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Graphical Remote Control Desktops for Linux

Controlling Windows Computers From Linux

  • October 30, 2008
  • By A. Lizard
A remote control desktop is a software application that permits the monitoring and control of a computer desktop and its applications from another computer. That software will make it possible to view and run applications and configure files on the remote-controlled machine as if you were sitting in front of it, you will see the desktop on the monitor, and control it via the physical mouse and keyboard of the computer you are actually using.

You can do this interactively with a user present on the remote-controlled machine so the user can see what you are doing and you can see what the user is doing, which is handy if you are trying to teach the user something.

This series will show you how to set up remote control desktops which will make it possible for you to control a Windows box from Linux, or control your Linux box from another Linux computer. It is necessarily Debian-family specific, though what's here may well be useful as guidance even for rpm-based distro users.

Client and Server

You run a remote-control server on the computer you want to remote-control. A remote-control client accesses that server to permit you to monitor or operate it as if you were sitting at the physical machine. In the rest of this article, the "server" is the computer being remote-controlled, the "client" is the computer the remote control is directed from.

Controlling Windows computers from Linux

One of the annoying facts of life for a Linux user is that one's immediate circle of family and friends know that you are the most knowledgeable computer user they know and will frequently get volunteered to get them out of the trouble they got themselves into with their Windows environment. Having a way to remote-control their computers can save you a lot of drive time.

What is RDP?

RDP is a remote access protocol for PCs developed by MS as an addition to an ITU standard, RDP's purpose is similar to the popular Open Source VNC protocol.

Why rdp instead of the better known vnc? The rdp protocol is encrypted by default - no activation of a second program like stunnel to provide ssh is necessary. While rdp is a microsoft extension of an ITU standard, the Linux Open Source rdesktop client is available to work with it. It also works with Virtualbox. An rdp server is also built into or available for all Windows versions from Windows 2000 onward.
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