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Hosting with a Remote Desktop

Mischa's unusual, yet convenient remote desktop hosting method.
Please refer to our "Pragmatic Hosting Guide" for a modern, best practices hosting method. This guide is about my unusual Remote Desktop hosting approach, without SSH, SCP, Terminal, etc.
This is definitely not best practice, and not light on resources. However, it is very easy to use
😄
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Here is a preview of the final result, this is a Google Cloud VM instance, running Debian with a Desktop Environment, which I log into via Google Remote Desktop from my Browser:
A Google Cloud VM instance running with a desktop environment.
This allows for the same workflow as my local machine. I can easily navigate the file system, check resource usage, check on long running tasks, download files with Firefox etc. without worrying about terminal commands.
Ease of use & convenience are more important to me than a few hundred megabytes of storage. But again, this is not best practice.

Installation Instructions

This guide specifically uses Google Cloud, Debian, XFCE and Google Remote Desktop, because this combination was the easiest & most reliable. Feel free to try other methods.
This method is based on Google Cloud's official Guide for using Google Remote Desktop on their VM instances. However, with a few recommendations which I figured out over time:
  • Use at least 15 GB of disk space.
  • Use Debian. Ubuntu did not work for this method.
  • A few install errors are expected, which is why Google has --fix-broken commands in there.
  • Use XFCE as desktop environment. Cinnamon did not work for this.
  • It's useful to also install Firefox, as mentioned in their guide.
After following the Guide, you should be able to log in with Google Remote Desktop.

Extra: File Transfers

Google Remote Desktop's interface has a file transfer feature, which is not that convenient to use.
I found it easier to use any of the popular cloud file sync tools. Mega works great for this, because of official Linux support as well as end-to-end encryption. First install it on your local machine with the official download, and create a folder with a test file. Afterwards install it on the cloud server, with the following steps:
hostnamectl // to see your debian version
// next: use firefox to download the Mega client for Debian 10
sudo apt install /home/USERNAME/Downloads/FILENAME.deb
open via applications->system->megasync

Summary

We've learned how to install a desktop environment on our cloud server, how to log into it via Google Remote Desktop, and how to transfer files to it.
I hope this makes life easier for some of you who aren't that fond of the terminal. We use this method for our Discord Bot (Alan), and a few other tools. You can easily use this for a few game servers as well. But remember, our Pragmatic Hosting Guide is better for serious games.