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What user settings and remote desktop packages are you missing? Usually with Debian, when a package is removed, it does not purge the configuration files. This means, for example, if you install an FTP server and set up your options, connection settings, etc. and then later removed the package, re-installing it picks up your original settings. I'm not sure how well that holds for things like bookmarks, personal settings for KDE apps, etc. but most stuff your settings will still be there when you re-install the package. Updating your kernel shouldn't remove desktop apps, it didn't when I tried it, but it did update a number of other services and core components.
Find out what it is you're needing to put back on, then simply try "apt-get install 'packagename'". Putting the original CD back in would only let you run back through the install again. If it's the base settings that have changed, running "base-config" as root runs back through the basic system setup.
There was on the main menu in Gnome an option to allow people to remotely connect to the desktop (via graphical interface). It really stood out because it's something I use regularly on my windows pc.
After running that line of code, it was gone. Last night I logged into KDE and uninstalled/reinstalled Gnome and I think everyhting came back, but I still cant find that option.
I have tightvnc, vnc4server, linuxvnc and a few others installed from synaptic, but still no luck on the remote desktop.
I'm actually going to try to learn how to use the SSH method for a remote connection... but I have yet to figure out how it works. All I know is that it seems to be more secure than a vnc connection, but I cant figure out how to set it up.
I think you mean grdesktop ? That's used as a remote desktop connection into Windows machines + servers. I found it very useful as I have a couple of dozen of servers at work that managing through destop connection. The others you mentioned are either just for connecting to Linux desktops or you already need things like VNC server running on your remote machines. But, grdesktop sounds like what you're after...
Well that's the idea, but I'd like to connect to my Debian machine from a windows pc. I'd downloaded tsc too thinking it would allow me to do that as well, but it only seems like a one way ride? The grdesktop is nicer than the tsc though, so I'll keep it!!!
OK, glad you liked grdesktop for controlling Windows machines from Linux - I spent a while before I found that as it's crucial for what I do. As for the idea of controlling Debian machine from Windows XP, I'd say VNC is your best bet. I'm pretty sure:
apt-get install vncserver
will get the server installed on your Debian machine. you then download the VNC client from http://www.realvnc.com and enter the IP address of your Linux box. Read the docs for detailed help on configuring the VNC server to add in password control and stuff. If you're trying to do this over the net it's a bit harder to forward the ports from you router into your Debian box to allow a machine to access it across the net, but on a home network it's not that hard to do.