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Thread: remote desktop, please suggestions?

  1. #11

    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    Thanks all!
    Now I'll take some time to evaluate pros and cons between VNC, NX (both free and proprietary) and... well, I just discovered X2GO ! =)
    It will take me a while also to try things out and let you know, sorry.

    One of the values of nomachine are the iOS and android apps, but I'm not sure what they may come handy for yet...\

    I am also copying here for further reference,
    a nicely detailed post from oldcpu from the other thread.


    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    I maintain my 89-year old mother's computer (currently running openSUSE-13.1) , where she lives in North America, and I live in Europe. I try to visit her once/year, and each year I do clean install of her openSUSE with the latest openSUSE version.

    Every day (or every second day - dependant on my business trips and vacation internet access) my mother and I chat on Skype.

    I maintain her computer using a very basic implementation of vnc. When I take over her desktop to update anything, I do it such that she can see everything that I do, which helps in her understanding. Typically once every couple of weeks I will apply her openSUSE updates. In general I asked her that she not apply the updates herself (she can thou - as she has on occasion). The reason I ask to let me do the updates is it gives me more control over her openSUSE and know exactly what is on her PC.

    I use only open source graphic drivers on her PC. That way there is no danger of a kernel update breaking her graphics.

    Typically we will chat for 15-minutes during a day with Skype, and then on the software update days (usually on the weeekend), I ask verbally for her permission to enter her PC. She always says yes, and then I enter her PC. Once it is confirmed that I am 'in' her PC, we close the Skype session as it consumes too much of her bandwidth for both a reasonable vnc update speed and to use Skpe (she has a VERY slow internet connection to save money). But we can always open a text app on her desktop and communicate via such a chat (if needed). Or we can simply pick up the phone and call each other (long distance across the ocean). We rarely need to do such.

    I update her PC only using YaST software management and not with the KDE update tool. I keep her repositories at the VERY basic : OSS, Non-OSS, Update, Non-OSS-update, and packman. No others. None !

    I have her desktop arranged (with KDE 4) exactly how she likes and I have a screen shot kept on her PC and mine of the icon layout, and I have a backup of her folders/desktop arrangement in an oldcpu directory under her /home directory. Many times she wiped her KDE desktop and I had to restore it remotely. This is easy to do, once one knows how.

    I have her printer/scanner setup and I help her scan when she has problems. For the longest time I had to help her clean her openSUSE print queue when it got jammed, but that has not happened for a long time, so I assume she has figured out how to do such.

    I have virtual box setup on her desktop, with a WindowsXP install inside Virtual Box. She only needs to click on an 'XP' icon on her desktop, and that launches VirtualBox and XP automatically with no more mouse button presses needed. XP then fills her entire screen. And when she shuts down XP she is back to her KDE4. She used to use XP all the time. Now she rarely uses it. When ever I update the kernel, I need to rebuild Virtual Box. Its a single command to do this, virtual box gives me the command each time - so it is simple.

    I have my mother's router setup that it maps the dynamic IP address to dyndns site, which assigns a name 'mothercpu.net' (not exactly) so when I connect to her PC I do not need to know her IP. Plus I have a backup icon on her desktop that gives me her Internet IP address, such that if the router IP mapping fails, I can ask her (via skype chat) to click on the icon and give me her IP address verbally over Skpe.

    The worst problem I ever had was when she damaged her /home directory and her PC would not boot. I documented it here: https://forums.opensuse.org/entry.ph...ck-7000km-away

    Thats an over view with NO technical details. I need to rush to supper now.

    [snip]

    I also have my mother's router setup such that ssh and vnc connections that arrive at a specific port on her router are then routed directly to specific ports on her PC. Hence when I access her router via ssh or vnc, my access is redirected immediately to the appropriate port(s) on her desktop PC.

    I also have her desktop PC's openSUSE-13.1 firewall setup to allow access on the specific ports that I have designated for ssh and vnc. This gives me ssh and vnc access.

    Once setup, I have not needed to change this, although I did ensure that I kept a record of this, which has come in handy. There have been a couple of occasions where my mother had problems with her TV (which uses the same router as her internet). My mother called the cable company, and part of their recovery action for her TV was to reset her router (wiping out all my custom router settings). Fortunately I can also access her router remotely (with her router's IP address and the appropriate password) and I was able to access her router, logon to her router, and restore the router settings that again allowed me remote access to her openSUSE-13.1 GNU/Linux OS running PC.

    When one is a continent away providing remote maintenance, it is best as much as possible to setup things for different sorts of problems, and have contingencies in mind.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by suseisnotdebian View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu
    The worst problem I ever had was when she damaged her /home directory and her PC would not boot. I documented it here: https://forums.opensuse.org/entry.ph...ck-7000km-away
    It turns out my mother does not backup her data (to an external USB device) so this is something I need to setup. I am a continent away, so that adds a complication.

    My plan is to buy a 1-TB USB drive over the internet, and have it shipped to her. I will then ask my sister (who lives in the same city as my mother) to unpack the USB drive, and plug it into my mother's PC. Then I will access my mother's PC remotely, and back up her /home to the USB drive. I have not decided if I will back up / .

    I am still deliberating on what is the best backup app to use. I am leaning toward using the basic program 'dar' but I have a learning curve to overcome first.

    Some of my deliberations are on this thread, starting at post #15 : https://forums.opensuse.org/showthre...-Drive-Backup?

    I have had not time to advance this the past two months due to illness, vacation, and visitors at our place (where they sleep in my computer room) for the past 6-weeks. It may be another couple of months before I obtain access to my computer room, so I can test some backup methods. Currently I only have access to my ultrabook.

    My goal is by this summer to have a backup method in place, where I can remotely backup my mother's PC to an external USB drive that she plugs in to her PC.
    Last edited by oldcpu; 16-Apr-2015 at 01:55.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by hendersj View Post
    If it were me, I'd set up an ssh connection between the two boxes, and then tunnel VNC over it. Don't run VNC over the 'net in the clear (it's not encrypted), but you can add the x11vnc after connecting via ssh with port forwarding, then connect to localhost:10 (or whatever) to connect to the remote machine.
    Indeed that is exactly what I do, following the advice/commands that Yaloki give me many years back.

    I follow a very basic terminal way to launch vnc from my computer here in Europe (to remotely maintain my mother's PC in North America). Once vnc is launched, I have full GUI access to her desktop, and she can see everything that I do (which is what I want).

    To be more precise, I use x11vnc all the time with my mother's PC. She is running openSUSE-13.1 in North America. I am running a mix of openSUSE-13.1 and 13.2 in Europe (dependant on the PC I am using). But the method I employ works on all (or a mix) of openSUSE-13.1 and 13.2 PCs. I have been using this identical technique since openSUSE-11.

    To take over my mother's desktop in North America, I open two terminals on my desktop here in Europe.

    In the first terminal on my PC here in Europe I type:
    Code:
    ssh -t -L 5900:localhost:5900 mothercpu@mothercpu.accessmyhome.net 'x11vnc -localhost -nolookup -nopw -display :0'
    where mothercpu is my mother's openSUSE username, and where mothercpu.accessmyhome.net is mapped at dyndns to an IP address, and my mother's router constantly updates her IP address to dyndns. I have my mother's router setup to route any port #22 connection attempts to her PC. ... Thus that command reaches her PC and I get prompted for a password which I enter. With correct password it then starts x11vnc on my mother's PC, and pipes it back to my PC via ssh. However it does not display it (yet). Since it is using ssh, all the data being transferred is encrypted (I believe).

    In the second terminal on my desktop here in Europe I type (in order to display her desktop in North America) the following:
    Code:
    vncviewer -encodings "tight copyrect hextile" localhost:0
    That immediately opens up a session of her desktop (in North America) on my PC here in Europe. My mother can see me move her mouse and can see me do everything on her PC (which is what I want).

    yaloki (who was on the openSUSE board and for a long time one of the main openSUSE 3rd party RPM packagers (before he 'retired')) taught me this technique many years ago .... (and I think he would still be a bit amused if he were to find out that I still find it essential for helping my 89+ year old mother on her openSUSE GNU/Linux PC).
    .
    Last edited by oldcpu; 16-Apr-2015 at 02:50.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    On Thu, 16 Apr 2015 08:56:01 +0000, oldcpu wrote:

    > I am still deliberating on what is the best backup app to use. I am
    > leaning toward using the basic program 'dar' but I have a learning curve
    > to overcome first.


    dar is pretty good - I have used it myself. But if the new drive is
    larger than the old, why not just sync with rsync?

    Jim



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  5. #15
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by hendersj View Post
    On Thu, 16 Apr 2015 08:56:01 +0000, oldcpu wrote:

    > I am still deliberating on what is the best backup app to use. I am
    > leaning toward using the basic program 'dar' but I have a learning curve
    > to overcome first.


    dar is pretty good - I have used it myself. But if the new drive is
    larger than the old, why not just sync with rsync?

    Jim



    --
    Jim Henderson
    openSUSE Forums Administrator
    Forum Use Terms & Conditions at http://tinyurl.com/openSUSE-T-C
    And this uses a combination of rsync and cp -al. This enables you to keep several copies through time without taking to much disk space because files that stayed the same are linked.

    http://rsnapshot.org/
    Henk van Velden

  6. #16
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by hendersj View Post
    if the new drive is larger than the old, why not just sync with rsync?
    Why ?

    I have not not looked at backups since February. But I remember from February that the plethora of confusing documentation on rsync turned me off wrt it. I wanted to backup /home and likely / such that if my mother had a problem with her hard drive and the operating system would not boot, I could have my sister boot the PC to a liveCD/DVD (such as knoppix) and boot to the liveCD, have her run the appropriate command in knoppix to give me remote access to the PC, I would then enter the PC remotely (with me a continent away), have my sister plug in the External USB drive into the remote PC, and I would recover the / and /home on the remote PC from the external drive .

    I found 'dar' guides explaining enough that I think I could do that (once I learn some more about dar and practise locally a few times). One does not need to reformat the NTFS external drive.

    But with rsync the documentation was and is confusing. The guides starting giving reasons why not to back up / (rather than give me a guide for root backup, I instead could only find article after artcle claiming its too easy/quick to install the OS again and that only data needs to be backed up - - sure thats ok if one is in front of the PC, but I will be > 7000km away ).

    I could not find a good simple rsync guide that covered all necessary aspects for the specific external USB drive backup I had in mind (ie / and / home partitions but not touch other partitions on the PC). I could find dar guides. Odd tidbits of rsync here and there, given I was coming from zero knowledge did not help me.

    So right or wrong ... its my lack of knowledge and inability to find an appropriate guide. That is why. ... But I am still months away from having the duration of access to my desktop PCs so to try/test this properly.
    .
    Last edited by oldcpu; 16-Apr-2015 at 13:48.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    I use luckybackup GUI front to rsync and it is dead easy. Rsync is fast after first backup since only changed files get copied. Dar and a GUI front end are fine but what you get are compressed images (tar.zip) files Which is fine for burning DVD or CD backup media. You can also do incremental but you end up with an ever expanding set of files that become harder to restore over time. With an rsync solution the backup set never exceeds the original.

  8. #18
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    Why ?
    That was my reaction. I would use "dar". It is easy to use. The backups can be on NTFS.

    The one advantage of "rsync" is that it is easier to get back individual files. But if you don't do that very often, and are mainly concerned about a failed disk, then "dar" seems to be the tool.

    One caution, though. Backup disks can also fail. So there might be an advantage in having two backup disks and alternating between them. I am currently liking those portable disks that are powered by the USB port, so are easy to connect.
    openSUSE Leap 15.1; KDE Plasma 5;
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  9. #19
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    On 2015-04-16 22:56, oldcpu wrote:

    > I found 'dar' guides explaining enough that I think I could do that
    > (once I learn some more about dar and practise locally a few times). One
    > does not need to reformat the NTFS external drive.


    That's important: with rsync the drive should have a Linux filesystem;
    otherwise, permissions and attributes are not kept.

    I don't see rsync appropriate a full system recovery. However... for
    /home recovery, yes. After you get the system up and connected (without
    home). So not for your situation.

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    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.

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  10. #20
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    Default Re: remote desktop, please suggestions?

    On 2015-04-16 23:26, nrickert wrote:
    > I am
    > currently liking those portable disks that are powered by the USB port,
    > so are easy to connect.


    I don't... sometimes they don't get enough power to spin up.

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    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.

    (from 13.1 x86_64 "Bottle" (Minas Tirith))

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