BIRCH - X terminal emulation
An X-terminal is a computer that can display windows from a remote Unix
server onto the local desktop. Th idea is that when programs with a
graphic interface run on a Unix server, the commands necessary to draw
the windows are sent to the terminal, and the terminal does the work of
drawing the windows.
Many people have
made large recent investments in PC hardware.
As well, most departments are full of older PCs that can no longer run
the latest software (eg. P400s that can't run Windows XP).
is usually not financially feasable to purchase a large number of NCs
For all these reasons, a number of
MS-Windows and/or Mac-based
programs allow a PC to act as an X-terminal.
Some of the plusses of X11 emulation software include:
There are some very good
reasons why X emulation software
is an interim fix, rather than a permanent
typically few hundred
- The software has been
around long enough to be pretty
reliable and easy to use and even install
- Even very old PCs will often
perform almost as quickly as an X-terminal. Also, the task of drawing
on a screen always remains about the same, so once an old PC works, it
should always work.
- typically includes
network transport protocols such as SLIP
and PPP , making it possible to run an X-windows
session over a modem from home.
The strategy should,
therefore, be to upgrade existing PCs
to X-terminals in the short term, and in the long term, buy new
rather than new PCs.
- You still have to keep MS-Windows working.
Any time you upgrade Windows, or install software, or monkey with the
networking software, on the PC or on the LAN server, you risk affecting
the X emulation program.
- X emulators aren't perfect.
Because the PC and Windows add a layer of complexity, there is never a
guarantee that the X11 software will be able to do everything that an X
terminal is supposed to do.
- If you are using a PC
with an X emulator, there is a temptation
to do some things on the X desktop, and some things on the PC. Thus,
fragment your files, keep on having to upload and download information,
you have less incentive to really learn how to use the X desktop, and
things more complex than if you stuck to one system.
Sources of PC X-emulation software:
Many of these vendors offer
free downloads of a trial
copy of the program.
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