be able to handle ten or more clients.
Topic revision: 18 Dec 2009, JamesBusser
 
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