Shell is a command line interface to an operating system. Most shell providers offer a simple text only interface via ssh, telnet, or rlogin. With some of these providers it may be possible to execute X commands and redirect them to your display. While this allows you to use graphical commands, it is a tedious process.
While Eskimo North does provide traditional shell access, we go much further offering full remote desktop access with sound. This is like having a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers plugged right into our servers and it is available from anywhere in the world. With a reasonably decent broadband connection, full motion video and high quality audio is possible.
Four popular remote desktop protocols are supported. All of these are tunnelled through ssh to provide encryption to protect your sensitive data and to prevent snooping on your activities or intercepting your login authentication credentials.
- X2Go is by far the preferable protocol to use. There are two clients that work with X2Go, the X2Go client, and PyHoca, a python client. The X2Go client is easy to configure with a simple graphical configuration interface. It tunnels all data through an SSH connection by default so there is little chance of accidentally establishing an unencrypted session and exposing critical data. It is the only remote desktop that supports sound well. It does an excellent job of eliminating X round-trip delays and it also compresses data very efficiently. It is the only remote desktop protocol that is sufficiently robust and efficient to make full motion video and audio work reasonably well over a cable modem connection. X2Go is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS/X based computers. For linux computers, it is usually included with your distribution. Try yum install x2go-client or apt-get install x2go-client.
- NX is a protocol developed by No Machine. They produce commercial servers and clients. They made the libraries for their earlier version, 3.5, available Open Source, and as a result there are open source servers and clients available for it. When they came out with version 4.0, they did not make the libraries open source. As a result, there are many open source NX clients such as OpenNX, FreeNX, and Remmina, for the 3.5 version of the servers, and several 3.5 open source servers. Of these, FreeNX server is the most complete and that is what we use to provide NX here. The original NoMachine 3.5 client is no longer available and the 4.0 client is only marginally compatible. You can connect here with the 4.0 player but it typically takes several attempts.
- VNC is an old X-forwarding protocol. The VNC servers we have here are configured to tunnel through ssh in order to provide a secure encrypted session. Consequently, you will either need a client that provides ssh tunnelling such as Chicken VNC (not to be confused with Chicken of the VNC which does not provide this functionality) or you will need to setup an ssh tunnel manually. VNC does not do such a good job of eliminating X round-trip delays nor does it compress as effeciently as X2Go or NX. However, VNC is available for more platforms and if you have an older computer this may be the best option.
- RDP or Remote Desktop Protocol is the protocol used by Windows for remote desktop access. If you have a Windows machine, you most likely already have RDP built in so it is a quick way to get a remote desktop up and running. The performance of RDP is really not adequate for full motion video and it also lacks audio and remote printing.