I was recently looking for a decent remote desktop solution for a Linux box I wanted to stuff away in the basement. In the past I’ve used VNC with Linux without much effort, but I’ve always found it to be slow and I don’t like that it connects you to an existing session instead of starting its own.
Some research suggested that FreeNX might be the way to go but further reading showed support for it is fading. Then I got turned on to x2go which appears to be some derivative of NX (I confess to not caring too much about the details).
Using this guide I was able to install the x2go Server without issue. I downloaded a client for my Windows machine and attempted to connect to the box. My result: nothing but a blank screen (showing only the standard Ubuntu background image).
It turns out that Unity (Ubuntu’s much-maligned new desktop) is based on Compiz which is not compatible with NX (so, consequently, x2go). The solution I found was to install a special package called
gnome-session-fallback which will give you a Gnome 3 version of the old, non-Unity desktop. It isn’t fancy, but it works (certainly well enough for my needs).
sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback
That should get the package installed. Next you’ll need to configure the client to launch this desktop instead of the default:
The above image is from the Session Settings dialog of the standard x2goclient, your client may have a different setup. Once this is done, connect as normal and you should now have a functioning desktop.
A few observations from my limited time with it so far:
- It’s fast. Much faster than VNC in my experience.
- Firefox seems to have some issues. Whenever I click a menu, it takes minutes to come up and locks stuff up. I installed Chromium and it doesn’t suffer from the same issue.