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X2Go Linux remote desktop

Alastair Grant | Tuesday 21 January 2014

One of the major areas that I feel that Linux lags on is decent remote desktop / terminal services functionality.

VNC is still the bundled and de-facto way of connecting to a Linux desktop remotely. I have fond memories of blocks of screens appearing from remote machines whilst on my 56K modem. Alas, the protocol hasn't advanced since those days and it's clunky today - especially when compared to Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol.

I was pleased to discover FreeNX a few years ago, which is far better, using X11 forwarding with a fairly good client and runs over SSH (making it very easy to use from just about anywhere, as you can run SSH over HTTP proxies). FreeNX is a fork of NoMachine's system, which is also provided commercially. This has recently gone to version 4, offering better this than and the other. I don't like it. You have to pay for the commercial version if you want to connect over SSH and not their propriety protocol - plus it doesn't seem to handle screen changes as well as the previous version.

So when a disk failure last week prompted me to rebuild my server I decided to take a look if there were any other offerings. Forums discussions seemed to unanimously point to X2Go - which seems to be another fork of NX technology.

Installing it on openSUSE 13.1 is very simple thanks to the Open Build Service. I just added the repository to YaST and installed the "x2goserver" package. I then got stumped on how I set it up and configure it (being used to the usual painful world of Linux and GNU programs). I was surprised to find that it "just worked". I downloaded the client for Windows and connected up.

The client grumbles a bit with the quirky proxy setup I'm connecting through, but dismissing blank pop-ups and having to connect twice seems to do the trick.

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