Here is a short list of applications that can be used.
1) VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a remote display system which allows the user to view the desktop of a remote machine anywhere on the internet. It can also be directed through SSH for security.
Basically you install VNC server on the server and install client on your local PC. Setup is extremely easy and server is very stable. On client side, you can set the resolution and connect to IP of VNC server. It can be a bit slow compared to Windows remote desktop and also has the tendency to take more time refreshing over low-bandwidth links. All in all VNC is an amazing piece of free software that gets the job done.
There is RealVNC , TightVNC and UltraVNC. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Most popular one is RealVNC but if you’re upto it, experiment with all three and choose the one that works for you best. By default, communication between client and server is in clear text on port 5900. However, you can easily route all traffic via SSH tunnel. Here is a quick way of setting it up if you have access to command line shell:
ssh -ND 5900 <user>@remote.server.com
When you get prompted, enter your password. Pop open VNC client and connect to ‘localhost’. This’ll route your connection to VNC server on remote machine.
You can download VNC from:
2) Then there is FreeNX. FreeNX is a system that allows you to access your desktop from another machine over the internet. You can use this to login graphically to your desktop from a remote location. One example of its use would be to have a FreeNX server set up on your home computer, and graphically logging in to the home computer from your work computer, using a FreeNX client. It provides near local speed application responsiveness over high latency, low bandwidth links.
FreeNX can be configured to run via SSH without any tunneling. It binds to your existing SSH install. Instead of guiding you through the installation of FreeNX in this article, you can visit the following URLs that’ll guide you through the installation on Ubuntu:
- http://freenx.berlios.de/ (FreeNX homepage)
3) The third free application is 2X Terminal Server for Linux.
2X TerminalServer for Linux is an Open Source project, licensed under the GPL and is free of charge. As far as performance goes, NoMachine’s technology is on par with Windows’ own Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) suite, better than VNC. Both X2 and FreeNX is based on NoMachine technology.
Here are some quick links if you’re interested in using this software:
- Download at http://www.2x.com/terminalserver/download.htm
- Forum is at http://www.2x.com/forums
4) The last but not least at all is XDMCP. The X Display Manager Control Protocol uses UDP port 177. Compared to the list above, it’s not as easy to setup for remote desktop but it’s the original way of doing this on Linux. You can get setup instructions and other tips in the following URL:
In conclusion, there are many commercial products that are available as well. But this article is only based on open source products that can be freely used with no strings attached.