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I would like to get an overview of available solutions for having a remote GUI access to ubuntu server:
-do you recommend installing a basic GUI then administrating over VNC?
-is X11 forwarding a good option?

I know there are similar questions already but they all focus on 1 aspect of the problem whereas I think it would be good to get an overview.


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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm a fan of FreeNX for this as it performs well even over low bandwidth situations: FreeNX on Ubuntu. That, combined with Blackbox makes a very low overhead GUI solution for managing a server.

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That sound's good. Could you explain a bit more how you "combine" FreeNX and Blackbox? – Max Feb 25 '11 at 15:12
They have nothing to do with each other. FreeNX is how you connect to the server, but without a window manager, you won't be able to move windows around. Blackbox provides that, but it's definitely not the only option available. It's just very lightweight & easily customizable & I think provides a good GUI for a server. – churnd Feb 26 '11 at 15:38

vnc direct is not such a great idea but will work - requires a desktop environment installed on the server (takes up extra resources)

vnc over an ssh tunnel would be a secure way of doing it - same issues as direct vnc though

one way to not have to start up an x-server display locally on your system (and use up lots of vital resources) is to use something like freenx this will give you a remote desktop similar to MS Terminal Server, however if you need something of the shared screen environment that VNC will give you, this wont work

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VNC is much more ubiquitous, and VNC over SSH is the easy way to make it happen. – Avery Payne Feb 25 '11 at 16:20

I think this depends on the quality of the connectivity you have:

good connectivity: you could go and use VNC

bad connectivity: use X11 for opening the window(s) you need.

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My experience is the other way around: Good connectivity = X11, Bad connectivity = VNC. – churnd Feb 25 '11 at 12:51
It really depends of the application you are trying to execute. In both case you should use -C on your ssh command to compress the stream. – aligot Feb 25 '11 at 12:53

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