Providing Text Mode Remote Access

Using a text-mode access tool, you can run text-based programs on a Linux computer from a remote location. These tools can include examples of most major software types, such as text editors (Vi, Emacs, etc.), mail readers (Pine, Mutt, etc.), web browsers (Lynx), compilers (GCC), and more. Of course, many modern programs require the use of a GUI environment, and such programs need more sophisticated remote login tools, as described in the upcoming section, "Providing GUI Remote Access." Text-mode protocols have a speed advantage, though; passing a few characters back and forth is much quicker than passing fonts, lines, bitmaps, and so on, as GUI tools require.

The two most common text-mode remote login tools available today are the Secure Shell (SSH) and Telnet. SSH is definitely the preferred tool, particularly for use on the Internet at large, because it uses encryption to prevent miscreants from listening in on a transfer and stealing passwords or other sensitive data. You can also use SSH to encrypt GUI logins, as described in the upcoming section, "Tunneling GUI Logins through SSH." Despite these advantages, the unencrypted Telnet lingers as a popular protocol. It's simpler than SSH, and Telnet clients ship with all major OSs that support TCP/IP. Telnet's security risks may be minor on well-protected wired local networks. (Wireless networks that don't use encryption are subject to easy eavesdropping.)

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