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FreeNX is a server that allows remote graphical access to Unix systems in the Design Center in a secure and bandwidth efficient way. (It'll even work over a modem)



Server Availability

  • Can be used to access Linux remotely.
  • For remote access to Windows, see this page.
  • For remote access to OS X, see this page.

Client Availability

  • Windows
  • OS X
  • Linux


On the machine from which you wish to connect (ie, your home computer) you'll need to download the appropriate NX client for either:

  • Windows - (NOTE: You should also install the 75dpi font package on Windows)
  • OS X
  • Linux (Currently trying to locate older compatible binaries for Linux, ideally version 5.x)

NOTE: You want the client to match the OS you're running on the computer you're connecting from, not the computer you're connecting to.

Now install the client as you would any program on your client OS.

Critical First Step

IMPORTANT: Skipping this step will prevent you from accessing NX.

If you have never logged in to your Design Center UNIX account, please read the following very carefully.

When your account was created, it was set to force you to change your password on your first login. In this state, you will NOT be able to download the NX access key or login via NX, even if you enter your username and password correctly. You MUST first login either locally or via SSH to one of the Linux systems ( in the Design Center. After doing this and successfully changing your password, you will be able to use your username and new password to download the NX access key and login to NX via the steps below.

Ignoring the above will prevent you from accessing NX, even if you follow all the below steps exactly. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP


  • Download the connection file:
    • (NOTE: Login with your actual DC username, then enter your DC unix password to access and download this file)
  • Save the file somewhere easy to remember (like your Desktop or My Documents folder)
  • Double-click on the SCUDC-Linux.nxs file you saved
  • On your first connection, you will be prompted to trust the key of the NX server
  • Enter your DC unix username and password when prompted
  • If requested, select "<New virtual desktop or custom session>"
  • Select "Create new GNOME virtual desktop" and click "Continue" (You can also select "KDE" if you prefer it)
  • NX will display three help screens overlaid on top of the linux desktop, click OK on each to move on
  • When the desktop is displayed, it may be smaller than desired, simply resize the NX window to the size you want and wait for the Linux desktop to resize itself to match
    • If the display remains too small or cut off:
      • Put your mouse in the upper-right corner of the NX window (where the Linux date/time display is by default)
      • A small "edge of page folding down" animation will appear.
      • Click it.
      • Select "Display"
      • Click "Resize remote screen"
      • Click "Done" twice
      • The Linux desktop should now auto-size itself to fit in your NX window

Using Mentor Graphics (icstudio, etc.)

If you are running the NX client on an OS X system and find that Mentor Graphics applications like 'icstudio' crash when trying to view schematics, you are likely missing X11 core fonts.

(You can test this by running:

$ xlsfonts | wc -l

inside a terminal in the NX session. You should get back a number over 1100. If it's far less than that, you're missing fonts)

To resolve this issue, quit the NX client, then download and install XQuartz from here: Re-connect via NX and you should be good to go.


When using VCS on a Windows NX client, certain non-default client-side fonts are necessary. Not having these fonts installed leads to fonts in VCS showing up as boxes rather than letters.

To resolve this issue, simply download and install the client-side 75dpi fonts available above.

Using VMWare from an OS X nxclient session

If all your keys are scrambled when trying to use VMware inside an NX session from an OS X client, you can implement the following workaround. (Be sure VMware is *NOT* running before you do this)

echo "xkeymap.nokeycodeMap = true" >> ~/.vmware/config

Now re-run VMware and your keys should work correctly from inside your OS X nxclient session.

For the gritty technical details, see:


  • Suspending Sessions - It is currently possible to suspend your session by not logging out and just closing the NX window. This functionality will be disabled in future upgrades to FreeNX in the Design Center and suspended sessions will be subject to unnotified termination. Do NOT suspend sessions.
  • When connecting, any firewalling software you have running must allow the NX client to make outbound connections. It is up to you to figure out how to configure your firewall to do this. (Most pop-up a prompt when an unknown program tries to initiate an outbound connection)
  • When connecting to a host for the first time, you'll receive a message beginning: "The authenticity of host..." click "Yes" as this is your computer asking you if you want to trust the key you're getting from the host. From then on, the host you're connecting to will only be trusted if the key matches. Otherwise your system will assume there is a man in the middle attack going on and refuse to connect. This is a good thing as it ensures the cryptographic security of your connection.
  • If you get a "Connection Error" message when connecting, click the "Detail" button to see a log of errors. Some of the more common ones are listed below:
1. Bad ~/.cshrc
NX> 105 /opt/freenx-0.7.2/bin/../sol2.9-sun4u-64/bin/nxserver: line 849: 3646 Terminated sleep $AGENT_STARTUP_TIMEOUT
NX> 596 Session startup failed.
You're trying to connect to a Solaris host and have a malformed ~/.cshrc file. The simplest solution is to login to your unix account using telnet or ssh and run the command:
$ mv ~/.cshrc ~/cshrc-backup
2. Wrong key
NX> 202 Authenticating user: nx
You've not correctly imported the SCUDC NX key. Please check the directions above.

Further Information

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