Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Crunchbang Linux - remote desktop

If you are using a Linux computer as file storage when it's in another room or headless (without a monitor) it would be good to remotely control the Linux desktop from your Windows computer. You could use Putty as explained in a previous article. However Putty only gives access to the remote Linux computer's command prompt, not to the desktop.

This article explains the basics of setting up Vino, it's a service on Crunchbang that'll allow for remote connections from a Windows computer (and other computers too). On the Windows side we can use a VNC client, more about this later...

Install Vino on Crunchbang Linux
Right click on the desktop

Click Terminal

At the $ prompt type:
sudo apt-get install vino  [Enter]

When it has finished type the following:
vino-preferences  [Enter]

At the top of the window it explains the 'Sharing' information - here you can see how you will be able to connect to your remote desktop. It's always the host name of your Crunchbang Linux computer with .local at the end. In my case it'll be crunchbangT42.local

Security is important but your level will depend on your circumstances. Don't choose 'You must confirm each access to this machine' because that will mean every time you connect to the Crunchbang remotely you'll need to physically go to it and press Enter to accept the remote connection. I do recommend you set a password, that way every time you connect you must enter this password. It will stop anyone else on your network connecting. 

When you've finished click Close

To make Vino start automatically every time you restart Crunchbang, do the following:

Right click on the Crunchbang desktop

Click Settings 

Click Openbox

Click Edit autostart

Scroll to the bottom and add the following:
# Start Vino
/usr/lib/vino/vino-server &

Save and exit the text editor.

The Linux side of the configuration is complete.

UltraVNC Viewer for Windows
Vino is compatible with VNC - in other words, you can use any VNC compatible program to access your Crunchbang Linux computer. I decided to use UltraVNC. It's a nice simple program and there's even a portable version available. In our example here, this is what we'll install:

From your Windows computer, click here and click the download button:

Once it has finished download run the exe file, it will extract the files.

Copy the UltraVNCViewer Portable folder to a USB flash drive, your desktop or wherever you want to store it.

Using Windows Explorer browse inside the folder and double click UltraVNCViewerPortable.exe

Enter the host name and .local at then end - in my example I've entered crunchbangT42.local

Click Connect

Enter the password you specified before (in vino-preferences) and click Log On

You'll see your Crunchbang Linux desktop!


Help on Crunchbang's website:

UltraVNC Portable

UltraVNC Wikipedia page


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