Since getting hold of my Chromebook a couple of weeks ago I've been looking to sort out a solution to get remote desktop access to my home machine and corporate terminal server. I spent a fair bit of time playing with thinVNC and thinRDP, and have now had a good look at RemoteSpark to. There are a couple of other solutions too - Ericom's AccessNow and Google's own Chromoting which is still in development. Here's my run down of what I know so far.
All of these solutions require you to install some software on a computer other than your chromebook. This software does 2 things:
1) Translates the RDP or VNC traffic into a HTML5 websocket
There are two ways to remote control a PC - VNC or RDP. From what I can tell, RDP is windows only and VNC has broader usage. I prefer RDP though, as the RDP clients all let you choose your screen resolution, so you don't need to worry about scaling your desktop's display to the widescreen format of your CB.
So, on to the solutions:
RemoteSpark is the best that I've found to date once installed properly - it gives a fast and stable(ish) connection. Connections to other computers are simple and fast - I could bounce off my test server's gateway and over to my company's corporate RDP terminal server with no problems at all.
Having said that, it is tricky to install and there is no way to transfer clipboard or audio, and saving your connection details for future use is way more complicated than it should be. Having said that, once it is working it is more reliable than the other solutions that I've worked with. To Install you need to install Java and a 'SparkGateway' .jar file. RemoteSpark's instructions would have you run this in a command prompt, but a better solution is to use ServiceEx (ServiceEx - Run Applications as a Service
) to run the .jar as a service (Thanks to Walter at RemoteSpark for this excellent tip).
You can then use the RemoteSpark app in the web store to connect to your gateway box, and from there connect to the machine you want to control. The web store app is just a link to Spark View
, and it doesn't remember your connection details so each time you'll need to type in your gateway server, RDP machine name, username and password. You can make your own copy of that web page - it is easy enough to set default values in it this way, but you'll need to find your own web server to publish it on.
If you want to control the gateway computer then you may have problems logging in until you install the gateway software as a service and log off any local connection.
ThinRDP / ThinVNC
I'll explain the differences between these products first.
ThinRDP does a better job of scaling to the chromebook's screen than ThinVNC, and can choose which machine you want to connect to from the client, whereas the ThinVNC solutions don't offer this choice - you set these details up server-side. Otherwise there isn't much difference.
ThinVNC itself comes in two flavours - the AccessPortal allows you to connect to multiple machines using the one gateway, the plain one is just for connecting to the local machine.
The big problem with all of the ThinXXX solutions is I never got the connection to work for more than a few minutes. You might not experience this problem, and in any case I'm sure they will crack it (it seemed more stable for connections using the chrome browser on Windows), but until they do it is unusable for Chromebooks IMHO. I was also unable to get my test server's ThinRDP system to connect to my company's terminal server. I thought this was a firewall problem until RemoteSpark just worked! All of the ThinXXX products are easy to install and setup, and are able to do things like transfer clipboard and choose some keyboard actions from a menu that are tricky to perform on a chromebook (CTRL+ALT... where's DEL?)
Google's solution isn't ready yet - you need to be on a developer 'whitelist' in order to use it. From what I understand the gateway role is played by the Chrome browser, much like Cloud Printing. I'm not at all sure how this translates to connecting to a multiple-user terminal server, but at the moment this cloud solution is vapourware (sorry!) for most of us. If you want to have a go, start here: http://kenny-strawn.blogspot.com/201...romebooks.html
Ericom's AccessNow is a solution that is out there, but I haven't worked with it so can't comment either way. I also understand 'logmein' works from another forum member, but I don't know what technology it uses at the chromebook client.
I'll post up more if/when I learn more, but right now I think I'm happy with RemoteSpark.