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I have a desktop PC with Arch Linux 2013.08.01. I also have an old HP Pavillion DM1 netbook. I'd like to configure the netbook so it is simply a "terminal" of the desktop PC over the network. I'd like to see the desktop PC from the netbook, and do all my work over the netbook when I'm away from the PC.

Basically, just like a remote desktop environment. But I really need it to be fast, and efficient. Could you suggest a lightweight and open source configuration that will work quickly and effectively for this purpose (given a good network connection) ?


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I know it ought to be self evident, but 'network' in terms of a 'lan' or 'wan'. In addition, I notice you mention using a windows VM, and wanting to access stuff from there - what VM software? – Journeyman Geek Aug 5 '13 at 0:47
In my PC I have virtualbox with Windows installed, so I can access the design tools. By "network" I mean LAN, and also remotely over the internet in some occations (although I'd like to have this disabled unless necessary for security). The ideal tool would allow me to use the virtualized machine from the netbook as well as the main XFCE desktop apps from the PC – Alain Jacomet Forte Aug 5 '13 at 1:21
Do you have the extentions installed? You could use RDP for the VM - which might be more efficient than VNC – Journeyman Geek Aug 5 '13 at 1:25
Yes I do have them. Is that efficient enough? I could use that for the graphical tools, and simple ssh for all the other applications, provided that it works well over the network ... – Alain Jacomet Forte Aug 5 '13 at 1:27
MUCH better than VNC in my opinion, but naturally it depends on the network, latency, and specific requirements. I'd cop out and say, test it and see – Journeyman Geek Aug 5 '13 at 1:31

The prefered environment of course of any Linux "hacker" is SSH. This will be the fastest option and most secure. However, if you want to use a GUI - VNC is your only open source option.

VNC is a standard that has been around for quite some time. There are both free and paid servers / clients that use this standard. For free and open source VNC I recommend TightVNC (or its sister TigerVNC branched by Red Hat).

Arch Linux has a tutorial for this. (

Everything in Linux may be done in an SSH environment. However, if you're planning on using your desktop remotely with a GUI for just word processing I would recommend a different a different set up. Remote connections with a GUI to your desktop will never be fast enough.

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Thanks! What do you think about using X11 Forwarding for this? – Alain Jacomet Forte Aug 4 '13 at 23:55
That would work. However, I found that using X11 forwarding is generally unnecessary. For example, someone asked my to show them to X forward FireFox - their reason was to access the local network remotely. However, by setting up a SSH connection their issue was solved without the need to forward firefox. So I'm saying there might be a more efficient way of accomplishing your goals than forwarding the GUI. – Mark Lopez Aug 5 '13 at 0:12
The truth is that I need to use a lot of tools that my netbook doesn't have enough CPU for. I use lots of Adobe's design tools under a virtual machine in my PC (which is impossible in the notebook). For all other tasks, I can probably use the command line with a simple ssh connection. – Alain Jacomet Forte Aug 5 '13 at 0:15

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