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Old 11-02-2012, 01:23 AM   #1
juvestar15
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Registered: Aug 2005
Location: Australia
Distribution: Debian Sid
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XWindows and connecting from Windows


Hi all,
I'm currently working on a little project at home and was looking for advice on how best to set my Linux install up. I have a netbook which I'm turning into a poor man's media server. I'm sure this will change at some point but for now it's going to be on 24/7 and serve up a bunch of stuff. It's going to hang off the wall in my garage and I don't plan on ever moving unless something goes wrong.

My main PC has Windows installed and I have a VM with Linux on it. What I want to be able to do is remote desktop to the server from Windows preferably and Linux if needs be. My main goal is to make the server as lightweight as possible so I'm trying to find out what I need to install on the server to make this work.

My usual way of doing this would be to install a desktop environment on my server (xfce, lxde, fluxbox... something lightweight) then install XMing on my Windows. Using putty, I would "SSH -X" to my server and launch GUI apps from the command line. Is there a more efficient way of doing it?

I was avoiding remote desktop because I don't really need to access the desktop. Anything I can't do from the command line I can simply do by using only that app. For example, I want to install a bittorrent client on there which I would like to access from my Windows machine. I don't want to load the server's desktop then open the app. I want to simply type "torrentapp" and have it pop up as any other windows would in Windows. The same goes for pretty much every app on the server. They'd all pretty much be short lived session. Most of the time it's modifying files so I can do that by samba sharing the disk and using apps on my desktop to modify them.

Do I need a fully blown desktop environment installed? What's the minimum I could get away with?

I should also add. When the server starts up or is idle... I don't want any XWindows stuff running. Is that possible to and still have it be able to server up XWindows over SSH? Basically I'd like the xserver to only start when I'm using an app remotely, otherwise it should be shut. Is that even possible?

Thanks for your help

Last edited by juvestar15; 11-02-2012 at 01:29 AM.
 
Old 11-02-2012, 01:41 AM   #2
cliffordw
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Registered: Jan 2012
Location: South Africa
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Hi there,

I can't think of any good reason to even run a X11 desktop on the server. To keep the server as lightweight as possibly, it probably doesn't even need to by running X on the console. You should be able to change the default runlevel to not start xdm at all (from 5 to 3 on most distros I think, but could be different for yours).

You could then just use your current mechanism (ssh -X & an X server on Windows) when needed.

If you need occasional access to X on the server, you can start it up by changing runlevels on the fly ("telinit 5" to start X; "telinit 3" to stop it again on my machine) - no need to reconfigure or reboot.

If you do need remote desktop for some reason, check out TeamViewer (http://www.teamviewer.com/).

Regards, Clifford.
 
Old 11-02-2012, 01:48 AM   #3
juvestar15
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Location: Australia
Distribution: Debian Sid
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I'm confused as to what is actually needed on the server itself. Does it need xorg installed? Or do I do a simple server install (not a single xorg/desktop environment app) then just install the GUI apps I require? They won't have dependencies on xorg?
 
Old 11-02-2012, 02:49 AM   #4
cliffordw
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I'm not sure about this, but guess any X apps would have a dependency on the Xorg libraries, which implies you do need to install the X filesets. You don't need to run a X server on your Linux server to use those apps, though.
 
Old 11-02-2012, 10:20 PM   #5
juvestar15
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Registered: Aug 2005
Location: Australia
Distribution: Debian Sid
Posts: 60

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I tried this out last night with a couple of distros. I did server installs (no desktop environment)... installed the app, eg. gedit, it didn't pull in all the xorg stuff and using Xming I was able to load it over SSH with X11 forwarding. Just what I wanted! Thanks.
 
  


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