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Though I'm not necessarily new to Linux, I am new to Linux Mint. I've found that it most resembles Windows XP and thus have a need for it for a friend of mine.
Basically, I suggested that he could setup a beefy Linux box (which had an internet connection) where multiple Windows XP machines (which have no internet) could connect to. They would all be within the same network so there's no need to use something like TeamViewer as it's all local. Each user could connect to their own account (with nobody having access to anyone else's files) and do whatever they want. My friend is very paranoid and only wants the one machine with internet access and the rest to connect to the Linux box so that if one of those people needs to use Firefox or Thunderbird or whatever, they just quickly remote in and get it done.
This is easy enough in Windows and thought it would be relatively easy in Linux, but it doesn't seem so. I've tried installing and using XRDP and using the built-in Remote Desktop Connection in Windows, but when I connect all I get is a black screen with a cursor. Then I tried going the VNC route, but that seems to only work for one user/session and not multiple users able to login to their own accounts.
Is there something I'm missing or is this not quite possible? Do I need to move to Ubuntu Server or something to make this work? I would really prefer to stick with Linux Mint and whatever version that would work best (I'm currently using the default Cinnamon). Any advice or suggestions would be most appreciated. I apologize if this is posted in the wrong section or has been answered before.
RDP makes the common Windows assumption that a computer has one screen and one user. Not a good choice for Linux.
vnc should be fine for multiple users. Each user connects to a different port and X display. Maybe you were trying to connect to the same port. Use vncserver to start your Xvnc instances.
Another method is to install Cygwin-X on each XP system. Then they can log in and seamlessly run local Windows or remote X applications and have cut-and-paste work between them, etc. They can each run a separate xfce desktop on their XP systems if they want.
I appreciate the reply and the clarity between RDP and VNC. But would it be possible to elaborate on the details on setting up VNC properly? I want each Windows user to be able to login to their own Linux user account to be able to keep everything separate (and so they can't see each other's stuff). This would mean all of their own settings, email accounts, web favorites, etc. are saved for their own use. Is this possible or will all sessions be temporary?
EDIT: To further clarify, the Windows machines must stay as-is, nothing can change on them except for the lack of internet connection. The Linux PC will be the users only means to access the internet. Files they need to save or use will be stored on their NAS, so the Linux PC will not be a server or anything, just a way to access the internet for web browsing and email.
Last edited by LittlBUGer; 07-23-2014 at 06:50 PM.
Do you actually need them to have Linux accts? Are they happy just on MSwin or are they going to learn Linux toolset?
If the answers are no & no, you could just use the Linus box as router and mailserver etc. ie just use it as a server and have them do work on their own boxes, with network drives for saving.
You may want to look into Samba for that.
You could even look at ltsp.org for another angle.
He will have a separate hardware firewall and router setup as well as a NAS box. The NAS box may or may not be setup to handle their mail, though I think they will be moving to the 'cloud' for that. This Linux PC will be the only way the Windows users can get to the internet and the only thing they will need it to do is to go online and get email occasionally. The Windows PCs cannot have any internet access, only access to the internal network. The Windows PCs cannot change, they must stay exactly as they are, software and everything (since they work and he doesn't want to mess around with the software). The only thing that will change is the email and internet, as I mentioned.
My friend is the owner of a company. He is very paranoid about people stealing his data, contacts, etc. because it's happened before. He's already locked down the Windows machines so that access from USB is impossible and right now everyone uses Novell to get their email from a local Novell server. I am trying to move him to a more powerful NAS (away from Novell obviously) and move the email to the cloud. By doing this and implementing certain email policies as well as rules on the NAS, he should be pretty locked down for what his employees can and cannot do. Their current Windows PC setup needs to pretty much stay the same other than removing internet access and changing how they get their email and go online. He also very much dislikes Google and Microsoft, hence why I came up with a single Linux box to handle internet related items.
All my friend wanted was to get away from all PCs having access to the internet, upgrade his email server/NAS, and create a single entry/exit point for the internet, as well as securing the whole thing with a powerful hardware firewall/router. Maybe I'm trying too hard...
I figured having a single Linux PC would solve these issues and allow him to have that single point of entry/exit from/to the outside world, but apparently it seems that it may not be possible, or at least not easy enough and a bit sketchy in areas. Or maybe my idea is just completely nuts since it seems nobody can understand what I mean. To me it seems viable and makes sense, but I guess not. Thank you all for the information. I'll let him know we'll probably have to go a different route. I don't know exactly what yet, but I'll try to figure something out...
Last edited by LittlBUGer; 07-24-2014 at 10:07 AM.
Someone helped me come across possibly using either the Linux Terminal Server Project or Xephyr (in multiterminal mode). LTSP is more for Thin Client usage which isn't the case here, and though Xephyr might work, it seems pretty complicated to get going for such a simple use. I might just end up installing VirtualBox and having each person use their own VM or something.
I'm not sure yet, but any further help or advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
It definitely sounds like you want the Linux box to be the router/bridge/firewall, which is perfectly possible (also the email server/gateway).
I guess the NAS can either be connected to directly from the MS boxes, or via a mounted share from the Linus box; your choice I think.
For mounted share, Samba is normal for MS-to-Linux, but NFS is possible; note that the latest Samba v4.x https://www.samba.org/ can also perform Domain controller duties if you want to go to centralized auth/logons etc.
(LTSP can use thick clients; it just started as a thin client project. You don't need to go this route; just another option)
If you really want to make minimal changes to the MS boxes, then just point their LAN cxns at the Linux box and use it as the email server/gateway and ditto for web browser.
See SQUID and related tools for the latter.
The Linux PC won't be a router/firewall/server at all. Email will be hosted in the 'cloud' and he'll have a hardware firewall and router. The computer will only be used so that people can get online with Firefox and can access their email with Thunderbird, that's it. Not sure how I can make that any more clear. The Linux PC does NOT serve anything to anyone. It just allows them to access stuff that's already out on the web, since the users' Windows PC will have no internet.
It doesn't matter though, as I've tried several options, even VirtualBox (the VM will start to load the Linux Mint CD, then just hang), and still have had no success. I'll keep messing around and see what I can do, but I'm not hopeful anymore at this point.
Those programs will be ran from the Linux PC which has internet, yes. Those programs will NOT be on the Windows PCs which will NOT have internet. In order for the users on the Windows PCs to be able to get online or get their email, they will have to remotely connect to the Linux PC (within the internal network) and use the programs from the Linux PC.
I have not had any more time as of yet to test with VirtualBox, but if you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Thank you.
Can you elaborate on what you mean? I've not familiar enough with any of those tools to see what you are getting at. If you mean to install a bunch of software on the Windows machines, then no, that can't be done. I can do whatever is needed for the Linux PC, but the Windows PCs must not be touched (unless absolutely necessary a VNC program like TightVNC).