Posts Tagged ‘VNC’

Quick way to access remotely your GNU / Linux Desktop – Access Linux Desktop from Mac and Windows 7

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Reading Time: 5minutes

For M$ Windows users its always handy to have remote access to your home PC or notebook via Remote Desktop (RDP) protocol.

However in GNU / Linux, there is no native implementation of RDP protocol. So if you're using Linux as your Desktop like me you will probably want to be able to access the Linux system remotely not only via terminal with SSH using (Putty) or MobaXTerm all in one tabbed Windows terminal program but also be able to use your Linux GNOME / KDE Graphical environment from anywhere on the Internet.

This will make you ponder – Is it possible to access Linux Desktop via proprietary RDP protocol and if not how you can achieve remote GUI access to Linux?

1. Using Linux Xorg and Xming Xserver for Windows

Most people should already know of Linux ability to start multiple Xserver sessions remotely which is the native way to access between two Linux hosts or access remotely Linux from other Linux UNIX like OS. It is also possible to use xinit / startx / xhost commands to establish remotely connection to new or running Linux (Xorg) Xserver by using them in combination with XMing – XServer for Windows running on the Windows host and Debian package (x11-xserver-utils) – providing xhost cmd, however this method is a bit complicated and not so convenient.

I used to be using this method XMing (whose mirror is here), earlier in my university years to use remotely my Debian Linux from  Windows 98 and this works perfectly fine.

2. Using RDP emulation with XRDP server

in order to be able to access your desk from any friend or computer club in the world using standard available in MS WindowsRemote Desktop client (mstsc.exe).
There is also another alternative way by using Windows Desktop sharing RDP experimental server xrdp:

apt-cache show xrdp |grep -i descr -A 3
Description: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) server
 Based on research work by the rdesktop project, xrdp uses the Remote
 Desktop Protocol to present a graphical login to a remote client.
 xrdp can connect to a VNC server or another RDP server.

To make your Linux host accessible via RDP:

On Debian / Ubuntu etc. deb based Linux:


apt-get update
apt-get install xrdp

$ /etc/init.d/xrdp status
Checking status of Remote Desktop Protocol server xrdp                                             [ OK ]
Checking status of RDP Session Manager sesman

/etc/init.d/xrdp start

On  Fedora Linux:

yum -y install xrdp
systemctl enable xrdp.service
systemctl start xrdp.service
systemctl enable xrdp-sesman.service
systemctl start xrdp-sesman.service

It is possible to access remote Linux host using xrdp RDP server, but this will only work in older releases of mstsc.exe (Windows XP / Vista / 2003) and will not work on Windows 7 / 8, because in MS Windows 7 and onwards RDP proto version has changed and the client no longer has compatability with older mstsc releases. There is a work around for this for anyone who stubbornly want to use RDP protocol to access Linux host. If you want to connect to xrdp from Windows 7 you have to copy the old RDP client (mstsc.exe and mstscax.dll) from a WinXP install to the Windows 7 box and run it independently, from the default installed ones, anyways this method is time consuming and not really worthy …

3. Using the VNC withTightVNC server/ client


Taking above in consideration, for me personally best way to access Linux host from Windows and Mac is to use simply the good old VNC protocol with TightVNC.

TightVNC is cross-platform free and open source remote Desktop client it uses RFB protocol to control another computer screen remotely.

To use tightvnc to access remote Debian / Ubuntu – deb based Linux screen, tightvncserver package has to be installed:

apt-cache show tightvncserver|grep -i desc -A 7
Description-en: virtual network computing server software
 VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is, in essence, a remote
 display system which allows you to view a computing `desktop' environment
 not only on the machine where it is running, but from anywhere on the
 Internet and from a wide variety of machine architectures.

 This package provides a server to which X clients can connect and the
 server generates a display that can be viewed with a vncviewer.


apt-get –yes install tightvncserver

TightVNCserver package is also available in default repositories of Fedora / CentOS / RHEL and most other RPM based distros, to install there:

yum -y install tightvnc-server

Once it is installed to make tightvncserver running you have to start it (preferrably with non-root user), usually this is the user with which you're using the system:


You will require a password to access your desktops.

Would you like to enter a view-only password (y/n)? n

New 'X' desktop is rublev:4

Creating default startup script /home/hipo/.vnc/xstartup
Starting applications specified in /home/hipo/.vnc/xstartup
Log file is /home/hipo/.vnc/rublev:4.log



To access now TightVncserver on the Linux host Download and Install TightVNC Viewer client

note that you need to download TightVNC Java Viewer JAR in ZIP archive – don't install 32 / 64 bit installer for Windows, as this will install and setup TightVNCServer on your Windows – and you probably don't want that (and – yes you will need to have Oracle Java VM installed) …


Once unzipped run tightvnc-jviewer.jar and type in the IP address of remote Linux host and screen, where TightVNC is listening, as you can see in prior screenshot my screen is :4, because I run tightvnc to listen for connections in multiple X sessions. once you're connected you will be prompted for password, asker earlier when you run  tightvncserver cmd on Linux host.

If you happen to be on a Windows PC without Java installed or Java use is prohibited you can use TightVNC Viewer Portable Binary (mirrored here)


If you have troubles with connection, on Linux host check the exact port on which TightVncServer is running:

ps ax |grep -i Tightvnc

 8630 pts/8    S      0:02 Xtightvnc :4 -desktop X -auth /var/run/gdm3/auth-for-hipo-7dpscj/database -geometry 1024×768 -depth 24 -rfbwait 120000 -rfbauth /home/hipo/.vnc/passwd -rfbport 5904 -fp /usr/share/fonts/X11/misc/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/Type1/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/75dpi/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/100dpi/ -co /etc/X11/rgb

Then to check, whether the machine you're trying to connect from doesn't have firewall rules preventing the connection use (telnet) – if installed on the Windows host:

telnet 5904
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
RFB 003.008

telnet> quit
Connection closed.


MobaXTerm: A good gnome-terminal like tabbed SSH client for Windows / Windows Putty Tabs Alternative

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Reading Time: 5minutes

Mobaxterm ssh client putty MS Windows alternative with tabs suitable for ex linux users

mobaxterm with tabbed ssh connections screenshot best putty windows ssh client alternative now

Last 10+ years I worked on GNU / Linux as Desktop. Last 7 years most of my SSH connections were managed from GNOME and I'm quite used to gnome-terminal ssh tabbing. In my new Employee Hewlett Packard. I'm forced to work on Microsoft Windows 7 and thus I used for a month or so Putty and Kitty fork from version 0.63 of PuTTY advertising itself as the best telnet / SSH client in the world. Both of the two lack tabbing and have interface which is pretty unfamiliar to me. As I'm so used to using native UNIX terminal. Fortunately a colleague of mine Ivelin was using an SSH client called MobaXTerm which very much did emulation similar to my favourite gnome-terminal. MobaXterm is not free software / open source app but this doesn't matter so much to me as anyways I'm running a non-free Win OS on my desktop. What makes MobaXterm so attractive is its rich functionality (cosmic years infront of Putty).

Here is website description of MobaXterm quoted from its website:

MobaXterm is an enhanced terminal for Windows with an X11 server, a tabbed SSH client and several other network tools for remote computing (VNC, RDP, telnet, rlogin). MobaXterm brings all the essential Unix commands to Windows desktop, in a single portable exe file which works out of the box.

Overall list of features MobaXterm offers are;

  •     multitab terminal with embedded Unix commands (ls, cd, cat, sed, grep, awk, rsync, wget, …)

  •     embedded X11 server for easily exporting your Unix/Linux display

  •     a session manager with several network utilities: SSH, RDP, VNC, Telnet, Rlogin, FTP, SFTP and XDMCP

  •     passwords management for SSH, RDP, VNC, SFTP (on demand password saving)

  •     easy graphical file transfer using drag and drop during SSH sessions

  •     advanced SSH tunnels creation tool (graphical port forwarding builder)

  •     tasks automation using scripts or macros

Mobaxterm is portable just like Putty so its useful to use on HOP stations to servers like used in big companies like HP. Featured embedded Unix commands (e.g., ls, cd, cat, sed, grep, awk, rsync, wget) gives a feeling like you're working on pure Linux console making people addicted to Linux / BSD quite confortable. Some other very useful terminal emulator functions are support for anti-aliasing session manager (save / remember passwords for ssh sessions in Crypted format so much missing in Putty) and it even supports basic macros.
Basic UNIX commands embedded in MobaXterm are taken and ported from Cygwin projectLinux-like environment for Windows making it possible to port software running on POSIX systems (such as Linux, BSD, and Unix systems) to Windows. A very cool think is also MobaXterm gives you a Linux like feel of console navigation in between basic files installed from Cygwin. Some downside I found is program menus which look at first glimpse a bit confusing especially for people used to simplicity of gnome-terminal. Once logged in to remote host via ssh command the program offers you to log you in also via SFTP protocol listing in parallel small window with possibility to navigate / copy / move etc. between server files in SFTP session which at times is pretty useful as it saves you time to use some external SFTP connector tools like  WinSCP.

From Tools configuration menu, there are few precious tools as well;
         – embedded text editor MobaTextEditor
         – MobaFoldersDiff (Able to show diffeernces between directories)
         – AsciiTable (Complete List of Ascii table with respective codes and characters)
         – Embedded simple Calculator
         – List open network ports – GUI Tool to list all open ports on Windows localhost
         – Network packets capture – A Gui tool showing basic info like from UNIX's tcpdump!
         – Ability to start quickly on local machine (TFTP, FTP, SFTP / SSH server, Telnet server, NFS server, VNC Server and even simple implementation of HTTP server)

Mobaxterm list of tools various stuff

         Mobaxterm run various services quickly on Windows servers management screenshot

Below are few screenshots to get you also idea about what kind of configuration MobaXterm supports
  mobaxterm terminal configuration settings screenshot

mobaxterm better putty alternative x11 configuration tab screenshot

mobaxterm windows ssh client for linux users configuration ssh tab screenshot

MobaXTerm Microsoft Windows ssh client configuration misc menu screenshot
To configure and use Telnet, RSH, RDP, VNC, FTP etc. Sessions use the Sessions tab on top menu.

One very handy thing is MobaXterm supports export of remote UNIX display with no requirement to install special Xserver like already a bit obsolete Xming – X server for Windows.
The X Display Manager Control Protocol (XCMCP) is a key feature of the X11 architecture. Together with XDMCP, the X network protocol allows distributed operation of the X server and X display manager. The requesting X server runs on the client (usually as an X terminal), thus providing a login service, that why the X server ported to MobaXterm from Cygwin also supports XDMCP. If, for example, you want to start a VNC session with a remote VNC server, all you have to do is enter the remote VNC server’s IP address in the VNC area; the default VNC port is already registered.

Accessing the remote Windows server via RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) is also a piece of cake. Once you establish a session to RDP or other Proto it is possible to save this session so later you just choose between session to access. The infamous (X11 Port Forwarding) or creation of SSH encrypted tunnels between hosts to transfer data securily or hide your hostname is also there.

MobaXterm is undoubtedly a very useful and versatile tool. Functionally, the software is well mannered, and Windows users who want to sniff a little Linux/Unix air can get a good idea of how Linux works. A closer look reveals that anything you can do with MobaXterm can be achieved directly with freely available tools (Cygwin) and Unix tools ported from Cygwin. However, although Cygwin provides a non-Posix environment for Windows, it doesn’t offer a decent terminal, which is one thing Moba-Xterm has going for it.

Admittedly, in pure vanilla Cygwin, you can start an X server automatically and then use xterm, but xterm lacks good-quality fonts, whereas MobaXterm conveniently lets you integrate a font server.