Can I manage a Linux server easily from a Windows box?

…submitted by Ed…

Yes and no.

Just *managing* it (at the server console) is fairly straight-forward, even to a beginner. But managing it *easily* from a Windows box means two additional layers of complexity over managing it on the box itself. We need to both a.) be remote, and b.) access it from things that run on Windows. Note that remote management of a Linux box is just made SOOOOOOO much easier if you are doing it from another Linux box, mainly for easy SSH and easy GUI redirection over that SSH. But, since that is not the point here, I move on…

To keep it as brief as possible, I have narrowed it down to three relatively easy options. The fourth option I *was* going to include but left out after further thought is a remotely accessible KVM solution. They are great, but only affordable if you buy one from eBay or something, and I don’t expect that most people would put one in their homes. Anyway, here you go:

  1. Command-line via SSH: If you install a SSH client on your Windows machine, like the free Putty client or if you use Cygwin, then you can form and encrypted command-line session to the host so easily is will make your head spin. And there is almost nothing (in fact, nothing I can think of) that isn’t configurable on a Linux box from the command-line.
  2. GUI redirect to an X-Windows server: If you’re lucky enough.. or UN-lucky enough… to have something like good ol’ Hummingbird (…er… I guess it’s called “Exceed®” now…) or Xming installed on your Windows machine, then you can use it in combination with Putty to launch X-Windows based admin tools (such as Yast2 for Suse) and have the GUI on you screen. Here’s a good tutorial on how to do that.
  3. Web-based via Webmin: Webmin comes with most distros. It’s easy to install and then allows you to administer most of the important services on your machine, at least at the basic level to get you started. It is a PHP-based addition onto the Apache web server. It pretty much works out-of-the-box. You just point a browser at it the default port of 10000 (I recommend changing the default port), and you’re on your way.

So is that easy enough? If not, maybe you should just *try* some of these things while you keep a monitor and keyboard on the Linux box for a while, kinda’ like training wheels. Once you build up enough comfort managing what you can remotely, then you can cut the cord so to speak. Or get just install Linux on your other computers as well, then this is all SOOOOOO much easier… but I already mentioned that…


If you need more detail on anything mentioned here, just drop me a line!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Your Linux Guy .com » Blog Archive » Can I manage a Linux machine easily from a Windows box? (Part II)

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