Howto set up remote kde login on debian

Some proofreading may be needed, but the ideas should be clear – I hope.

Using kde 4.6.5

When starting to set up X systems, it is easy to confuse the notion of ‘client’ and ‘server’. Usually we think of the machine we are directly working at as the client and the remote one as the server – which makes sense in most cases – the server is the machine which has the resources that are needed, eg a data base, a web server, or some disks. In the case of an X-system, the server is the machine with the screen and input devices, i.e. the machine on which we are working, whereas the client is a machine that runs a program that is accessing these resources. So the local machine is the server, the remote is the client… I’ll (try to) use the words local and remote to distinguish between the two parties.

In many ways remote X-login is considered an old fashioned tecnology. There are two other thecnologies that are more used now.

Running X over ssh
When logged into the local machine running in an x-application, open an ssh-session to the remote machine,

ssh -Y

Then an application that is run under ssh on the remote machine will display a window on the local one.
This is considered more secure than the traditional x-login, but then it is neccesary to first log in on the local, then start (possibly automatically) an application there to log in to the remote machine. OK for me, not OK for the rest of the family that do want to have things as simple as possible.

rdp – the remote desktop protocol
Run an rdp-server on the remote machine, connect with an rdp-client from the local machine. The rdp-protocol is even supported in windows, with a rdp-client as a standard (although often pretty unknown) application. I do not know anything about the security implications of rdp.
On linux there are a plenty of rdp-clients to choose from, from rdesktop to krdc, a kde-program. I have tried a number of those and have always run into two problems: I have not managed to have them to use my norwegian keyboard, and the colors always looks wrong, eg in a standard kde-setup, all the text in the start-menu disappears. If I manage to resolve those issues and I can make an auto-login on the local machine starting a rdp-client – that may be the best solution.

Setting up remote x-login
As none of the other setups gives the simple “single log on ” that I want, I have to use remote x-logon, over the xmdcp protocol. It is said to be quite unsafe, but I am only using it on my cabel based home network.

On the remote machine:
Edit /etc/kde4/kdm/kdmrc
Under the [Xdmcp]-header set Enable=TRUE
restart kdm an the remote is ready for connections

On the local machine
Edit /etc/kde4/kdm/kdmrc

under # Greeter config for local displays
and set

Restart kdm on the local machine, and you should be met with a list allowing you to select a remote machine to log into, after that, you get the normal kdm-login screen.

It is possible to make the remote machine(s) broadcast their willingness to allow a remote x-login, then it is not neccesary to list their names in ChooserHosts, so far I have not set up that.

What’s next
Maybe look into broadcasting rather than static lists of hosts as I have plans to set up a few old machines as traditional x-terminals.
Definiately look into how to get sound on the local machine. My idea is to use the phonon server over the net, and I think this site may be able to explain me how…

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