Remote desktop solutions - complete(ish) round up - Chromebook Forum : Google Chromebook Forums
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-20-2011, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Remote desktop solutions - complete(ish) round up

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
2) Acts as a web server to serve the HTML5 client and javascript files that your chromebook/browser will run to connect to the web socket.

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
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?)

Chromoting
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.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 03:30 AM Thread Starter
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Citrix have just released their solution. The client is now in the chrome web store here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/d...earch&hcp=main

Some details for how to setup the server side are here (registration required):
Citrix Systems My Citrix

However, I've registered and the download fails
The server solution requires Windows Server 2008 R2, and I'm also very unclear on costs.

I'd expect that the citrix client app is using the new 'native' features added to ChromeOS in the last update so it should offer a better experience than the other solutions out there, but the server requirements are a bit much for home/casual use.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-07-2011, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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*update*

A new version of remotespark is out. The installation now includes the web client, and there are better instructions for setting up remotespark as a service. It is also possible to setup connection profiles for the computers you want to access.

Overall this makes a great solution, but it still has occasional glitches (like if you have a context menu open inside the RDP session when switching tabs) and I can't seem to get clipboard transfer working.

Last edited by russcasey; 09-07-2011 at 04:37 PM.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-08-2011, 03:59 PM
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Very helpful, thanks for the info. I think I'm definitely going to buy a chromebook now, but I'm going to wait and see what ASUS releases (hopefully).
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-28-2012, 01:48 PM
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I tried each of the solutions in the google app store and there isn't anything that works like a Microsoft remote desktop client. I need a client that will enable me to connect to my corporate terminal server. Anyone have a suggestion?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Remote spark can connect a chromebook to any machine using rdp - if you have a windows box in the middle that runs the remotespark software. I have it installed on my workstation at home, and when I'm out and about with the chromebook I can bounce off that to my corporate terminal server.

I've also found that some mobile network connections block the websockets protocol used by remotespark.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-07-2012, 08:17 PM
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I priced AccessNow for our corporate terminal server and it runs around $150 per concurrent client license. It looks like a nice solution, just not an inexpensive solution.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-07-2012, 06:51 AM
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VNC and RDP are quality remote support tools for remote desktop access. I have used other remote support services such as logmeinrescue, gosupportnow, teamviewer etc. to access computers remotely and they are good too.
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