There are many Web OS virtual desktops out there but very few true remote desktops in the sense that they run entirely on a remote server in a similar way to thin clients. I’ve written before about NX, the X over SSH protocol for accessing your Linux desktop over the Internet and there are at least two available remote desktop services that offer a true Linux based remote desktop using NX technology.
Each differs in its approach but in common with both is access to a linux desktop with varying amounts of available storage dependent on a monthly fee paid.
Desktop On Demand, a Gnome based desktop with the ability to sync your documents and and data between your desktop and remote desktop is now available from around £14 per year if you already have access to webdav or similar self supplied remote storage whilst Cosmopod remains free for a KDE 3.x based desktop and 1GB of supplied storage albeit with in-desktop advertising used to offset costs.
Desktop on demand has recently been revamped and the NX client software can run entirely from a USB stick thus making it less dependent on having to install NX on the chosen host computer though firewall port issues may still apply for those accessing via corporate networks.
Speed and responsiveness has also been improved from previous incarnations and is noticeably snappier than when using Cosmopod though the greater availability of software available via Cosmopod helps make up for this.
I’m always been surprised that commercial remote desktop services don’t supply a much lighter desktop alternative such as an XFCE based desktop as this would ease their server load problems greatly and ensure that the remote desktop experience is a speedy and responsive one.
The question is whether a true remote desktop where Internet surfing and application and processing power is handled entirely by a real remote server with the benefits of increased security and privacy are something you need access to rather than setting up your own dedicated linux based (or windows/mac for that matter) desktop with remote access or using one of the many Web OS virtual desktops on offer.Many mobile workers prefer still prefer their own laptop or mobile device especially if access to the Internet isn’t always available.
These are, after all, a managed services and the monthly fee should be thought of more as a paid service covering your IT support , software and storage costs as these desktops can be accessed via quite old and low specification host computers and any NX compatible thin clients.