FreeNX Setup HowTo
on Debian Sarge

Attention: This howto is completely outdated and archived here for historic reasons.

You may want to have a look at x2go instead.


Nomachine Site
FreeNX Site
Client Download
$Id: freenx-setup-howto.html,v 1.16 2011-05-02 11:50:20 obiwan Exp $

FreeNX is the Opensource Variant of NX !Machine (read: NX Nomachine). The NX framework uses a unique compression and caching strategy and algorithm. This way provides the currently best experienced remote performance for sessions running over XDMCP, RDP or VNC. This means the NX system can also be used to securely and performant tunnel RDP connections over the internet to your internal Microsoft Terminal Server.

Target Audience

In this HowTo we will exactly describe how you will be installing and configuring FreeNX from source. This means if you're just looking for an excellent product to accelerate and secure your remote connections, you might better be server wit NXs !Machine, please see here for detailed product descriptions.

If you feel comfortable compiling software on your Linux box, go ahead, you're only a few minutes away from a running FreeNX installation on your System.

This HowTo is geared towards users of Debian Linux. While the instructions given may work on other Debian Based Systems like Ubuntu too, it is nothing we have tested.


You will need a Debian Box, there are no special performance requirements for NX. Just an installed and working Debian Sarge Linux, preferrably with X-Windows installed and configured if you want to run your Sessions to this server.

Installation and Configuration

Install packages needed to compile FreeNX:

apt-get install cdbs autotools-dev patchutils autoconf bzip2 zlib1g-dev libpng12-dev \
 libjpeg62-dev xlibs-dev libfreetype6-dev libmikmod2-dev libssl-dev libxaw7-dev \
 build-essential fakeroot debhelper automake1.4 dpatch expect tcl8.4 xutils netcat xfonts-base

Add the following to your /etc/apt/source.lst for FreeNX sources:

deb-src stable-backports nx

Compiling and Installation of FreeNX

Create a directory to hold the sources and as working dir to compile the software (maybe anywhere, but preferrably under /usr/src):

cd /usr/src; mkdir nx; cd nx

Fetch the sources with apt-get:

apt-get update && apt-get source nx freenx

Change into the working directory and compile the NX part:

cd nx-1.4.92+1.5.0
fakeroot dpkg-buildpackage -b

Install the created packages (sudo is only needed if you're not working as user root):

cd ..; sudo dpkg -i *.deb

Compile FreeNX..

cd freenx-0.4.4+0.4.5/; fakeroot dpkg-buildpackage -b

..and install the resulting packages(again, sudo is only needed if you're not root):

cd ..; sudo dpkg -i freenx_0.4.4+0.4.5-2sarge1_all.deb

Selecting SSH Keys

Now select which type of SSH keys you would like to have installed, the most straightforward way would be to use the keys supplied with the Nomachine Client. However if you want improved Security and privacy, you might want to consider creating your own keys.

Getting a Client

Since the currenlty from Nomachine available 2.x Clients are not working with the FreeNX version 0.44 you just installed, you will need version 1.5x Client. Unfortunately Nomachine has decided to remove the older client versions from their Website so you need to search Google for a client download somewhere, below are some proposal queries for Google which should get you started:

If you can't find the client you need, you may download one from our website. Please note, that we haven't received all of those binaries from Nomachine and they are not guaranteed to work, we just supply them here for availability:

If you have other builds of 1.50 clients, please contact the Author at cschnee_at_telemedia_ch .

Alternative NX

An Alternative way to get FreeNX installed is to use the precompiled binaries or the source from 2x.


About the Author

Christoph Schneeberger is a Unix System Engineer with over 15 years of experience. He may be contacted at cschnee_at_telemedia_ch.

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