Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A problem not big enough to solve?

In open source, 'scratching your itch' is a source of birth for many a project. It makes the assumption that someone who has a problem a.k.a. "itchy", has the resources (e.g. time, effort) to develop a solution (or scratch that itch). With so many open source solutions already built using this time-honored method, the issue nowadays is more of finding the project that "scratches your itch" than actually building one of your own. In fact, this has lead to a lot of dead projects, some of which were brilliant but lost in the shuffle. 

But it surprised me to discover an itch, a problem, that should have been so prevalent that someone should have done something about it. 

I was setting a new MSWindows10 environment at home and decided I needed to be able to access a Linux box remotely and do so while being able to run X11 applications remotely from the box. My go-to solution has been MobaXterm but since it is Freemium solution, I have always installed it with a caveat. I also didn't like it charging for was basically integration of existing open source solutions (in a way, at least). Okay, re-packaging. I remember seeing an alternative called mRemoteNG which sort of has the same features, is open source and expandable.

<a href="" target="_blank">Solved the Problem Illustration</a> by <a href="">Manypixels Gallery</a> on <a href="">Iconscout</a>
I downloaded a portable version and in no time was able to reach servers via SSH tunnels. It does rely on external applications, like Putty, to do the actual connection. But the presentation and configuration management features it provided was very much welcomed. Finally, I decided to use an X11 application on the server. MobaXterm has a built-in X11 server and using it was a no-brainer. But mRemoteNG has no documentaion for it. Even on-line, people did provide suggestions like using the VcXsvr X11 server for windows but no clear indication anybody has successful done so. Which is odd considering running an application from a linux box would be one of the things one would do after connecting to a Linux box. Or have we been disciplined enough to limit ourselves to command-line?

I used XMing back in the day but there are warnings that it doesn't run on Window10. There seemed to be a myriad of things to consider when setting up VcXsvr (e.g. display number, permission settings) before being able to run a single X11 application. Which is strange considering the X11 architecture was intended to allow complex X11 applications to run and consume resources on the server and just provide the UI to the user. 

So I chalk this up to an itch not itchy enough to solve. Nobody has done the work and shared the way to setup mRemoteNG with VcXsrvr. Someone has solved the connection part and the ability to run X11 on Windows. But no one has setup mRemoteNG together with VcXsvr. And that is a shame given that MobaXterm runs X11 apps straight from the ssh window. 

Maybe MobaXterm is the problem solved but nobody it willing to take the extra step and make an open source solution for it. Like I said, not itch enough.

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