Free Remote KDE Desktops from offers free remote KDE desktops over NX. Anyone can sign up to have their own desktop accessible from any computer with a network connection. CosmoPOP uses KDE's Kiosk framework to ensure security for their system. To find out more about the service and why KDE was the chosen desktop, KDE Dot News spoke to the man behind CosmoPOD, Stephen Ensor. Read on for the interview.

The KDE desktop on CosmoPOD

What services does offer? is a personal online desktop that offers 1GB of online storage, one may run on any computer that is connected to the internet and may do all the common tasks a modern desktop has to offer. My long term vision for CosmoPOD is: one day you will walk through an airport or tube station and touch a public screen it will log you in instantly via your fingerprints and in a wink you will be on your full screen easy to use desktop, a little later your cell phone will bling and you can call up a mobile version of your same desktop and check your email IM etc. Users won't have a constant stream of popups telling them to update their systems and applications and security will be all there and up to date, if a next big thing app hits the market it will already be there for the users.

How did you get the idea for this?

I was playing with many different Linux distros for a while and was contracting at the time in London, I was e-mailing many documents between work and home and I found myself duplicating a lot of work because of the different versions. I thought a central remote desktop that I could access from anywhere would be the answer. I also recalled arriving in London and e-mailing files back and forth and trying to edit them on the internet café's computers was a nightmare. So I really wanted it for myself and thought it would be really cool if anyone in the world could have one free too. I also thought with security becoming such a big issue and most normal users just don't know how to keep their systems secure, people would want a secure place to store and do their office related work.

How many people are currently using cosmopod on a frequent basis?

Per day I get around 150 people coming on and off their desktops, around 30 new registrations, about 300 visitors to my website and serve up about 200,000 Google ads. All this has been gaining good speed and I expect this to pick up quite a lot when I start a marketing drive.

Why did you choose KDE?

Funny you ask I was actually looking to use Gnome first but after much reading and testing I found KDE to be snappier and have a smaller memory footprint, the supporting applications were mature and well integrated and Konqueror was great! But the tipping point came when I started to look into lockdown features, KDE became the clear winner with the Kiosk Admin Tool. There are a few things I would still like a fast KDE start up and KOffice is not as feature full yet as OpenOffice (which runs too slowly and takes up too much memory to be used) so that is the trade off there.

What applications does CosmoPOD's KDE offer?

CosmoPOD offers all the applications a modern desktop required, a MS compatible office suite, e-mail, browser, IM, html editors, games etc. I generally install any applications I get e-mailed by users if they are not the same as ones already installed. I don't want 5 IM clients for example.

What changes does cosmopod's set up have over a typical home user KDE setup?

The only difference is the lock down so that users cannot install their own applications and move the menus around, they also cannot access floppy and CD drives as this is now a networked desktop.

How easy was it to lock down the KDE install?

This was very easy once I discovered the Kiosk Admin Tool, installed it and it makes it pretty clear what is going on in a nice GUI, there are still a few problems with configuring the menus on different distros but otherwise it makes things very easy especially the way it handles users and groups.

Have you had any feedback on experiences of non-KDE users on this KDE desktop?

Yes and no. People are always very happy with the service and it's been great having such keen feedback, I don't get much discussion from the users regarding what technology is being used. They are generally non-techie and just use it and the applications on it. I think locking stuff up helps so the users don't remove their taskbars, menus and buttons, KDE is great in that the K applications are quick and well integrated into the desktop. I try and keep application choice down to a minimum so as not to confuse users and have a few ideas to simplify things further in the future.

How do you pay for the service?

I keep a bit of real estate on the right hand side of the screen where I serve up Google ads soon to be based on what the user is reading similar to Gmail. Before I started with setting up the service i did many spreadsheets and forecasts to see if the model held and it does quite well, I don't yet have the contextual thing going yet but it is in the pipe line. We are also exploring putting branding images inside windows and menus.

What sort of hardware does this run on?

Very standard and cheap x86, we are looking into renting processing power as there are certain times when we spike but that is a while away.

Dot Categories: 


by Ambrose Bierce (not verified)

Ah, but you see, it is not my printer I am speaking of. What antics I'm willing to perform on the firewall settings on my personal computer is one thing. Quite another is what would be sensible to offer at a publically accessible Internet kiosk.

by Corbin (not verified)

If the Kiosk features an NX client, and also has a printer (how many have printers???), then they it most likely will be able to print. I've never tried to use the printing feature (don't have one anymore), but most likely it will become easier with time (if its not already brain dead simple).

Also you wouldn't have to adjust the firewall settings (everything can be tunnelled through SSH).

by Ambrose Bierce (not verified)

You are restating my original argument - I cannot print useful items while on the move from a secured thin client. It is highly unlikely that you will come across a kiosk with the necessary features:
a) an NX client - this is solvable with the NX-applet, but does require a Java-enabled browser with the correct version at the kiosk.
b) an SMB/CUPS service running on the kiosk to include the local printer, which is then shared with the NX-server - which as described is fairly locked down.
c) SSH on the kiosk.

by cm (not verified)

If I understand NX correctly there are quite a few points that you got wrong.

A Java-enabled browser, a kiosk setup that allows outgoing connections to port 22 and a printer that is accessible to the *local* machine should be enough.

a) The NX client applet opens an ssh-encrypted connection to the server.
b) The NX server forwards the printing request through that very connection to the client.
c) The NX *client* does the printing locally. No printer is "shared [directly] with the NX-server", no lockdown or firewall comes into play.

(To the people in-the-know: Please someone correct me if any of this is wrong.)

Of course, if the kiosk doesn't have any printer you're out of luck, but that would hardly be a problem specific to NX. :)

One potential issue: Are java applets allowed to print in a normal setup / has a regular user the right to allow that?

by wannabe using ..... (not verified)


by Jason Keirstead (not verified)

Tried out the product. I think this is a novel idea and it may really take off. Here are a few of my simple suggestions.

- Add Firefox. Konqueror is great, but it still has problems on some pages.

- Add OpenOffice. Same reason as above for KOffice.

- Install the flash plugin. Sure, some people disllike flash, but it is needed for navigation on many sites nowadays.

- It would be *super* if you were allowed to use klik:// to install apps in your userspace. I don't see how this would really be a security problem either as long as the root filesystem has restrictive permissions.

- I wish I could use KControl to change some of my personal preferences (I hate the bouncy icon mouse cursor).

That is it for now. Best of luck with the software.

by ac (not verified)

As he indicated adding Firefox and OO.o would increase memory usage which would mean more investment into RAM for them per user. Maybe they should instead invest that money into streamlining the configuration and supporting specific improvements in Konqueror and KOffice.

by ac (not verified)

Whoever was it that said that Microsoft and Bill Gates don't care about KDE or the Dot website -- he was completely wrong. See here:

BillG. must have read this Dot article and acted promptly. ;-)

by Joe Sørensen (not verified)

Does anyone know a good guide they would recomend about building your one FreeNX server on the internet?

I this way we can use alle the programs we want from any computer, including the memory hungry programs like OOo and firefox.

by cm (not verified)

> I this way we can use alle the programs we want
> from any computer, including the memory hungry programs like OOo and firefox.

... and you keep control of your own data (this is *not* to imply anything bad about

by Roger Hiles (not verified) does not seem to be with us any longer. Has it moved, or does anyone know what happened?

by bakalao jones (not verified)

WHOIS Search Results for: COSMOPOD.COM

The data contained in Go Daddy Software, Inc.'s WHOIS database,
while believed by the company to be reliable, is provided "as is"
with no guarantee or warranties regarding its accuracy. This
information is provided for the sole purpose of assisting you
in obtaining information about domain name registration records.
Any use of this data for any other purpose is expressly forbidden without the prior written
permission of Go Daddy Software, Inc. By submitting an inquiry,
you agree to these terms of usage and limitations of warranty. In particular,
you agree not to use this data to allow, enable, or otherwise make possible,
dissemination or collection of this data, in part or in its entirety, for any
purpose, such as the transmission of unsolicited advertising and
solicitations of any kind, including spam. You further agree
not to use this data to enable high volume, automated or robotic electronic
processes designed to collect or compile this data for any purpose,
including mining this data for your own personal or commercial purposes.

Please note: the registrant of the domain name is specified
in the "registrant" field. In most cases, Go Daddy Software, Inc.
is not the registrant of domain names listed in this database.

stephen ensor
57 winterfold close
london sw19 6le
United Kingdom

Registered through: (
Created on: 26-Aug-04
Expires on: 26-Aug-06
Last Updated on: 20-Jul-05

Administrative Contact:
ensor, stephen [email protected]
57 winterfold close
london sw19 6le
United Kingdom
Technical Contact:
ensor, stephen [email protected]
57 winterfold close
london sw19 6le
United Kingdom

Domain servers in listed order:

Registry Status: ACTIVE