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Open Source Guacamole Puts VNC On the Web 180

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the there's-an-app-for-that dept.
tbitiss writes "A new open source project dubbed Guacamole allows users to access a desktop remotely through a web browser, potentially streamlining the requirements for client support and administration. Guacamole is an HTML5 and JavaScript (Ajax) VNC viewer that makes use of a VNC-to-XML proxy server written in Java. According to its developers, Guacamole is almost as responsive as native VNC and should work in any browser supporting the HTML5 canvas tag. Supporting 10 Linux desktops in 10 browser tabs? I like the sound of that."
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Open Source Guacamole Puts VNC On the Web

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  • Slashvertisement? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dotancohen (1015143)

    Actually, I have not problem with Slashvertisements that would obviously interest the slashdot community, such as this. Just tag it as such!

  • Where's GuacamoleAnalogyGuy when you need him???

  • by sourcerror (1718066) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:09PM (#32100884)

    Please, can't we have some more abstraction layers? My machine is just so fast I can't handle it. (Yeah, I know, we use the extra performance to services which were unfeasible earlier blah, blah...)

  • 10 desktops (Score:2, Interesting)

    by macbuzz01 (1074795)
    Eavesdropping 10 Linux desktops in 10 browser tabs? I like the sound of that.


    There, fixed it for you
    • That was my first thought when I saw this. I immediately started trying to figure out how to configure our firewalls and web filters to block this.

  • It's called LogMeIn.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cbuosi (1492959)
      Yeah, but LogMeIn is an private, non-free app. Wake me up when an zero config behind-router to behind-router VNC-like app hit the road. The remote desktop integrated app used in MSN (live or whatever is its name now) is very good, but have some flaws (send EVERY FRAME of the remote desktop, becaming slow very fast) and its Windows/MSN only.
      • by deroby (568773)

        GBridge does quite a decent job too IMHO ... tries to be much more than just what you ask for, but so far I've only used it for about 2 weeks, solely for remote access to "all my pc's all over the world" so I can't comment much it's other capabilities but it allows me to connect from work (megafirewall) to home (non-configured NAT) without any problem. It's using a "built-in" Ultr@VNC which is great for my XPHome pc, but can also work with Remote Desktop (which I prefer on the XP Pro machines)

        http://www.gbr [gbridge.com]

    • As a person that is considering logmein as a support tool there are three things I don't like about it:
      1) It doesn't support linux
      2) Requirement to install an agent on the target machine is an unnecessary complication for the end user
      3) It is third party

      Of course a good thing about it is the encryption, although I could not see from the logmein site whether that is end to end or merely encrypting across each internet leg.

      If this project addresses any of the three points above I will be very interes
    • by TheLink (130905)

      I had the impression that stuff like LogMeIn allow users to go to some website, and then voluntarily allow OTHER people to control their computer by also visiting that same site. This is quite convenient when you can't or do not want to reconfigure the firewalls and NAT devices.

      Does Guacamole do that?

      It's not the same thing if Guacamole involves users running a VNC server and then configuring firewalls, NATs etc to allow remote access to their computer.

      In which case you can already do the same thing with ex

  • Great.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macintard (1270416) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:13PM (#32100946)
    "Almost" as responsive as VNC? So it sucks even more?
  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:15PM (#32101000)

    Plain old vncserver had this capability since at least 1998. I remember using it once at a customer site and their staff gathered around gawking. "He's got xterms in Netscape!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but not with XML, Javascript and HTML5. That was a Java applet. So not cool.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Jeffrey Baker (6191)

        This piece of crap is a JavaScript/HTML5 hack plus a server-side Java process. The worst of both worlds!

        Guacamole is a HTML5 and JavaScript (Ajax) VNC viewer, which makes use of a VNC-to-XML proxy server written in Java.

        • by hax0r_this (1073148) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:45PM (#32101644)

          How is that the worst of both worlds, or a hack? This uses Java and Javascript both in the environments in which they work best. And I'm not even sure why you would call this a hack. Do you have a problem with working with XML in a Java server? Java is far from my language of choice, but thats hardly a hack. Or is it the drawing in an HTML5 canvas that you consider a hack? Because thats exactly what its for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Dynedain (141758)

            The hack is in using XML (which has a high-overhead due to it being a "human-readable" plain-text format) to transfer large amounts of data that have no need to be "human-readable" or interpreted by different parsers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by lwsimon (724555)
          But it's open source, so stop whining and go rewrite it in Python, or Perl, or Assembly or something. Or Brainfuck.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by moosesocks (264553)

          Javascript's gotten fast/mature enough to be taken seriously as a real programming language. Google in particular have made some truly impressive progress [geek.com] with Chrome.

          Although the server-side Java applet seems annoying to have, and indeed hack-y, it's awesome that we're starting to see "real" applications in the browser.

          We'll hopefully start seeing lots more of this sort of thing, thanks to Apple's "war on flash."

    • by solevita (967690)
      Indeed.

      I've not RTFA, but I often visit http://some-pc:5800/ [some-pc] - what's so special about this? HTML5?
      • by timeOday (582209)
        Oh well, I'm finding this story pretty informative just for the collected wisdom of all the different VNC-over-HTTP solutions described by the replies. It's actually pretty hard to put that kind of information together.
  • NX (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blkwolf (18520) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:17PM (#32101026) Homepage

    I'd like to see something like this using the NX protocol as the response time is much faster than VNC.

    • You want an X11 server written in HTML5 and JavaScript?

      And you thought X was slow before. . .

    • VNC is slow. Having multiple VNC sessions in a broswer sounds like torture to me.

      When is X11 going to get modern support for sharing displays over a network? Is anyone talking with Nomachine to work on a more integrated solution using NX technology?

    • by caseih (160668)

      Already does that. NX has supported proxying VNC via the NX protocol for some time. Just make a new connection, set the Desktop to "VNC" and then tell the NX server which machine you want to connect to over VNC. Works like this:

      NX client --nxprotocol--> NX Server --vncprotocol--> someotherhost

      Now we just need a web-based, fast NX client! Guess I could run nxclient in a x11vnc session via guacamole. haha

      As for Guacamole, this is cool technology, but being Java-based is a huge minus. I'm certainly

  • So they took UltraVNC from a couple of years ago, which includes its own webserver with a Java interface accessible from a browser - and added a conversion program to change the Java into Javascript w/Canvas?
    • TightVNC had a similar feature as well. I guess we are supposed to be impressed that this uses HTML 5.

      • by deroby (568773)

        Frankly, it was in the "original' VNC 10+ years ago ... (now real-vnc I believe)

      • by Lennie (16154)

        I think it's pretty sad they use XML instead of JSON, but I can't imagine a java-programmer understanding JSON.

    • by Megaweapon (25185)

      So they took UltraVNC from a couple of years ago, which includes its own webserver with a Java interface accessible from a browser - and added a conversion program to change the Java into Javascript w/Canvas?

      And you read about it on Slashdot! Ready to become a subscriber yet?????/??/11

  • Sounds horrible to those of us who don't regularly support users :-)

    I guess if you have "apt" installing a VNC client is not so bad, so I'm not sure I appreciate the advantages that much...

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:19PM (#32101072)
    that Guacamole would be announced on Cinco de Mayo?
    • by rnelsonee (98732)

      What better incentive for a deadline than a day famous for drinking? If they missed the target release, they'd be stuck working 12 hours today to rush it out.

    • by kiehlster (844523)
      Apparently it has more of a chance than being announced on National Guacamole Day, Sept. 16th, or National Spicy Guacamole Day on Nov. 14th. Either of those dates would have been more impressive seeing as Guacamole is an Aztec food.
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Wait, there's a National Guacamole Day?!? What country do you live in?
        • by H0p313ss (811249)

          Wait, there's a National Guacamole Day?!? What country do you live in?

          Probably yours. [thenibble.com]

          I have been known to argue that food is the second most important thing in life, but this is going a bit far.

          • by Locke2005 (849178)
            Not going too far... without food, you'd have no energy for sex!
            • by H0p313ss (811249)

              Not going too far... without food, you'd have no energy for sex!

              Sex is third... (maybe fourth... books > sex?)

              Any guesses on first?

          • by Locke2005 (849178)
            How exactly does one go about proclaiming a National Blueberry Popsicle day? That has got to be one of the most specialized special interest groups I've ever heard of!!!
  • What's old is new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:20PM (#32101082) Homepage Journal

    Heh, all the way back since the late 90's I've been logging in to my VNC sessions via the built-in java client (just go to http://vnchost:5801/ [vnchost] instead of vnchost:1 ). I guess that means that HTML5 + JIT compiled Javascript is the new Java?

    If you like Guacamole, you'll probably also like AJAXterm, which can give you a webpage-based shell. It works well with GNU screen. It's nice for workplaces that block SSH but have an HTTPS proxy. Can't find a definitive webpage for it, but it's not too hard to set up from the debian repository. But it does seem to work a bit better than Mindterm (the Java ssh client from the 90's).

    For mobile phone use, I've been fairly content with the java MIDPSSH [xk72.com]. Unless your smartphone has a native ssh client, of course.

  • Searching for this capability a couple of weeks ago turned up carde, a project with similar goals. Nothing released yet, but they mention RDP as well as VNC, supported via an Apache httpd module.

    http://code.google.com/p/carde/ [google.com]

  • So it'll be slow as hell? Perfect! *ducks*
    • So it'll be slow as hell? Perfect! *ducks*

      So true! VNC no matter the "flavor" (tightVNC, ChickenoftheVNC,etc) is painfully slow compared to others I use such as Windows Remote Desktop or Citrix. The latest version of Windows 7 Remote Desktop is fantastic in features and speed.

  • The client (read:web browser) doesn't need Java installed. That's about it.

    If you have Java installed on your machine you can run a Java-based VNC client. The Java-based VNC client could be stored on a web server. So the benefits of cross-platform compatibility or use-anywhere accessibility aren't new or unique to the HTML5 client.

    But you don't need Java. But you do need an HTML5 capable browser. Both solutions require you install an application of some kind. But everyone has a browser, you say. Well, HTML5

    • by Lennie (16154)

      You talk about HTML5, but it just needs part of the canvas spec. that's it. It doesn't need all features. I haven't checked but I wouldn't be surprised if every current browser except for IE already has that.

  • Name? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaFallus (805248) on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @01:52PM (#32101772)
    Why do so many open source projects have the dumbest names? Whats next? Ketchup? Towel? Come on guys, put the bowl down for five minutes and come up with a name that isn't related to the munchies in front of you or the stains on your shirt.
    • Re:Name? (Score:5, Funny)

      by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:13PM (#32102156) Homepage Journal

      Dude, your username is DaFallus.

    • Re:Name? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheQuantumShift (175338) <monkeyknifefight@internationalwaters.com> on Wednesday May 05, 2010 @02:35PM (#32102474) Homepage
      Would you prefer "Remote Access Desktop Professional Ultimate - Browser Edition 9 (SP4)"

      Of course there is a happy medium, descriptive plays on words and acronyms (Rhythmbox, Gnumeric, Gedit, etc.) But why not have totally off the wall names like Pidgin, Gimp, Bluefish, etc. It makes things distinctive. Open source is about having fun (usually) so why box it in?
      • by deander2 (26173) *

        "RADPU-BE" sounds pretty decent to me!!! =P

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AK Marc (707885)
        I had an IT director that required I buy a Microsoft server and setup RADIUS on it because he refused to buy something called Steel-Belted RADIUS from Funk Software. His business excuse was that he'd never heard of "Funk" and didn't trust them to be able to give support because it's got a stupid name.

        So, what's in a name? Geeks think it's cute, and the people with the buying power pass it over, that's what.

        Though if done again now, he'd probably spring for it, since it's now Juniper and not Funk.
      • by forkazoo (138186)

        Would you prefer "Remote Access Desktop Professional Ultimate - Browser Edition 9 (SP4)"

        Given all the use of XML and Javascript, and how some of us still consider normal client apps to be a valid solution to some problems, I would propose a slightly different name which would be extremely useful and self-descriptive...

        Internetwork Remote Access -- Professional Edition

        I RAPE.

      • Pidgin is actually a very sensible name [wikipedia.org]. From Wikipedia: A pidgin language is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common.

    • by migla (1099771)

      I don't know about what other peoples motivations may be, but I'd name a project something silly just to fuck with people who think marketing is cool. The name doesn't matter for the merits of the project and truth, not made up manipulative shit, is what should make the world go round. Fuck marketing.

  • Didn't VNC used to come with the ability to go to host:5900 or :5800 (whichever isn't the default) with a browser and get a Java viewer, like, forever ago?

  • Why we use Logmein is because we can tunnel through the firewall and do remote support even if the person standing at the terminal at the other end is a non tech. They just go to a website, download the Logmein Rescue installer, we can log in, and after the session is over the program deletes itself.

    The only problem is that we can only use it from Windows and only on Windows and Macs. That leaves clients who would like to use BSD or Linux out in the cold.

  • I understand why you'd want to develop apps natively for the browser. I understand why you'd sometimes want native apps.

    But this really seems odd. Why would I ever want to do this from anything other than a native VNC app? KRDC already has a tabbed interface anyway. The only place this seems useful is if you want remote access to your desktop from any random, untrusted terminal, which is a bad idea to begin with.

  • I was disappointed to not find an appropriate car analogy while skimming the comments. Almost as fast as VNC sounds like an auto manufacturer hyping up their new model by claiming that it's almost as fast as a Yugo.
    I'm sure it was at least non-obvious and a good project to work on though.

  • by MikeFM (12491)
    It'd be awesome if they could implement a SPICE client this way.

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