Before we move on, maybe this is a good time to enlighten you all exactly what I am planning to do with this Linux Box. When I embarked on this project, the plan was to build a superfast NAS from scratch and prove that you can do this cheaper than buying an off-the-shelf NAS solution (TheCus, ReadyNAS etc.). However, I completely overspec'ed the machine and therefor decided to use it as a full blown server rather than just a file server. The plan right now is to use it mainly as a Media Server (pics, music and movies) but I have other plans with it which you will learn all about in later posts.

So why am I boring you with these details? Well, I don't want this frankensteinish contraption that I constructed anywhere near my living room, yet that is where I will need to use it the most. My media center is there and that is also were I usually work from using one of my laptops. So the Linux Box is in the garage but I am in the living room, how do I do anything on my Linux machine? That is what this post is all about, remote connection to my server from my laptops.

The first step is to enable VNC on Ubuntu. You do this by selecting system -> preferences -> Remote Desktop:



On the Remote Desktop Preferences window you then tick the box next to "Allow other users to view your desktop" and "Allow other users to control your desktop" and that is it, VNC is now enabled and you can control your linux server from any computer that has a VNC client (see later). You should uncheck the box next to "Ask you for confirmation" because otherwise someone on the server needs to give permission every time somebody tries to connect to it, pretty much defeating the purpose of what I am trying to achieve here. I do recommend thought to require users (that want to connect) to enter a password. This will prompt each user that wants to connect for the password you provide here. If they do not know the password they cannot connect. This is how my preferences look:


Do not worry about the Advanced tab, just close the preferences window and you are done on the server.

Next you need to install a VNC client on each machine you want to connect to linux from. I use VNC Viewer from realvnc.com but you can use any flavor. Once installed, lookup the IP address of your Linux Server by rightclicking on the network icon and select Connection Information:



(You should setup your router so that your server has a fixed IP address or that your DHCP server always gives the same IP address to your server otherwise you IP address will keep changing and you will need to reconfigure the VNC client with the new IP address.)

Now start your VNC client and provide this IP address and you will be prompted for a password. Give the one that you filled in earlier and after a few seconds you will see your Ubuntu desktop in a window. You can now fully control your server through this window as if you were sitting at the server. I absolutely love this feature!

I am aware of the NoMachine (NX) alternative and I am actually using that at work but VNC serves my needs just fine at home and I will stick to that for now.

Next we will apply some magic and wake up our machine using a magic packet! See you then.

2 comments

  1. Maxsell // January 7, 2009 at 12:15 PM  

    Thanks for putting this online. I am looking into putting together a home server with some old hardware I have laying around. I use Ubuntu on my laptop so I have some experience. I will try to use your guide to fill in the spots that I don't have experience with. (Remote Login).

  2. mvilrokx // January 7, 2009 at 12:21 PM  

    Thanks Maxsell.

    Let me know if you need any specific information, might make a good topic for another post.

    I am also writing several articles for another website detailing exactly how I build my server and how I configured it, I will post those as soon as they have them up.