Remote desktop software
||It has been suggested that Desktop sharing be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since October 2013.|
In computing, the term remote desktop refers to a software or operating system feature that allows a personal computer's desktop environment to be run remotely on one system (usually a PC, but the concept applies equally to a server), while being displayed on a separate client device. Remote desktop applications have varying features. Some allow attaching to an existing user's session (i.e., a running desktop) and "remote controlling", either displaying the remote control session or blanking the screen. Taking over a desktop remotely is a form of remote administration.
Remote access can also be explained as remote control of a computer by using another device connected via the internet or another network. This is widely used by many computer manufacturers and large businesses' help desks for technical troubleshooting of their customers' problems. There are various professional first-party, third-party, open source, and freeware remote desktop applications, some of which are cross-platform across various versions of Windows, Mac OS X, UNIX, and Linux.
How it works
Remote desktop software captures the mouse and keyboard inputs from the local computer (client) and sends them to the remote computer (server). The remote computer in turn sends the display commands to the local computer. When applications with lots of graphics including video or 3D models need to be controlled remotely, a remote workstation software that sends the pixels rather than the display commands must be used to provide a smooth, like-local experience. HP Remote Graphics Software is one such remote workstation solution.
Remote desktop sharing is accomplished through a common client/server model. The client, or VNC viewer, is installed on a local computer and then connects to the network via a server component, which is installed on a remote computer. In a typical VNC session, all keystrokes and mouse clicks are registered as if the client were actually performing tasks on the end-user machine.
Once the administrator has entered the correct password, the remote desktop software enables that administrator to access the target computer. Then, uploads, downloads, file transfers, and software maintenance can take place. Indeed, software maintenance is one of the most common uses of remote desktop software. Often, the administrator will shut down a malfunctioning software application or install a software upgrade using remote desktop software. This saves the time that it would take the administrator to physically insert a CD into the target computer or to do a manual software upgrade download.
The target computer in a remote desktop scenario is still able to access all of its core functions. Many of these core functions, including the main clipboard, can be shared between target computer and administrator, however. Certain safety features can be built into the remote desktop software protocols such that the administrator is not able to delete or otherwise alter files without the target user’s permission.
A main use of remote desktop software is remote administration and remote implementation. This need stems from the average software buyer being nearly 3x as far away from their vendor in 2014 as they were in 2001. Most remote access software can be used for "headless computers": instead of each computer having its own monitor, keyboard, and mouse, or using a KVM switch, a monitor, keyboard and mouse can be attached to one computer with remote control software, and headless computers controlled by it. The duplicate desktop mode is useful for user support and education. Remote control software combined with telephone communication can be nearly as helpful for novice computer-users as if the support staff were actually there.
Since the advent of cloud computing remote desktop software can be housed on USB hardware devices, allowing users to connect the device to any PC connected to their network or the Internet and recreate their desktop via a connection to the cloud. This model avoids one problem with remote desktop software, which requires the local computer to be switched on at the time when the user wishes to access it remotely. (It is possible with a router with C2S VPN support, and Wake on LAN equipment, to establish a virtual private network (VPN) connection with the router over the Internet if not connected to the LAN, switch on a computer connected to the router, then connect to it.)
Remote desktop products
These are available in three models: hosted service, software, and appliance.
Remote desktop protocols
The main remote desktop protocols in use are:
- Apple Remote Desktop Protocol (ARD) – Original protocol for Apple Remote Desktop on Mac OS X machines.
- Appliance Link Protocol (ALP) – a Sun Microsystems-specific protocol featuring audio (play and record), remote printing, remote USB, accelerated video
- HP Remote Graphics Software (RGS) – a proprietary protocol designed by Hewlett-Packard specifically for high end workstation remoting and collaboration.
- Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) – a proprietary protocol designed by Citrix Systems
- NX technology (NX) – handles remote X Window System connections.
- PC-over-IP (PCoIP) – a proprietary protocol used by VMware (licensed from Teradici)
- Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) – a Windows-specific protocol featuring audio and remote printing
- Remote Frame Buffer Protocol (RFB) – A framebuffer level cross-platform protocol that VNC is based on.
- SPICE (Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments) – remote-display system built for virtual environments by Qumranet, now Red Hat
- Splashtop – a high performance remote desktop protocol developed by Splashtop, fully optimized for hardware (H.264) including Intel / AMD chipsets, NVIDIA / ATI GPU & APU, Qualcomm Snapdragon, and NVIDIA Tegra. By optimizing for different profiles of media codecs, Splashtop can deliver high frame rates with low latency, and also low power consumption.
- X Window System (X11) – a well-established cross-platform protocol mainly used for displaying local applications; X11 has not been network transparent for a long time now, but it is network capable
- Comparison of remote desktop software
- Comparison of Java Remote Desktop projects
- Desktop virtualization
- Remote computer
- Virtual Network Computing (VNC): Making Remote Desktop Sharing Possible. Businessnewsdaily.com (2013-11-07). Retrieved on 2014-02-27.
- "VMware Announces Strategic Licensing and Co-development Agreement with Teradici for True Remote PC User Experience Further Bolstering its vClient Initiative". VMware News Releases. VMware. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Stone, Daniel (2013-01-28). "The real story behind Wayland and X11 linux.conf.au".
- The dictionary definition of remote desktop at Wiktionary