Connecting Linux and an XP Machine: Computer Network Help

Learn How To Share Files Through Remote Desktop Access

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Linux and Windows XP: They come from different worlds right? There is no way you can possibly get the two to communicate.... behold the magic of TCP/IP; sure the machines are different but the protocol that allow them to talk remains the same. It's all in the tools and knowing how to use them. This article will teach you how to connect Linux and XP machines.

The following examples use Debian Stable and Windows XP Home Edition, however the basic remote desktop control principles still apply.

Topics of this article will include:

  • Windows File Sharing on a Linux based PC
  • Remote Desktop Access and Administration between a Linux Based PC and a Windows XP based PC

Windows File Sharing on a Linux based PC

Before we begin you will need a few tools. On your Debian machine, open a console window and become root temporarily.

  • At the prompt type: su followed by the super user password. If you do not know this password either skip this part and hope these tools are already installed and you have the appropriate permissions to mount a network drive.... or stop reading now as this probably won't do you a bit of good.
  • If you have entered the correct password your prompt should say something like [email protected] Now we have the authority to add some software, we can do this using one of the best tools for the job. APT debian comes with APT so there should be no need to install it, as it is the default package manager.

Note: APT allows you to install applications directly to your machine from a web server out there in cyberspace. It check dependencies for you so there is less fear of mucking up your computer.Now that were done bragging about the reliability and user-friendliness of APT, lets get on to the task at hand.

  • At the prompt type: apt-get update this way we know we have the latest packages on our machine.
  • Once APT is done making all of your libraries and other software shiny and new type: apt-get install samba and if your plan on connecting to a network printer and printing: apt-get install cupsys cupsys-bsd cupsys-client foomatic-bin samba smbclient gs-esp a2ps
  • With all of this installed walk on over to your Windows XP machine and create or open a Windows Share.

There are two ways to do this on Windows XP Home Edition.

  1. Drag the files and folders you want to share into C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Shared Documents and right click on Shared Documents. If you have a small network of people you know and trust and your firewall is tight, then you might want to check Allow Network Users to Change My Files. If not then make sure this is disabled as it will allow people to add files and folders and delete files and folders. For added security you may wish to change this folder to READ ONLY, as users who have downloaded your files may change the attributes once they have the file on their local machine.
  2. Right click ANY folder (preferably the one you have files you would like to share) on your computer and choose Sharing and Security. You will see a check box, click it. If you choose you may change the share name so that it is shorter or easier to remember. Windows XP will advice you against sharing in this manner and assert that if you know what you are doing to go ahead. If you have set files and folders in your XP Profile to be private you cannot share files in your profile folder this way, you or your administrator will need to disable privacy (I advise against) and now you have a shared folder.

Let's go back to our Linux Machine.

Now since this is the GUI generation I won't bore you with the details of the command-line utility SMBClient but rather I'll give you instruction on using KDE to connect to your windows machine.

The default file manager for KDE is Konquerer. Go ahead and run Konquerer now.

  • In the location bar or address bar type: smb: //mywindowsmachinesname/ or smb: //mywindowsmachines LAN IP/
    In the window you should now see a folder with the name of your Windows XP share. You may now browse this folder as if it were on the local machine!

Remote Desktop Administration between a Linux Based PC and a Windows XP based PC.

When operating a computer network, there are many times we have the need to take complete control of a machine on our network, sometimes there is a person in the office that needs pc help and since they are six floors down it is just easier to take over their desktop until the task is complete and then return control to the local user, or sometimes we may be far away and need to access a machine at home. Other times you are like me and really don't feel like walking into the next room. Behold TightVNC. Its free and easy to use.

  • You will need some tools again.

For your Windows XP machine you will need the TightVNC viewer and Server you can go here and grab that. Download the tightvnc-1.2.9-setup.exe package as it contains everything you need to get started.

  • for your Debian machine type: apt-get install vncserver and then apt-get install vncviewer
  • Connecting to the windows machine from the Linux machine is quite simple. Make sure you are in X-Windows or KDE and open a console. Type vncviewer and a GUI windows should appear that says VNC Server. If the VNCServer is runing on your windows machine, simply type the Local IP address of Windows machine. You should see your Windows Desktop appear before your eyes! You can control the mouse and keyboard just as it you were sitting at the Windows Machine itself!
  • Connecting to the Linux machine is a bit trickier but certainly not harder. Since Debian allows multiple users to utilize X Display the GUI at the same time, you can make vncserver setup a new X Display. at the prompt type vncserver
    It will ask for a password to protect the session from intruders. This will be your default password until you change it (see documentation that comes with VNCServer)

    It will tell that the server listening on display :1 not display :0 which belongs to the primary X Server.

  • On your Windows Machine click start-->run--> all programs-->TightVNC-->TightVNC Fast Compression.
  • A pop up will appear that say VNC Server: Type in the box linuxmachine Local IP Address:1 and enter the password for the VNCSession. Viola! Linux Desktop!


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