Users wishing to access Linux (or Unix) applications from their Windows PCs have the option of running a PC X server on their local Windows machine or running thin client software, such as ThinAnywhere. ThinAnywhere provides an X server that runs directly on the Linux machine and securely communicates with the local PC via the ThinAnywhere client for Windows.
There are several advantages to a thin client configuration using ThinAnywhere over a PC-based X server.
Advantages of using Linux-based Thin Client software over a PC-based X-Server:
- Performance: ThinAnywhere transfers graphics to the Windows client via a proprietary protocol that highly compresses the images. Overall, standard X11 protocol is slower and requires higher bandwidth than the ThinAnywhere thin client software.
- Security: Although X11 has some security built in, it is inherently insecure due to the fact that the machine running the X application must make a connection to the X-server for each application. In the case of a PC X server, that means the PC has to allow for incoming connections, making it an additional security risk. The ThinAnywhere thin client software for Linux removes that security risk by encrypting communication with 128-bit AES encryption. In addition to the encryption, the communication channel is opened only once, from the PC to the Linux server, avoiding incoming connections to the PC.
- Usability: The ThinAnywhere thin client software had features not available on a PC-based X-server. ThinAnywhere allows users to have one or more “sessions” that may be kept running on the Linux server. The user may disconnect the session and reconnect from another location. Sessions may also be shared with users from another office or across the globe, allowing collaboration on data-dependent decisions.
- Reliability: Because ThinAnywhere sessions continue to run on the Linux server until closed by the user, any interruption of the network connection or even a PC reboot will not crash the X applications running on the Linux server.