Are you technical support for your friends and family? TeamViewer makes cross-platform remote support a breeze and is free for private use. Here’s how to install and use it on Linux.
Technical support for cross-platform families
Are you the tech savvy to friends and family when they run into computer difficulties? It’s always nice to help, but anything that makes the job faster and easier is welcome. Trying to talk to someone who is not tech savvy through a simple procedure can be frustrating for both of you. Worse still, it can discourage that person from adopting new technology in the future.
Seeing the problem in person is always helpful, but sometimes that is not possible. That’s where remote access software comes in. It allows you to control the remote machine and use it, more or less, just as you would if you were sitting in front of it.
Obviously you can’t do the physical things like inserting or ejecting USB drives, but it does have a wizard on site that can do those things for you, if necessary.
TeamViewer is a popular desktop sharing and remote access application. It is a closed source commercial product, but it is also free to use in non-commercial environments. You can use it on linux, Windows, MacOS and other operating systems.
RELATED: 5 free remote access tools to connect to a PC or Mac
TeamViewer installation on Linux
We tested the TeamViewer installation on Ubuntu 20.04, Fedora 32 and Manjaro 20.0.1. TeamViewer provides packaged binaries for Ubuntu and Fedora. If you use Manjaro, you can install TeamViewer from the Arch user repository (AUR).
To install TeamViewer on Ubuntu and Fedora, fire up your browser and navigate to TeamViewer Linux download page.
There are links to download Ubuntu DEB files and Fedora RPM files.
Download the appropriate package file. Once the download is complete, locate the package file on your computer (it will probably be in the “Downloads” folder).
This is the Ubuntu package, so the filename on your system may be different. Double-click on the package file, and when the application starts, click “Install.”
In Fedora, your package will look like the image below.
Again, because the file name reflects the version of the TeamViewer application, yours might be different. Double click the RPM file to install it and when the application starts, click “Install”.
In Manjaro we have a little more work to do because we have to install the following dependencies:
sudo pacman -Sy qt5-webkit
sudo pacman -Sy qt5-quickcontrols
After installing the above, start the pamac software manager. If you have not yet enabled AUR support, open the application menu, go to Properties> Preferences and then click on the “AUR” tab. Activate the AUR slider.
Close the preferences window, click the search icon in the main window, and then type “teamviewer.” Select the version you want to install from the list of results.
We download and install the version on top (15.5.3) in Ubuntu and Fedora because it is better to install the latest version.
The people you are helping may be using Windows computers, Macs, or Chromebooks. In all cases, the simplest thing to do is ask them to download the TeamViewer software. They can go to the TeamViewer website, click on the appropriate operating system at the top of the screen, and then download the TeamViewer QuickSupport utility.
On Mac and Windows, they don’t even have to install this, they will just open the downloaded file. On Chromebooks, it has to be installed.
Once the client starts, it looks like the image below. In the middle of the screen, under “Your ID”, there is a number.
Ask your friend or family member to give you this number. The character sequence below is the password, which you will also need.
To connect to a remote computer, start TeamViewer on yours. In GNOME, press the Super key (usually located between Ctrl and Alt, on the left). Start typing “teamviewer” and the TeamViewer icon will appear.
Click on the icon to start TeamViewer. Click “Accept License Agreement”.
The main TeamViewer window appears. Enter the ID number of the person you are helping in the “Member ID” field and then click “Connect”.
Enter the password for the person you are helping and then click “Sign in”.
The other person’s desktop appears in a window and you now have full access to that computer. When you move the mouse over the window, the mouse pointer on the remote computer will do the same.
In the image below, we are connected to a Windows computer.
To reduce network traffic and speed up the connection, you will not see the desktop background, it will be black.
You can access menus, run applications, and use the keyboard in the same way that you would if you were sitting in front of that computer.
There are a couple of noteworthy settings. If you click “View” at the top of the window, a menu appears. You can select the view that best suits the combination of the two desktop resolutions and the size of the window you want to use. The “Climb” option is a good starting point and works best in most situations.
Click on “Actions” to open that menu. If you enable “Send Key Combinations”, your key combinations are sent to the remote computer and not yours. For example, if you press Super + E to open a file explorer window, this will activate on the remote computer, but not yours.
However, when the mouse pointer is outside the TeamViewer window, its key combinations will be applied to your computer.
Less stress, faster solutions
Remote technical support can be challenging. However, a remote access package allows you to find and fix the problem in the shortest time possible. Hopefully, you will be able to get more of your day back and possibly your sanity.
Just keep in mind that TeamViewer is free for non-commercial use only; if you want to use it for your business, you have to buy a license.