OS/2, eCS & ArcaOS - Technical > Virtualization

AToF - 02 - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS

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In the AToF platform build, the HostOS is either x64 Windows (10 or 11, pro or enterprise) or x64 Linux. It provides all the connectivity to platform resources (filesystems, networking, security, x64 apps) and the outside world (internet), and feeds those to the VM's, one of which can be ArcaOS.

x64 Windows might be your HostOS on AToF (or a VM), and if it is, how do we get x64 apps from the HostOS served up to any VM?

Winflector is an excellent program from a great company in Poland, that provides remote *application* access (a single app in a single window), unlike typical "remote access" software (VNC, RDP) providing access to entire "desktops", wherein you have to navigate to a single app. In other words, you'll have 64-bit notepad++ running in it's own window on your ArcaOS desktop, as easily accessible as all your other OS/2 programs.

A winflector "server" runs on the HostOS (or a VM), and a Winflector "client" (a very thin app) runs on the VM to access any apps being served up by the server component. There are very small client apps for most any OS (windows, linux x32 & x64, mac, etc.), and, they have an HTML5 client for any os where there isn't a dedicated client yet available, or where you choose to get at things via a browser.

For ArcaOS, the standard Firefox browser provided in the build does indeed work (as demonstrated at Warpstock 2023), and this is how we get x64 apps onto the ArcaOS desktop, in a single PM window. Any such app would also be able to access the "common filesystem" provided by VM Guest Additions.

Winflector is at:  https://www.winflector.com/
They have a two-seat version of their software that is free. This means at any one time, up to two devices (two VM's) can be accessing a 64-bit app. Or, you can buy a multi-seat version, depending on your needs. Again, Winflector is a great company that deserves our collective support ... tell your friends about them!

For ArcaOS in particular, running in a VM on AToF, it now has access to all the other services provided by the HostOS, such as networking (even wifi), filesystems (NTFS, etc.), and more. Even an x64 app, via Winflector, will show up on the desktop!

Now, a browser window is not quite the same as a dedicated winflector client window. Luckily, with Winflector's linux clients (x32, x64), it should be more straightforward to port that existing linux x32 client directly to ArcaOS. I've asked Lewis R. of ArcaOS while at Warpstock 2023, to engage with the Winflector folks, as he has all the details of OS/2 "seats" (ArcaOS, EComStation, Warp), to help "sell" the port and help Winflector guage the opportunity. If it makes sense, we could send an ArcaOS license & a VM pre-built with the right dev environment to the Winflector folks, as further inducement to port their client to OS/2.

I've also offered to "buy" the ArcaOS license (commercial edition) for Winflector, just to help jumpstart all this. I don't yet have Lewis' email to follow up on this, but hopefully, something is in the works already, or will be shortly! Such an OS/2 Client from Winflector would be an improvement over the HTML5 client, as the x64 app window on the ArcaOS desktop would be even cleaner and easier to work with.

So, Winflector is a big component of getting x64 apps to the ArcaOS desktop, from your AToF HostOS running a lean and mean Windows. If you instead use Linux as the HostOS, Winflector isn't necessary, as X-Windows will most likely be all you need to serve up x64 apps.

Martin Iturbide:
Hello JT

I know that you like WinReflector, but I was wondering if it does the same as FreeRDP, so  you can run a Windows application from a Windows Machine on the network on the ArcaOS desktop.

I don't have experience with it, but here is the URL just in case: http://os2.snc.ru/product-freerdp.html
Maybe you can also try it out and see the differences.


Any RDP (or VNC) app is most likely going to serve up "the whole desktop" of the remote machine; they will use RDP/VNC protocols to do that. There is nothing wrong with this, and is the way it's been done for years (decades) ... however, once you pop open that "whole desktop", you'll need to navigate within it to get at the single app you might want. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the IMAGES of a FreeRDP session (on their website) is indeed showing "the whole desktop" at the other end.

Winflector serves up just a single app, in a single window on the receiving machine. It does this with their own protocol, so no "entire desktop" required. Pick the app you want from Winflector, and you're done, with no further navigation.

If your need is to get at the entire desktop of a "remote machine", then an RDP app like FreeRDP is very appropriate! If you only need one app on your ArcaOS desktop, then perhaps Winflector is the better choice. It's good to have more options!

Microsoft has a complex enterprise solution that also serves up a single app into a single window on the receiving machine, but they only support modern Windows clients, and MacOS (plus, there is the enterprise setup effort). Winflector does what the MS solution does, only way more simply, and supports way more clients. It's super simple to setup, and support many more client types than MS does.

So, Winflector is very lightweight, and it makes it look like the x64 app served from Windows is truly running on your desktop as a single window.

Hope that helps explain the differences!

Note that the AToF solution means that, both FreeRDP and Winflector will no longer require a "separate machine" on a physical network, as the target machine of FreeRDP or Winflector can just be in a parallel VM (or the HostOS). Saves a machine, unless you really want the alternative. Who knows how folks will use the technology!

Per E. Johannessen:
To me it looks like it runs a single win-program, Firefox, on the OS/2 desktop.
Third picture, second row at http://os2.snc.ru/product-freerdp.html

If FreeRDP does do a single app into a single window, again, that's great ... more choices for everyone. Both would be "free" solutions to the problem, with different implementation steps.

When I dig into the FreeRDP docs, it's tough to pick out that functionality, whereas everything else in there speaks volumes about entire desktops. I couldn't determine for myself from that single pic that Per points out, as resolution was low (for my eyes). Definitely needs more testing ... the FreeRDP client exists right now.

Winflector explicitly shows in their docs how to point the server at a single app, and then pick that app out at the other end, and get the single app running in a single window.

I still greatly appreciate the Digi developers for porting FreeRDP, RDesktop, and VNC ...


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