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I have a VPS by my host running on a linux server, and they have given me SSH access.

Is it possible to remote desktop into the server, like you can on Windows, so that I can physcially click on things rather than having to use SSH commands?

Surely this must be running on Fedora or Ubuntu etc. so there is some type of OS.

You would probably have to install something on the servers end I suppose but just want to know if its possible and what the options are.

And before you say "why not ask your host" I find superuser responses are usually much quicker :-)

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It's unlikely your ISP will allow this as you have a Virtual server that (presumably) shares resources with other customers and running a graphical environment is resource hungry. –  Chris Nava Mar 19 '10 at 16:22

3 Answers 3

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Yes, you can do a remote desktop on Linux.

The standard RDP protocol is supported, assuming that the appropriate packages are installed. Since you don't know which distribution you're running, I can't tell you which packages are appropriate.

You can also do a VNC desktop. VNC is a protocol which is lighter weight than RDP.

Thirdly, you can also run X applications over a network. If you run 'ssh -x hostname' then any X programs running on the remote system will display on the local system.

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All right, this will only work if you have root access to the server, but here we go:

  1. If sshing from Windows, install Xming.
  2. Make sure there is actually an X11 desktop running on the remote machine; some servers have none. You may have to contact the host to ascertain whether this is the case, and if there is none will need to either install one (google it) or be content with ssh.
  3. Install x11vnc on the remote machine. It is in most if not all package management systems.
  4. Install a vnc viewer on the remote machine. Usually, a package named "vncviewer" is available in the package management system which should be what you want.
  5. Log back into the remote machine using "ssh [user]@[host] -X", or, if you are using a GUI to log into the server, configure it to "Forward X11" (google will help you).
  6. Once logged into the server, run: "x11vnc". It will ask for a password the first time, IIRC. If there are errors here, post them and I'll see if I can help.
  7. If sshing from Windows, double click on the Xming icon to start it.
  8. Run "vncviewer localhost". Enter the vnc password you chose in step 6.
  9. If a window doesn't pop up with the desktop of the server in it, something is wrong with your X11 forwarding. If you need help with this, google will probably offer more assistance than I can.
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If your server has X implemented and available, you could get NoMachine server software to access it. You then get the same display as the one you would get locally. But your provider must accept to isntall the server software and grant you access. There is no need to open other ports, as it works using the SSH protocol.

look at http://www.nomachine.com.

Also google for freenx to find a free alternative.

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I'd add that Google open-sourced its own NX implementation called "Neatx" which is now being used by the FreeNX PPA for Ubuntu. –  Kit Roed May 3 '10 at 21:30

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