Providing GUI Remote Access

Although text-mode remote access is a powerful tool with an OS such as Linux that provides a wide array of text-based programs, some applications demand remote GUI access. You can't run programs such as graphics editors via a text-mode login, for instance. In addition, some users aren't comfortable with text-mode tools. For these reasons, Linux provides several GUI remote access tools.

One key GUI remote access method is the X Window System (X) itself. Unlike most GUIs, X is inherently network-enabled. X's network operations can be a bit hard to understand if you're not used to the terminology, though, and some methods of using X remotely can be tedious. Typically, you use X remotely by first logging in with another protocol. This may be a text-based protocol such as SSH or Telnet, or it may be a specialized X login tool, the X Display Manager Control Protocol (XDMCP). A second GUI remote access tool is Virtual Network Computing (VNC), which operates differently than does X. You can either launch a VNC server from an individual account or integrate X with an XDMCP server to provide login access for any authorized user. Finally, if you want to improve the security of your remote X accesses, you can tunnel either X or VNC through an SSH login.

Note Linux GUI programs are increasingly making use of the X Render Extension, which was introduced with XFree86 4.0. Some non-Linux X servers and most VNC servers do not yet support this option. As a result, some X programs, including many GNOME applications, won't run with these tools.

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