Remote Connection From Linux: in-depth Software Comparison
Remote desktop applications allow remote access to computers including desktop sharing. Depending on the protocol, they can handle a number of additional functions. This makes them useful helpers in both private and professional life. It is used by recreational admins to repair the desktops of distant relatives. The software is also useful in companies who want to provide remote support for their customers. A central function is desktop sharing: if the developer wants to show his colleagues the new website, he can easily share his desktop with them.
Ultimately, two types of remote desktop applications can be roughly distinguished, although the definitions are fluid. In remote desktop applications that rely on Virtual Network Computing (VNC), a computer serves as a server. it sends the image of the desktop as a compressed bitmap to the client. The programs run on the server; the user operates them on the client by sending mouse movements and keyboard entries to the server.
With desktop sharing as a remote desktop from linux, applications that rely on RDP-like or proprietary protocols send screen contents in the form of primitives, a mixture of images and information, via the network to one, but also to several clients (multichannel). They also transmit the desktop sound if necessary. The users then work, alone or in parallel with other users, on the server's desktop as if they were sitting directly in front of it.
Both software categories overlap in their functionality. Newer software makes it possible, for example, to chat, send files, make calls over the Internet and transfer videos at the same time. This article analyzes the remote desktop from linux relationships of Real-VNC , Tight-VNC , Teamviewer, Anydesk, NX and its free offshoot X2go , compares functions and performance and looks at the technology behind it.
Overview of Remote Desktop from Linux Connection Types
Real-VNC and Tight-VNC belong to a group of remote desktop applications that use Virtual Network Computing (VNC). The basic technology behind VNC is the platform-independent Remote Framebuffer Protocol (RFB). Since it works on the framebuffer level, it works for window-based systems such as Windows, OS X or X11, but also enables cross-platform connections enabling remote desktop from linux connections. RFB transmits the screen contents as bitmaps, whereby the server only responds to a client-side Framebuffer Update Request with the changes since the last request (Frame Buffer Update).
In contrast to the VNC representatives, the remote maintenance tools Teamviewer and Anydesk use proprietary protocols. From a technical point of view, No Machines NX and the free implementation X2go fall into the Remote desktop protocol category, but also serve the purpose of a remote desktop program. Their advantage over VNC is that they completely encrypt the data traffic. In contrast to some VNC applications, their users do not have to set up port forwarding manually if the remote computer is not in the local network.
The areas of application of VNC are diverse. Field workers connect to their company branches via the protocol. Since not all VNC variants encrypt, the admins often secure such sessions with the help of SSH tunnels. In doing so, you also kill the problem of port forwarding. Companies with a large number of sales representatives save money thanks to free VNC clients, because there are fees for tools such as Teamviewer or Anydesk for commercial use. At the same time, the data exchange remains under your own control.
The admin also controls servers that require a graphical user interface via VNC. The Hypervisor Virtualbox offers VNC to operate a virtual machine without a display (headless).
The remote desktop application Real-VNC uses the RFB protocol. It works across platforms and can be used under Unix-related systems such as Linux, OS-X, Solaris, HP-UX and AIX, but also under Windows and on the Raspberry Pi. The common Linux distributions bring their own packages for Real-VNC. In Debian these are called "vnc4server" and "xvnc4viewer", for RPM-based distributions they are "realvnc-vnc-server" and "realvnc-vnc-viewer" that enable remote desktop from linux. There are now also apps for Android and I-OS for the viewer.
The software is written in Java, subject to the GPL and proprietary licenses. The developers distribute Real-VNC in four editions. The Open Edition does not cost anything, but interested parties have to register and activate the software. In addition to the Open Edition, there has also been a Free Edition since version 5 that requires a free license key.
The Personal Edition and the Enterprise Edition are both commercial and differ essentially in the target group. If the Personal Edition is aimed at home users and small businesses (and Windows users with Windows Vista upwards), the Enterprise Edition should make larger companies happy. In contrast to the free Open Edition, the latter two encrypt and allow you to exchange files, chat and print on remote devices.
The Admin installs one of the variants of VNC on the computer to be controlled. He plays a VNC viewer on the client that wants to access the remote device. The viewer and server then establish a point-to-point connection which, if it is encrypted, allows secure communication.
Real-VNC is mainly suitable for remote access to one's own computer, but also as a remote help desk application. The price model for the commercial versions is based on the number of desktops to be controlled, including virtual ones. The provider charges 30 euros per desktop for the Personal Edition, while the Enterprise Edition costs 44 euros.
Another remote desktop application is called Tight-VNC , it also uses VNC and thus RFB as the protocol. The software is under the GPL, so it can be used freely both privately and commercially. It is written in C, C ++ and Java and is available for the Linux and Windows platforms. A mixed operation of both systems is possible, in addition, the provider offers a Java and with Remote Ripple an Android viewer.
Since the Java viewer has existed, however, no separate Linux version of the client has appeared. This only exists up to Tight-VNC 1.3.10. The software can also be installed using the package managers of most distributions enabling a good remote desktop from linux connection.
Tight-VNC is compatible with the client or server components of other VNC implementations. The tool focuses on compression and uses Jpeg and Zlib for this. So it can cope with low bandwidth. Its users can watch videos and play Direct X games, albeit at a reduced frame rate on broadband connections. Tight-VNC only encrypts passwords, complete encryption is on the agenda. To increase security, the developers advise tunneling connections via SSH.
With Tight-VNC, users control the desktops of remote computers. Since version 2.0 it has mastered autoscaling and adapts the size of the display in the viewer to that of the remote computer - regardless of the client resolution. For the Windows platform the admin reduces the necessary system resources by installing the DF-Mirage-Driver-Hooks on the server side .
Also worth mentioning: Various offshoots come from Tight-VNC, such as Remote-VNC, Tight-VNC Portable, Turbo-VNC and Tiger-VNC. The latter offspring split from the mothership in 2009, is quite common and is Fedora's standard VNC application.
In contrast to Tight-VNC, Tiger-VNC is equipped with extensions that allow users to authenticate themselves and to encrypt with TLS. The software focuses on 3-D display and video applications.
Teamviewer and Anydesk: Enterprise Remote Desktop Tools
Teamviewer and Anydesk have a lot in common, but they also have clear differences. Both applications are commercial, use proprietary protocols, and offer free versions of themselves for private use. Thanks to user-friendly GUIs, both offer a lot of convenience, penetrate firewalls without manual intervention by the admin and hardly require any configuration. The admin manages the access rights via blacklists and whitelists.
Teamviewer is used both in the private sector and in companies. The remote maintenance software offers screen sharing, video conferencing, file transfers, chats and VPN. It is available for Windows, OS X, Chrome OS as well as for RPM- and Deb-based Linux distributions for remote desktop from linux. Unlike Anydesk, it doesn't run natively on Linux, but needs a Wine environment. Only a 32-bit version is available for Linux, so a multiarch system is mandatory. Teamviewer supports Android, I-OS and Blackberry with apps in both directions, there is a viewer for Windows Phone.
Teamviewer connects computers via secure data channels and initiates encryption via 2048-bit RSA public-private-key exchange. The software then uses symmetrical 256-bit AES end-to-end encryption. The procedure is considered safe according to current standards. Verisign also signs the software using code signing. This should guarantee that only legitimate variants come into circulation. Teamviewer also offers paying customers two-factor authentication.
As a payment model, the company relies on the sale of licenses. The customer pays a one-time fee and can then use the software indefinitely. Other costs are not incurred. The company offers licenses in the four flavors of Business, Premium, Corporate and Enterprise. A business license enables customers to use it on up to three devices. There is also a session channel with unlimited endpoints and the basic functions of a management console. For Premium or Corporate editions for this remote desktop from linux software it can allow more devices and the management console offers correspondingly more functions. The Enterprise model finally fulfills individual requirements for large corporations and service companies by arrangement.
Anydesk Software GmbH in Stuttgart is still a relatively young company and was founded in 2014 by three former Teamviewer employees who believe they can create a better product. In the same year, Anydesk appeared as a beta version for Windows XP, 7, 8. x and 10. The Windows version can also be started simply by clicking on the exe file, which is only around 1 MB in size, and is therefore portable.
Anydesk is now also available in stable versions for Linux and BSD. Linux admins can look forward to native versions (each for 32 and 64 bit systems) for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, RHEL, Mageia, Open Suse and SLES as well as a generic Linux version this makes this software one of the to go remote desktop from linux softwares. A Mac version and apps for Apple and Android tablets are planned.
While ease of use is certainly a subjective question, the Anydesk makers are very well placed in terms of the speed and quality of the transmitted desktops. A proprietary protocol that transmits the data with Desk-RT helps you connect seamlessly to remote desktops from linux.
The video codec specially developed by Anydesk for graphic user interfaces compresses the data at the same time. Thanks to a special compression process, the protocol transmits the screen contents at up to 60 frames per second. At the same time, Anydesk buffers up to 100 screen contents in a buffer, which it does not have to retransmit if necessary.
The developers have integrated Anydesk deeply into the respective operating system and optimized it for multi-process architectures. The image data ends up on the screen after just a few processing steps. The company's servers, which are distributed around the world, rely on Erlang-OTP , a middleware for building distributed, high-availability systems that is based on the Erlang programming language developed by Ericsson. Security is guaranteed by TLS 1.2, Anydesk cryptographically authenticates the connection participants.
The software uses an annual payment model. In addition to the free version, which covers a workstation with a simultaneous session, sound and video transmission and data transfer. Interested parties in the enterprise tariff negotiate further requirements individually.
No Machine NX
The terminal server software NX from the Italian software company No Machine is the equivalent of Microsoft's RDP for the Linux world and is particularly suitable for connections that only have a low bandwidth. In addition, NX increases the efficiency of the X11 protocol by compressing the data in the network traffic and creating a cache for data that has already been transmitted. In addition, the in-house NX protocol reduces the round trips extensively used by X11 between the X client and the X server, which increase the latency of the connection.
NX transmits the data via an SSH tunnel. It works according to the client-server model, whereby the NX server can also forward sessions to VNC servers or via RDP to Windows terminal servers and thereby compress the data traffic again. The NX client runs on Linux, Windows, OS X and other, sometimes exotic, stationary and mobile platforms.
The server and client components of NX have been proprietary since version 4.0. The developers offer a wide range of enterprise products that admins can test free of charge for 30 days. No Machine's license model ties in with the number of CPU cores used and the respective platform. In Linux, the chosen distribution also plays a role.
A popular free alternative to NX is the terminal server X2go , which also works according to the client-server principle. It is available for Linux, Maemo and Windows. The client software runs on thin clients, PCs, web browsers and mobile devices. Users access the sessions via a Firefox add-on via a web client. Like the no longer actively developed Free NX, X2go uses the No Machine NX libraries in version 3, which were still subject to the GPL.
On the basis of these libraries, the X2go project has built a number of extensions that include an alternative graphical user interface with Pyhoca-gui. Since X2go is also popular in companies, there is extensive documentation and a German forum. The client and the alternative GUI are part of the standard repertoire in most distributions. For the server, the web plug-in and many other extensions, the admin usually has to integrate the X2go repository. The project is subject to GPLv2 and AGPLv3.
There are many alternatives to these options for remote desktop from linux softwares we have listed in this article. You can look up more alternatives and even programs that use RDP protocol yourself but the ones that we have listed here are the ones that are working fine and are updated constantly. So if you want to use remote desktop from linux you can do it really easily and it’s available for free for most of the individual licenses. We hope this article has helped you to connect to remote desktops from linux and follow us for more remote desktop related articles.