Best way to share files - Samba or SSH?

Q I am running Samba on my Linux desktop so that my Windows laptop can access files in the desktop. If I need to access the files on my Linux desktop from another Linux laptop, do I need to run Samba? I tried TightVNC the other day and was able to see the other person's desktop. Can I use it to transfer files like in Samba? I then came across something call KDE Remote Desktop Connection. Is this something like VNC? Which is the preferred method, VNC or Remote Desktop? SSH is something else that I've read about but not tried out yet. Wikipedia states "Secure Shell or SSH is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged using a secure channel between two computers." Does this mean that it is something like Samba that allows a connection between my laptop and desktop or only between Linux computers? Or is it a totally different beast?

A Samba is a server to allow other computers to access files using the Windows SMB and CIFS protocols. Although it was originally intended to make files on a non-Windows computer available on a Windows network, it has grown beyond that. As it is a server, you do not need it running on a computer that is used to access files from a Windows system - you only need the client side of the software, with no server running. The client programs are usually installed by default and are often included in a separate package to avoid the need to install the whole of Samba just to access files from a Windows network.

You can also use Samba to share files between Linux computers. There is a more native method called NFS (Network File System) but if your network contains a mixture of Windows and other operating systems, it is often simpler to stick with Samba for everything. TightVNC, a variant of the original VNC suite, is completely different, allowing remote access to the graphical desktop of another computer. It does not include file transfer facilities because you are doing everything on the remote computer, but using your local keyboard, mouse and monitor. KDE's Remote Desktop Connection is a front-end to both VNC and the Windows Remote Desktop Protocol. It can connect to computers using either method, determining the best protocol to use on each connection. SSH is also different, providing a way of logging in to a command shell on a remote computer using an encrypted connection, making it secure for administrative tasks over an insecure connection, like the internet.

SSH also provides file transfer facilities, through the use of the command line scp and sftp programs. The latter can also be used with graphical file managers. Type stfp://user@domain/path/to/directory into Konqueror's location bar to display the contents of the directory from the remote machine (provided you have SSH login access of course). There is also an SSH program for Windows called Putty (

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