Remote desktops

While everyone knows the best way to do remote access is SSH, sometimes it’s nice (and even necessary) to have access to an entire desktop.

Maybe you need to show Auntie Ethel how to change her desktop background, or how to get nmap to make a diagram of a rival knitting circle’s network.

This surfeit of graphics data presents a problem, especially for the bandwidth-challenged, which a number of technologies aim to solve. Linux favours the VNC protocol, while Windows favours the largely-closed source Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

There’s nothing OS-specific about either of these though. They both work directly on the framebuffer, so the underlying technology works equally well on Windows or Linux. The NX protocol used in NoMachine NX challenges both of these with advanced compression and latency reducing tricks which in Linux work on the X protocol directly (or the RDP protocol in Windows).

Since 2010 though, the client has been closed source and while once a number of projects aimed to provide open source NX solutions, development of these has largely fallen by the wayside, with the exception being X2Go . The Chrome Remote Desktop app is still in beta, but will already be of interest to some.

Ease of use

Is it easy to install and navigate?

Finding a distribution for which a Remmina package doesn’t exist is unlikely as it’s rather popular. To get VNC functionality in Remmina requires libvncserver to be installed, but most distros will sort this out for you. On Arch Linux this package was listed as an optional dependency and needed to be installed manually.

Despite the plethora of options everything in Remmina is laid out intuitively, so a straightforward connection is straightforward to set up. TigerVNC , on the other hand, can be rather tricky to locate packages for. Many distros, including Debian and Ubuntu, have opted for the older, and differing by two letters, TightVNC .

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