Remote GUI for Ubuntu

charles_dilger
charles_dilger used Ask the Experts™
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OK, I finally got fed up enough with software costs for stuff running on windows that I've decided to move to Ubuntu Server for my small home network. I can find great open source versions of just about everything I want to do but I have one week spot, remote administration. Currently I run my windows bod mostly headless relying on RDP. I want to do the same on Ubuntu and I'm not talking remote shell. Before someone suggested it I want to full GUI remotely. I know I should learn all my shell commands but I'm not there yet and just want to work through the GUI for now.

I'm sure something can do this I'm just not sure what will give the best results. Also note this is all running local on a 1GbE lan so bandwidth is not a concern. I want the best functionality with minimal setup required client side (don't really mind setup on server side as much).
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Adrian CantrillSolutions Architect

Commented:
unix and linux by default support remote X displays... use something like exceed in addition to linux to connect. http://connectivity.opentext.com/products/exceed-products.aspx
Adrian CantrillSolutions Architect

Commented:
http://connectivity.opentext.com/products/exceed.aspx

using this method you can terminal in, and start the whole of Xwindows (or rather the window manager) or individual programs using the  -display parameter.
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Kerem ERSOYPresident

Commented:
Hi,

If you'll run remote session over WAN you should definitely go for VNC Server. While it handles the communication for low speed lines very well it has its own limitations.

So f you're connecting over your local LAN I'll suggest you to use an X server and redirect X session over SSH.

In that you establish an SSH session to your remote host with Redirect X enabled.

Then you'll setup an X server over your client such as XMing or CygWin and connect your session over them.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/xming/

Cheers,
K.
Adrian CantrillSolutions Architect

Commented:
The problem with VNC is its crappy dealing with screen updates, although i agree its better over low speed connections i hate the way its slow and laggy with interaction & desktop. for the LAN xserve is leagues better than VNC.

Commented:
While I personally usually use Xforwarding over ssh  (ssh -X ...)  or vnc over ssh, I have seen others recommend nomachine:

http://www.nomachine.com/download.php

Author

Commented:
Wow a lot of good ideas here. Forgive me if I need more explanation than most. It sounds like most of these options require I start with a ssh connection from something like putty I assume then load the remote GUI via one if these methods. Exceed seams like it would be the best performing option but the cost is very high. Software like that is why I left windows in the first place. I've used VNC from time to time foe various things in windows and I have to agree with the comments that it's too clunky for what I want.

Do these options being mentioned allow a single app to be accessed or will I be able to pull the entire ubuntu desktop I'm used to? What about sisions? If I leave an app running can I connect to that same session later to finishe what I was doing in that app?

I'm badicly looking for the windows remote desktop experience minus the windows part.
Adrian CantrillSolutions Architect
Commented:
if cost is an issue then http://www.straightrunning.com/XmingNotes/

essentially you connect via ssh and then start either the window manager you want, or startx with the -display option to redirect the input-output to your host (the one running the exceed or xming ) is like RDP only backwards.... if you get me.

You can do a single app i.e xterm -display hostname:0.0 or the window manager & thus the look and feel of your desktop.

Author

Commented:
Ahh Xming seams to be built on a similar foundation and unless I'm reading this wrong even had a built in ssh client making things that much easier on the client side. Since this just makes an ssh connection to the server is there anything I even need to loaf on the server at all? This looks like I just need the client. And since I assume you've used this can a resume s session after disconnect too?
Kerem ERSOYPresident

Commented:
Hi,

There are two groups of suggestions here. Some Suggest VNC but most people accepts its drawbacks and generally good for low speed WAN remote connections. What it does is simply sending out the display from the console.

The second gruop of suggestion is running an X server locally and redirect output over SSH to your local workstations. This is a very flexible usage. All the suggestions Xming, xserve, no machine are differently packaged X servers which offer easy installation.

It is possible to launch just one application or entire desktop or even running each application in a different window over your existing client. X is very flexible. But might require configuration. But programs like nomachine helps this configuration issue very much.

Cheers,
K.
Commented:
I had the same problem before.

I finished my searching with x2go.
http://www.ubuntugeek.com/x2go-open-source-terminal-server-project-alternative-to-freenx.html

I requires installing software on server and client side, but:
1. to connect it requires only ssh connection,
2. it is really fast, I used it through GPRS connection and it works smoothly,

rgds
rumi

Author

Commented:
I'm going to try both xming and x2go once I'm running. I have another problem holding me up. Ive used Ubunto before and decided to go with Ubunto Server expecting a similar GUI. I just installed it and got no GUI I'm trying to load one with another question open http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Linux/Q_26550230.html once I get my local GUI loaded I'll use these options to load the remote GUI. Feel free to comment of the other question if you think you can help.

Commented:
Another option that I just thought of is using virtual machines.  If you load the machine you connect to in a virtual machine (VMWare Server -- free), then you can connect through it's interface (browser?) to see the desktop and it is exactly what was there when you last connected.

Author

Commented:
Yea I'm a pretty big fan of vmware for a lot of things however this server is old and only has 1GB of ram. While that is a good idea this server just can't take it.
if you are connecting over the internet have you tried teamviewer?

Author

Commented:
I've used team viewer for windows ant iphone for a while now and never even noticed the linux version. That might not be the best for internal use (although it will work) but I'll have to use that from when I'm out of the office. Thanks.
Teamviewer is great because it has clients and servers for all systems.  I found it much faster than VNC for connections over the internet.

Author

Commented:
runmi78, x2go apparently uses at least part of xming under the hood. It is session aware and reconnects easily. the remote interface is quite fast on LAN (server actually responds a little faster??) I'm also surprised how full featured it is. I can share drives through it and even redirect sound. Plus for ease of use I can force everything over ssh easily to minimize open ports etc.

Great solution thank you.

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