Starting applications remotely on Ubuntu (and other Linux distributions)

17/01/2010 at 7:37 pm Plaats een reactie

This article has been superseded by the following article:

For quite some time, I have been looking for a fine way to start applications remotely – using my laptop downstairs, and wanting to access, for instance, my computer in the attic, which holds my financial data and my personal e-mail. I wouldn’t want to go to the attic every time I want to check some financial data, or check my e-mail. I want to access those data from my laptop.  The solution that is described in this short blog is neither revolutionary, nor does it require extensive knowledge of how to edit configuration files, neither does it require opening specific ports in an Ubuntu firewall. It just uses some software pieces that are intended exactly to do what I want: start a Linux application remotely from another computer, “pulling” the screen of the remote computer towards my laptop, at acceptable speed.

Here is how to do it.

First of all, for the machine that you want to access remotely, install the ssh package. It is available in Synaptic (System -> Management -> Synaptic Package Manager, look for ssh). Install it. This package will allow you to remotely access your computer from another location on your network straigtaway. On the computer that you will be using to access the remote computer, install the putty package, which, for Ubuntu, is available in Synaptic as well. PuTTY will allow you to access your remote computer, entering the ip address of the remote computer in the connection screen. A PuTTY session is really simply a non-graphical terminal sessionto the remote computer. Now to be able to start applications in a graphical way from that puTTY session, the only thing you will need to do is enable X11 forwarding. Just do the following: click on SSH -> X11 Enable X11 forwarding. This way, you will litterally pull all screens that you want for graphical applications (e.g. the  evolution e-mail program). Now, when entering the evolution & command into the PuTTY session…you will have your Evolution screen right available in your current desktop session. The & at the end of the evolution command is just to regain access to the PuTTY terminal prompt.  Check it out!


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