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This is not a tenable proposition unless the data is relatively small and static, unless the network is very fast, and unless the Open GL application is specifically tuned for a remote X-Windows environment.
With Virtual GL, the Open GL commands and 3D data are instead redirected to a 3D graphics accelerator on the application server, and only the rendered 3D images are sent to the client machine.
However, if it were really as simple as that, we could all turn out the lights and go home.
Most of the time spent developing Virtual GL has been spent working around “stupid application tricks.” Virtual GL can currently use one of three “image transports” to send rendered 3D images to the client machine: The VGL Image Transport is most often used whenever the 2D X server (the X server used to draw the application’s GUI and transmit keyboard and mouse events back to the application server) is located across the network from the application server, for instance if the 2D X server is running on the user’s desktop machine.
They appear to the application as a normal X server, but they perform X11 rendering to a virtual framebuffer in main memory rather than to a real framebuffer on a graphics card.
Whenever the application swaps or flushes the drawing buffer to indicate that it has finished rendering a frame, Virtual GL reads back the Pbuffer and sends the rendered 3D image to the client.This is most useful in conjunction with an “X Proxy”, which can be one of any number of Unix remote display applications, such as VNC.