One thing that has been on my to do list for a while has been to set up a Virtual Desktop VM on my VM server. So I finally got around to doing it.
Because I plan on accessing it remotely as opposed to just around the house I’ve decided to use the NoMachine NX protocol because in the past I’ve found that NX works well over low bandwidth connections. There’s one thing to keep in mind when choosing a distribution for use with NX – the rush to create style over substance desktops has (for the moment at least) left NX behind thanks to thier reliance on accelerated 3d graphics hardware. Fortunately, sanity prevails over at the Linux Mint and MATE projects and the MATE edition of Linux Mint 13 should provide a “productive, stable and mature” virtual desktop.
It was fairly straightforward to set up. The steps I followed were (roughly)
- Create a virtual disk image in qcow2 format
- Install the OS (I used QEMU’s built in VNC server to do this bit)
- Install openssh server
- Download from NoMachine and then install nxclient, nxnode and nxserver (I’ve decided to go with version 3.5 – version 4 is experimental and it appears that the software is time limited)
- Start the VM with a port forward for the SSH port (I have yet to figure out how to get “proper” networking running with QEMU/KVM)
- On the client, create a new connection to the VM server (using the forwarded port) – remember to set it up so that the entire session is encrypted, that way all the communication will go through the forwarded port that is visible on the local network.
That’s pretty much it. It’s up, running and working well. For those who are concerned about free software purity, there are several fully open source NX server alternatives (the client and server from NoMachine is proprietary software built on top of an open source core).