So I'm running Debian 9.0 and I'm looking for a FOSS remote control software that allows me to remotely control other GNU/Linux' as well as Windows machines. Does such a thing exist?
It should be as userfriendly as to allow even tech-unsavvy users seeking help to set it up and if possible only require some password and id to be transmitted between the respective users.

And if not: why not? Isn't it "just" some encrypted connection between two machines over the Internet with standardized commands and protocols to remotely control mouse & keyboard and transfer the machine's graphics surface?

Edit: still looking for more answers, the solutions so far are not appropriate for casual users and require people to be tech-savvy, configure stuff or even use the command line.
To make it clearer: I'm just looking for a simple GUI that's easy / self-explanatory to use just like TeamViewer is no matter what underlying tech it uses - I don't really care about the protocols it uses as long as they are working & secure and the program userfriendly.

  • 1
    if you want a direct connection (which TeamViewer etc. does not!) and tech-unsavy users to be the server, i guess reverse VNC (also called VNCI or VNC incoming) is the solution. Jul 21, 2017 at 17:57
  • Not really needed for Linux - any and all remote administration can be done via SSH, or if you must have a GUI, then X over SSH.
    – ivanivan
    Jul 22, 2017 at 13:54
  • @ivanivan yes, but the tech-unsavy user in front of the server has to setup port-forwarding, or is there something like "reverse SSH" i don't know? Jul 25, 2017 at 10:35
  • @DJCrashdummy - never seen a *nix box that didn't have ssh installed and running...
    – ivanivan
    Jul 25, 2017 at 13:18
  • 1
    @ivanivan for sure, but that wasn't the point of my comment! -- the question is more... how to explain the 90-years-old grandma to setup port-forwarding, that you can use SSH on her pc? ...or even better to avoid this! Jul 25, 2017 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


the basics

  1. the protocol you are looking for, would be VNC for a platform-independent solution.

    • for *nix-environments XoverSSH or X2Go may be a better choice and for a CLI only, SSH is the way to go.
    • maybe for windows RDP is also a better choice.
  2. but VNC has a big advantage for your use-case:
    it features a "reverse connection" to work around a port-forwarding for the server (the machine which should be controlled).

the software

basically Gitso is a nice idea to simplify the process, have one GUI for both sides and the help seeking person needs just to enter the ip/address of the supporter.


as you can see it is also multi-platform available, BUT it is inactive for years now (although there are some forks at github, to mention the most interesting: https://github.com/rastersoft/Gitso). additional there are some issues i experienced, like incorrect display under linux (at least with some other client), connection-errors under windows10 and other shortcomings like unencrypted transfer, etc.

so i decided to use up-to-date and supported software with which i also can control things much better and use all the settings i want to:

  1. as viewer (for linux as asked) i use and would suggest Remmina:

    • it features a bunch of protocols (beside VNCi) via plugins
    • has nice features for managing connections and much more...
  2. as linux-server i use x11vnc:
    it's like the Swiss Army knife of VNC-servers... to just name a few features:

    • it has a GUI and a even more powerful CLI
    • it uses the current display but also can create a new one
    • connections can be encrypted via SSL or also tunneling via SSH is possible
    • it supports authentication for example also via unix-passwords
    • and much more... i highly recommend to read the man-page!
  3. as windows-server i guess UltraVNC:

    • it looks like it's features can compete with x11vnc...
    • and the most important with it's SingleClick-feature you can create an easy to use reverseVNC-version.
    • there is even a walkthrough for creating your own branded UltraVNC SingleClick: https://www.uvnc.com/docs/uvnc-sc.html
  4. as mac-server i have no clue what to use...
    if anyone knows a good one with support for reverse VNC, please leave a comment or add it. thanks!

the usage

  1. i would suggest to use a DDNS-service for your IP, so the tech-unsavvy user doesn't have to change anything. - if not, he has to enter your current ip-adress (which you have to tell him every time), and this can be from server to server more or less complicated...

  2. since we are turning the server-/client-system a bit upside down with reverse VNC, you have to setup a port-forwarding to your machine with the client.

  3. you have to start your "client" first to get it into a kind of listening mode...

  4. and then finally the help seeking person starts his reverse VNC server... and your client will switch from it's listening mode to the usual remote view/control.

    the settings and the start of the server can or even must - since we are talking about different programs - be done in several ways...

    • x11vnc: i don't like the GUI (and guess for really tech-unsavvy users it won't be a pleasure to use) so i switched to the CLI... and now you can do everything you want!
      either simply copy&paste the one-liner, paste it into a little script which the help seeking person just has to start or for the perfectionists "hide" the script and create a launcher which transfers the look and handling into an usual program. --> either way, voila: one click/enter for the user.
    • UltraVNC: somehow you can create your own SingleClick.exe with all settings preset, that the help seeking person just has to start (even no installing required). --> sorry that i can't go into details for UltraVNC but i haven't used it for ages... my noobs and i are happy with linux, so no more need for windows-specials. ;-)

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