Remote desktop sessions to your Helsinki University work computer

SnapGene running remotely

If you have a work laptop, you can take it home to do work. But what if you have a desktop computer and need to access it from home? The technology to make this possible exists for more than 20 years, but if you think that University IT has made this easy for you, you would be wrong. In fact, I don't know anybody who knows how to do this easily.


VNC (Virtual Network Computing) via ssh

I am sitting at home and want to use the GUI of my Linux at work. But my work computer which is running the VNC server ( is behind the University firewall. The only connection I can get into the firewall is via one of the university mainframes, e.g. In order to connect using VNC, I need just two commands:

ssh -L
vncviewer localhost:1

Startup script for VNC server

To start up the VNC server automatically as a service during booting, you need this shell script. You probably also can write a much simpler shell script yourself, that does the same job. In fact you will have to as this script is broken on RedHat 9. The simplest shell script is of course the command "vncserver" alone... This script goes into the folder /etc/init.d. Then you make a symbolic link in the directory /etc/rc5.d that points to the script.

VNC server under Suse 9

I tried to use vncserver on Suse 9, but to my surprise upon starting up with "vncserver" and then connecting with the "vncviewer" command I only saw the grey screen and an X terminal. I tried to execute xclock and gaim and they start up nicely. However I would also like to bee able to start up KDE. So I looked into the xstartup file (in the .vnc directory in your home folder) from my old Red Hat 9 install and compared it to the one from my Suse 9 install:

VNC server (aka KDE Desktop Sharing) under Suse 9

Suse 9 has an inbuilt VNC server called KDE Desktop sharing (under the System -> Remote Access menu). It can be configured in the Control Center -> Internet & Network. Unlike when you start up VNC via the command line ("vncserver") this tool doesn't start a new X desktop, but connects to your already existing X desktop. It is possible to run in addition to the inbuilt KDE Desktop Sharing a normal vncserver that starts its own X sessions.

Using ssh in scripts (one-click secure VNC connection using krdc)

Using ssh in scripts (one-click secure VNC connection using krdc) I wanted to establish a VNC connection that is tunneled via ssh and just by one click. I created a shell script with the following content: !/bin/sh ssh -L 5902: -f -N jeltsch@ krdc localhost:2 The ssh connection remains open in the background until the krdc application has finished.

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