How to use GNOME Boxes' remote access capabilities

GNOME Boxes is a simple way to connect to remote systems, both physical and virtual, using various protocols.
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In Part 1 of this series, I introduced GNOME Boxes, an open source virtualization tool maintained by the GNOME Project as part of its GNOME Desktop Environment. The GNOME Project describes Boxes as: "A simple GNOME application to view, access, and manage remote and virtual systems."

In the previous article, I stepped through the process of creating a box running Fedora 30 Workstation. I showed how simple it is to get a box up and running with a wide range of operating systems. However, Boxes is not a one-trick pony; in addition to quickly creating a box locally, you can also connect to remote systems, both physical and virtual, using various protocols. Boxes' main screen then displays both local and remote boxes in a way that brings them together for easier access.

Here in Part 2, I'll cover the remote access capabilities of Boxes. As in Part 1, I'll use Boxes' preferred terminology for a virtual machine, box.

Connect to a remote box

As I wrote previously, when you open Boxes, it displays the main window shown below.

GNOME Boxes Main Window

When you click the New button in the top-left corner, the Create a Box dialog will open.

Creating a new box in GNOME Boxes

Connect with SSH

To connect to a remote system using the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol, click Connect to a remote box.

Connecting to a remote box

Enter the SSH address, for example, ssh://t400f30, and then click Continue.

Configure SSH connection to a remote box

Click Create on the Review screen.

Confirm SSH connection

Boxes will connect to the remote system via SSH, and you can log in as usual. The name of the box derives from the hostname. I recommend changing it in the Properties to something like SSH to t400f30 to be more clear in case you have multiple connections to the same remote system.

Remote console via SSH with Neofetch output display

Connect with VNC

To connect with Virtual Network Computing (VNC), enter the address, such as vnc://t400f30. VNC provides a graphical view of a remote system's desktop.

Remote desktop via VNC with Neofetch output display

Connect with RDP and SPICE

Boxes also supports the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and SPICE protocol; they are used in the same way as VNC and SSH, in that you provide the address of the system to which you want to connect.

Your boxes

As you create boxes and connect to remote systems, the main window will begin to fill and provide a centralized store for all of your boxes. You can also choose to view only your local boxes or only remote boxes. This screen can be configured to view them in two ways: either in a list or as large icons.

Displaying boxes in list view

Displaying boxes with large icons

GNOME Boxes can expedite the deployment of virtual machines, or boxes, on your local Linux system. It's nice to have a combined view of local and remote boxes.

Boxes is possibly the simplest virtualization tool and it's great for people who don't have a lot of time or need for complex configurations.

Alan Formy-Duval Correspondent
Alan has 20 years of IT experience, mostly in the Government and Financial sectors. He started as a Value Added Reseller before moving into Systems Engineering. Alan's background is in high-availability clustered apps. He wrote the 'Users and Groups' and 'Apache and the Web Stack' chapters in the Oracle Press/McGraw Hill 'Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration' book.

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