WorkSpot: Linux on your Browser

As if by magic, a Java applet appears in the browser window: the screen of a live GNU/Linux desktop, your new private computer, sitting remotely on WorkSpot servers. Pretty neat, really.

How do they get Linux Desktop on your browser? Your GNU/Linux desktop is actually sitting on our servers in California, and the screen graphics are transported in real-time, to appear in a Java applet running within the web page. This applet is GPL, open source software: VNC (Virtual Network Computing), code formerly maintained by AT&T’s Cambridge laboratories. This lab has since closed, but, as is the nature of open software, the code lives on. We’re hoping that offering this service will provide Workspot funds to pay more open source developers, such as the good people involved with VNC, and therefore continually improve it for the public good.

Well, you can have Knoppix by just popping up a CD into your PC but for $9.95, you get to play with Linux and GNU software for a month. You don’t have to buy hardware, you don’t have to bug anyone. Their server configurations include: Red Hat 8 & Mandrake 9.1 remote desktops, Real-time collaborative desktop sharing, AES encryption, WebDAV file transfer, Native Mac, Linux and Windows clients, Email account, Ximian Evolution email client, Web hosting: html and cgi-bin from your workspot.

Great way to have access to a Linux desktop just about anywhere. Check out WorkSpot.

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  • Not so practical in my opinion. For a monthly ~USD10, here’s what people can get:
    1. AES encryption, not so good as the symmetric key is definitely passed to the client, which can be intercepted and renders your session to a possible MIM attack.
    2. the demo was not on HTTPS, hopefully the full version is on SSL. I would have preferred if the VNC protocol used by the applet tunnels through SSH or VPN. But then again, the full version might have these.
    3. VNC will be very sluggish on the Internet
    4. not so secure thinking that your actual “private” desktop sits on someone else’s server.

    If office work mobility is my goal, I’d rather stick to Knoppix, DSL or SLAX. If remote sysadmin is what I’m after at, I’d go for normal VPN+Telnet or SSH.