I take issue with Craig_mcd's comments. VNC is extremely useful, and when piped over ssh, quite secure. It uses better compression than exporting an X display, and offers some features that you can't do with straight X11. It has a server and client for nearly every platform; I use it to administer my office network and servers. I don't know what I would do without it.
The linux install is a breeze too. Read the simple instructions and give it a whirl. I never use the java implementation anymore, but it's pretty neat.....you can use a web browser for the client.
I've never used tight VNC, but I've heard it's very good.
I never questioned vnc's usefullness, just issues regarding security.
No one spoke of using vnc by creating a virtual tunnel through ssh which would obviously sort out the problem with vnc I mentioned.
VNC is nice to use on windows servers (all my 2K servers run vnc with firewall rules allowing certain addresses to connect) but I would never use it on any of my linux servers as I think it is totally unnecessary. I never install xfree86 on any server, it is not needed.
VNC should be ok for an internal network, i would not recommend using it un-encrypted over a public network.
It depends what you prefer.
If you like administration via a user friendly interface, the go with VNC.
If you prefer to use CLI and get your hand a little more dirty, use SSH.
If you want to use VNC, and you have never used it before, have a look at my guide here: http://www.this_site_does_not_exist/viewtopic.php?t=7 it is a basic walk through of how to setup VNC on linux.
I cannot understand how anyone would prefer VNC over X11. The advantage is that it has a client for almost every platform, I'll admit that. But apart from being a fallback when you're on a platform that doesn't have a real X server, I cannot see its advantages. Especially if you use the X network proxy over a compressed SSH connection, it has pretty good overhead, and most of all, it need only relay messages that the programs request, which reduces overhead even more.
slacker, what exactly is it that you can do with VNC that you can't do with X11? I can't think of anything, so please illuminate me.
Of course, the shell beats the living **** out of all these together any day, and with screen it becomes completely invincible, but that's another story.
Thanks for all the help. I found the telnet server and installed that :D . I can't log on as root, but I can do most of the admin, so I've made a real step forward. If I need something more powerful I may try VNC, as the documentation seems reasonable.
okay, VNC over ssh seems reasonable, the only issue is: how do I get that working on windows? I live far away from my parents, but they still want free tech support. I had them install realvnc, and am using that, but it is only protected by a password. I wish there was a way to only use ssh authentication. I know there is a way, but how would I go about it? I know this is a windows question from an (admittedly) "windoz hata" on a linux forum, but I am sure someone has some insight.
Also, you cannot log in to telnet as root. They do that as a security measure.
It is possible to allow root login into a telnet session. I saw the config somewhere recently. If i find it I'll let you know. But you can run su to change to superuser (or any other user) temporarally.
You can set the users that are allowed to login via telnet, can remember the location of the telnet config file. By default most distro's wont let root login via telnet.
I never allow the root account to directly login (localy or remotely), the root account is well know and always a target. Best to create a normal user and then su from that account.
It just make it a bit harder for the s'kiddies out there.
Here's a link for details on setting up vnc and openssh on windows. Hope it is of some use.
aha! I got tightvnc working. and its seems very good. It installs a service in the RH service manager but when you start it from there it doesn't work. Started it from the command line.
and connected in from my xp box. works well. A bit sticky compared to XP's remote desktop but acceptable.