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OpenSUSE is a nice Linux distribution because of its administration tool called YaST. Even if you use openSUSE in text-mode only, YaST is a very friendly system management tool. However, some of us still like the look'n'feel of a window manager like KDE, and sometimes we do not have physical access to the Linux computer. There are solutions like VNC (which is not secure) and VPN (which is hard to set up) that allows us to access the computer remotely.
Recently, I found a "hidden" way to access KDE from another computer. The computer from where I am accessing KDE has Windows Vista Home Premium installed. The Linux computer that I am accessing uses openSUSE 11.1 + KDE. This method, however, should be easy to apply to different system configurations.
The keys to this method are SSH, to make it secure, and the power of the X System, to get KDE working remotely. We are going to forward all the X11 requests from the Linux computer to another computer using SSH tunneling. It sounds easy so far, but the problem comes when we realize that we need an X server to process the requests from the Linux client. Windows, unfortunately, does not have native support for the X System. However, there is a very nice application to add X System functionality to a Windows desktop. It is called Xming and you can download it freely from
The installation is self explanatory. These are the options that I selected for the installation:
Also, instruct the installation program to place a shortcut for XLaunch on the desktop.
Now, the secure part. Make sure that you can access your Linux computer in text mode using SSH. If you can do this, the rest is easy.
First, we need to make sure the SSH server is configured correctly to handle X11 forwarding. I took the following from
1. Open the file /etc/ssh/sshd_config
2. The following lines should be uncommented:
3. Restart the SSH Deamon. In my Linux distribution, you just have to type:
The SSH client that I am using is PuTTY (I assume that you need to have it installed). Click on the XLaunch icon on the desktop. This will open the following window:
Make sure you select "One window". Then, click next.
Select "Start a program" and click next.
Enter "startkde" in the text field "Start program". Select "Using PuTTY (plink.exe)" and fill out the fields as if you were connecting through SSH. Also, select "With compression". Then, click next.
Leave this additional parameters as they are and click next.
Your configuration is finished. Click "Finish" to start KDE. It might take a while before it starts, but it will eventually. One of the disadvantages of this method is that it is very slow, partly because it uses SSH to encrypt the communication and partly because the quality of the graphics is perfect. It might not be very convenient to access this from the WAN, unless you have a really fast internet for both machines.
Something that you might prefer doing is starting individual applications instead of the entire KDE desktop. It makes it significantly faster. In that case, you type a different command (like "firefox") instead of "startkde".
A useful application of this is that you can run YaST in graphical mode by using the commands:
I hope this post was helpful