Can you use your smartphone or tablet in effect as a ‘remote controller’ for your Linux computer? The answer is yes. One way of doing it is via SSH and the command line – but in reality, but it can be far easier to gain access via the graphical desktop. Here’s how to do it…
Knowing when a remote app can help you…
Your aim is to control your computer via a mobile device, so in order to do this you will need to download one (or more) of a number of apps from the Play Store (Android) – or from the Apple Store if you intend to control your computer from an iPhone or iPad.
Remote control software operates on the ‘client/server’ principle. This means that you essentially set up the computer as the server and install client applications on the mobile devices that you want to hook up to it. Depending on their specific capabilities, these apps offer varying degrees of control over your Linux computer.
So before you look more closely at specific apps, it’s useful to think about the scenarios where remote control functionality could prove to be useful in your organisation. It could be, for instance, that you need to start a critical backup but you’re away from the office. You or members of your team may need to access business data and systems remotely – or you may want to perform administration tasks on PCs belonging to team members who work away from the office.
Choosing remote apps to install
When you come to consider remote admin and viewing apps, you’ll find many to choose from – and considerable overlap in terms of functionality. Crucial things to focus on include source, reputation and suitability for use within a commercial environment. So look carefully at the reviews. Are there verifiable testimonials from business users? Are there any reported problems with with functionality and stability? Ease of use is a further consideration; if you download an app that promises to give you easy remote access and control but is difficult to make sense of, you should look elsewhere.
Remote solutions to focus on include the following…
Remotely managing servers
For remotely managing Linux servers – you’ll need an SSH client such as ConnectBot for Android or iSSH for Apple.
Collaborative working and maintenance
Look out for TeamViewer with Remote Touch. It can be useful both for online presentations and meetings and for quickly carrying out maintenance tasks on remote machines.
Available for both Android and iOS, this app is able to scan all devices on the network, showing you host names and addresses of all users. You can access any web interfaces you discover on the network and use it to alert you to any unauthorised systems and services.
Use the remote launcher app to start applications on your Linux PC from a mobile device. You can use this to program time sensitive tasks remotely.
On the admin side, an Android or iOS device can prove to be a highly useful tool for controlling and monitoring a Linux system. But should they be the bedrock of your support system? Performing ad-hoc tasks is one thing, but to ensure your systems get the monitoring, updates and checks needed to ensure stability and minimise the risk of business interruption, they shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for professional support.