Chapter 8. Using Cross-Platform Remote Graphical Desktops

8.0. Introduction

Tunneling X over SSH (covered in the previous chapter) is one good way to run a remote graphical desktop. Like everything else, the Linux world has several good variations on the same theme. In this chapter, we’ll look at some more programs for running remote graphical desktops in different ways, such as cross-platform networking and remote helpdesk work. It’s a lot easier to take control of a user’s computer remotely and fix problems than to talk a poor user through a diagnosis and repair over the telephone. (I’m still puzzled at how anyone ever thought that was a good idea.)

The Linux world offers several ways to get a remote graphical desktop with decent performance, and across different platforms, especially Linux and Windows. In this chapter, we’ll look at three different applications: rdesktop, FreeNX, and VNC.


rdesktop is a Linux client that uses the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to connect to Windows Terminal Services on Windows NT/2000/2003 servers, and Remote Desktop Connection on Windows XP Pro. rdesktop can attach to an existing session or start a new one.


FreeNX runs graphical desktops over low-speed, high-latency connections (e.g., dial-up) at satisfying speeds. So far, it is for logging in to Linux boxes only, from Linux , Windows, Solaris, and Mac OS X clients. It has built-in encryption, and lets you configure any desktop or window manager to use for the remote session. It supports ...

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