Linux and Android should work well together. After all, they're pretty much cousins. You've probably heard of apps that let you remotely control an Android device from your desktop. There are also apps that can be used to control a Windows PC from Android.
Linux users don't have to feel excluded. Controlling Linux from Android is just as easy, and we'll show you how.
Why use a remote app?
Since you want to control the computer from a mobile device, in most cases you will need to install additional software on the computer. Most remote control programs (sometimes called "remote desktop software") work on the client / server principle.
For simplification, this means that you have to set up a device as a server (in our case the computer). Then install client apps on all devices you want to connect to them (Android). These client devices offer different levels of control over the device designated as the server.
But why use remote control apps at all? Some of the applications include:
- Perform backups
- Monitor your downloads
- Copy an important file for review or editing
- Confirm the security of your Linux device
- Stop a movie in your Linux media center
- Remote management
- Remote technical support
What can you expect from remote control apps? It depends on the scope of the app:
- Some behave like a distant mouse
- Others offer text entry via the Android keyboard
- Remote apps are available for certain desktop apps
- Desktop sharing apps (mirroring) offer remote access to the entire desktop
Let's take a look at the best Linux remote apps for Android that cover all possible uses.
1. AndroMouse: A remote Linux mouse
If your mouse breaks or your laptop touchpad is broken (or soaked in coffee), a replacement pointing device is of the utmost importance. With AndroMouse you can control Linux, Windows and MacOS systems remotely via WLAN or Bluetooth.
The app is paired with a server application that you must first install on your computer. You can then use AndroMouse as a mouse with gestures to tap, drag and press or as a keyboard. Function keys are supported, and the app also offers remote shutdown, file browsing, and voice commands. Presentation mode can remotely switch slides in public presentations.
To get rid of ads, you can purchase the Pro version. Note that the free and paid apps in the Play Store have different names for some reason. However, you can be sure that they are the same. Alternatives to AndroMouse include Blink Linux Remote Control and DroidMote.
Download: AndroMouse Lite (free) | AndroMouse ($ 1.99)
2. Remote Ripple: Remote Desktop Sharing with VNC
Viewing your remote Linux desktop on an Android phone or tablet is a huge productivity boost. The best way to do this is through VNC (Virtual Network Computing) technology. This enables remote access across networks and uses the RFB (Remote Framebuffer) protocol to share the screen and provide remote access options.
TightVNC is one of the most popular remote desktop applications, and Remote Ripple is the official Android client app. The procedure is simple: install the server on Linux and run the app on Android to establish the connection. Just use this command:
sudo apt install tightvncserver -y
From there, use Remote Ripple to display only the desktop, or open and edit files on it in full control mode. There is a mouse tool that you can use to move the cursor on the desktop. If you want to make a more secure connection, you need the Pro version.
Remote Ripple is not the only VNC viewer. bVNC Secure VNC Viewer supports TightVNC, UltraVNC, TigerVNC and RealVNC. If you prefer an absolutely simple Linux remote control instead, learn how Chrome Remote Desktop works
How to use Chrome Remote Desktop to control your PC from anywhere
. You can also remotely access a Windows desktop from Android.
Download: Remote Ripple Pro ($ 3.99)
3. Unified Remote: Remote file browsing and app launch on Linux
Unified Remote is said to be the complete solution for remote control from Android to Linux. It supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections and works as a mouse, keyboard or gamepad. You need the server app on the desktop, but apart from copying the server address to the client, little configuration is required.
Unified Remote comes with several predefined remote settings. These are intended for popular multimedia apps like VLC as well as for anything else that requires a remote control. However, the strongest feature is the ability to create fully custom function sets to launch and control any app you want.
If this doesn't work for you, there are other options available with customizable remote settings. Check out Home Remote Control and Remote iT.
Download: Unified Remote (free) Unified Remote Full ($ 4.99)
4. VLC remote control: Control the VLC media player with Android
If VLC is your favorite Linux media player, this app is a must. With VLC Remote you can switch to full screen mode, search cover images, manage subtitles, adjust the aspect ratio and change the sound output. Use discs? You can even control DVD and Blu-ray playback.
If you also want to remotely browse files on your Linux system, you can do so with the paid version of VLC Remote.
Alternative media player remote controls for Linux are plentiful in the Play Store. Clementine Remote was developed for the Clementine Music Player. Similarly, MPDroid remotely controls the MPD music server from Linux.
If you're using Kodi as a media center, the Kore app for Android offers full remote control.
Download: VLC Remote Free (Free) | VLC remote control ($ 2.99)
5. JuiceSSH: remote access to Linux files
If desktop sharing is too much of a good thing, but you still want to manage files remotely on Linux, consider SSH. The SSH protocol (Secure Shell) enables Linux remote access
How to set up SSH on Linux and test your setup: A guide for beginners
even from older Android devices. It is an encrypted connection that you can use to manage and troubleshoot a Linux computer or server.
JuiceSSH is an SSH client for Android that supports terminal color schemes, adjustable font size, plugins and gestures. You can password-protect your connection to a Linux computer and create custom profiles ("identities") for each connection. Just make sure you enable SSH remote connections to your Linux PC first.
It is also possible to save session logs and maintain multiple active SSH connections. Additional options for port forwarding, security and synchronization are available through in-app purchases. JuiceSSH is ideal for remote administrators of Linux devices, especially Raspberry Pi and other hobby Linux systems.
Other SSH clients for Android are Connectbot and Termius.
Download: JuiceSSH (free premium version available)
6. Play Linux games remotely on Android
Your Android remote control isn't just limited to productivity and media playback on Linux. With Steam Link, you can even play PC games remotely.
This is an integrated feature of the Steam gaming client that Valve offers to make PC games more accessible. Better still, it means a whole range of top PC games that run on Linux.
With the Steam Link app installed on Android, you can remotely play any game installed on your PC. Just check Activate Remote Play by doing Remote play Steam tab the settings to allow access. For more information, see our guide to playing Steam games on Android.
Download: Steam Link (free)
Remote control Any Linux operation with Android
There are many other apps that you can use to control Linux with an Android device. However, these should make it easier for you to get started.
Are you looking for an Android app to control your media and smart home devices? We'll show you how to use the Peel Smart Remote app to control entertainment. If you want to control other desktop platforms from Android, read how to control your computer remotely from your phone
How to control your computer remotely from your phone
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