Author Topic: AToF - 02 - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS  (Read 6229 times)

JTA

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AToF - 02 - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« on: December 06, 2023, 05:01:56 pm »
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.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2023, 05:01:37 pm by JTA »

Martin Iturbide

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2023, 02:05:26 am »
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.

Regards
Martin Iturbide
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JTA

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2023, 02:47:17 am »
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

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2023, 03:10:08 am »
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

JTA

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2023, 06:22:46 am »
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 ...

ivan

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2023, 10:23:10 am »
From what I am reading it appears that you assume that we all have windows on our computers - I don't.  The only version of windows in my house is the very cut down version in my Data Logger.  I also have Linux Mint on a couple of my computers that I operate via a hdmi usb kvm switch which has served me very well over the years.
The fact I build all my computers from components means that I don't pay the win tax.

Alfredo Fernández Díaz

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2023, 01:20:47 pm »
Hi,
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[...]
Yes, the OS/2 FreeRDP documentation is a bit poor in the sense that it assumes you already know what the whole FreeRDP thing is about, and just goes on about the OS/2 port specifics, which OTOH look very OS/2-like (and in turn that is obviously a good thing).

The www.freerdp.com site itself is also poor in documentation at first sight, and again you need to rely on a single "RemoteApp" screenshot  to infer that running single remote applications windowed is indeed possible:


Wikipedia helps us out here, though, and this kind of explains why such an obviously useful feature (windowed remote applications) is not overly emphasized in the documentation:
Features
    [...]
    Audio Redirection allows users to process audio on a remote desktop and have the sound redirected to their local computer.
    File System Redirection allows users to use their local files on a remote desktop within the terminal session.
    Printer Redirection allows users to use their local printer within the terminal session as they would with a locally- or network-shared printer.
    [...]
    The remote computer and the local computer can share the clipboard.[...]

Microsoft introduced the following features with the release of RDP 6.0 in 2006:

    Seamless Windows: remote applications can run on a client machine that is served by a Remote Desktop connection. It is available since RDP 6.[30]
--it would all apparently date back to 2006, so hardly something new.

Don't get me wrong, though -- I only learned all of this last week when trying to help out a fellow warper -- for me VNC has been sufficient so far.

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.
Well, this is clearly a commercial application so it is only natural that they are more focused on --and push-- obvious selling points. : )

Perhaps it would be most helpful for us here to be able to pick a best fitting application of this kind if informed folks could help build a prerequisites and features comparison table.

At a first glance, I would mention that VNC has native servers available for (many?) non-Windows platforms too (which allows to remotely run non-Windows programs too), that RDP allows for windowed applications and seemingly transmits audio as well (which is great for multimedia stuff), and that Winflector apparently serves to any HTML5 capable browser (which potentially widens a lot where you can run stuff from), but I am not really informed and something more systematic would be preferable.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2023, 01:28:43 pm by Alfredo Fernández Díaz »

JTA

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2023, 02:11:57 pm »
Nice write-up, Alfredo ... your pic does a better job of displaying the "remoteapp" part of things.

I've installed FreeRDP, sorted out dependencies, and can display a desktop from a Win VM. What I expected, and works well. When I try to fiddle with the remoteapp tab of FreeRDP, there are apparently some additional cfg steps (tweaks?) required ... from what I can find on the 'net so far, we might need some registry settings, and some .rdp cfg file rework. There might also be some github utilities that do the heavy lifting for us.

You have it running, so do you recall or have noted exactly what those steps are?

In the meantime, I can report that Winflector is easy, uses their own protocol instead of RDP, and it is indeed mere minutes to download their free version and immediately serve up apps; all without other RDP oddities imposed by Microsoft. For Winflector, it's: 1.) install the server 2.) add a user 3.) add an app. At the other end, launch the client, point it at the Winflector IP address, login, and pick the app ... done.

So, more digging and testing, to get FreeRDP to the point where it displays the apps seamlessly in a window, unless someone else has the cycles to document it (or point me at an old thread).

Thanks again!

JTA

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2023, 02:21:16 pm »
From what I am reading it appears that you assume that we all have windows on our computers - I don't.  ... The fact I build all my computers from components means that I don't pay the win tax.

Actually, I don't assume Windows-only, as the AToF build (the bottom thread in this Virtualization category) clearly states either Windows or Linux as a HostOS, and other paths to getting things done fall out of that initial choice.

Clearly, one can have an all Linux (or non-Windows) solution ... I hope I threw enough wording in all my threads to point that out.

It's good to see how everyone does something in these and other forums, so one has more options to pick from ...

JTA

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2023, 04:33:57 pm »
Using the "tools in a toolbox" analogy, you can have both of these tools (Winflector and FreeRDP) in your toolbox, ready to grab to do whatever.

Assuming you have an AToF build (you do, right?), your HostOS shows virtualbox running, and these vm's loaded:
  - wp10o1 (windows 10 pro, ameloriated): has standard complement of win stuff
  - aos510o1 (ArcaOS 5.1.0): has standard complement of os/2 stuff
Both have been bridged to the HostOS network, and everything can ping everything else, and the outside world.

On aos510o1, we don't have access to x64 apps, and we want them. So, open your toolbox, and grab:
  - winflector:
    - install server on wp10o1, add user, add app(s)
    - on aos510o1, point firefox browser at wp10o1, login, and use the x64 app
    - wp10o1 desktop still available in the VM
  - FreeRDP:
    - install FreeRDP on aos510o1, drag copy to desktop, configure (point it at wp10o1)
    - launch the configured copy, and you'll see the entire wp10o1 desktop (navigate to your x64 app)
    - it (RDP on Win side) logged me out of the wp10o1 desktop, but perhaps there's a tweak

So, out of the box, both Winflector and FreeRDP can be used fairly quickly and easily to get at x64 apps. As expected, an RDP client (FreeRDP in this case, native for OS/2) will display your remote Windows desktop. Both "tools" work just fine, and we didn't need a room full of networking gear and physical boxes ... this is all happening on your dt/lt via AToF.

What if you want just an x64 app in a single window, using the FreeRDP client? Well, apparently this too will work, but you'll get off into the weeds, so ... some assembly required:
  - The FreeRDP docs are not "polished", so you'll do lots of digging to try and figure out how to set up a single connection to a single app. I couldn't find it in the docs, and the "user guide" doesn't have a straightforward "do these 2 things and done". It's google time ...
  - google does indeed report lots of folks doing lots of things to get this setup. I found registry edits, .rdp config files, and in some cases, helpful utilities that will push the buttons for me.
  - lots of testing in my future, some slight chance of death (of the vm's)

OK, so that's not a problem ... we can probably get to a set of steps. In the tool analogy, it'll be a case of pulling out the FreeRDP hammer, or the FreeRDP router. If you pull out the FreeRDP router from your toolbox, and you are anything at all like me, you'll spend the next few hours configuring all the router attachments to get it to route a shape you want. Not the same as pulling out the winflector saw, and cutting away. But, still possible ...

In the meantime, I recommend either Winflector, or FreeRDP (desktop mode). It's your choice as to what tools you grab, and what you do with them ...

Alfredo Fernández Díaz

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Re: AToF - Platform Build - serving up x64 apps to ArcaOS
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2023, 09:15:27 pm »
Nice write-up, Alfredo ... your pic does a better job of displaying the "remoteapp" part of things.

Thank you for your presentation at warpstock -- it really made me start 'moving' again... : )

That's not my pic, however; that one came straight from the official FreeRDP site. I'm not really a regular here so not overly familiar with the BBcode in the forum -- my bad that I didn't make the pic source more apparent.

Quote
I've installed FreeRDP, sorted out dependencies, and can display a desktop from a Win VM. What I expected, and works well. When I try to fiddle with the remoteapp tab of FreeRDP, there are apparently some additional cfg steps (tweaks?) required ... from what I can find on the 'net so far, we might need some registry settings, and some .rdp cfg file rework. There might also be some github utilities that do the heavy lifting for us.

You have it running, so do you recall or have noted exactly what those steps are?

Sorry but I don't have it really running. I just got a warper friend to run it a couple of days ago as a proof of concept, and it seemed to work with some simple base applications (notepad, etc.) but I haven't had the time to fiddle much with this, or bump into much myself yet. Given my current (lack of) experience and time, you probably may get better information about 'advanced' remote application parameters (or quirks) by looking at the script included with FreeRDP/2 to run Word, as I would assume that is likely just about the one application that will make things the most difficult for 'outsiders' ; )

Edit: one thing I can definitely say is, before giving up, or considering your FreeRDP (or RDesktop) client connections done, is turn on the connection console for them -- so you can have a clue what your connection problems, if any, are. This you can do from the object context menu, as I can't seem to find a checkbox or other setting for that in the properties notebook now.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2023, 09:54:28 pm by Alfredo Fernández Díaz »