The Remote of Your Desktop

This is a topic that I was planning to discuss for a rather long time. It is something that will come in handy at a certain point in time.

I assume you know that it is possible to reach your computer from the internet in different kinds of ways. If you keep your home computer running and go to the office you can still reach your home computer. Well, at least if you know the IP address.

I say ‘different kinds of ways’ because you can for example ping you computer, navigate to a website that is running on it but the possibility I like most is the remote desktop.
You can actually log in to your computer and use the graphical interface of the machine. There are a few very simple steps you can follow (I’ll explain your for windows and Linux (I know I know)).

First off, for windows. From version Windows 2000 (and probably before as well, but I honestly can’t remember) each windows computer has a tool called… well… ‘Remote Desktop’.

In windows XP, when you click start >> All Programs >> Accessoires >> Communications >> Remote Desktop Connection (what a path)
Or when you click start >> run and execute the command MSTSC. Following window will open:
In the drop down box you can enter the hostname or IP address of the computer you want to reach.
So one of the things you first need to do to connect to a remote computer is looking up the IP address. If you want the IP address of your home computer you can use this website.
Take it to any other computer, enter it in the box and hit enter.

When you haven’t configured anything on your remote computer the connection will most likely fail. Since (nothing comes without a price, right) there are a few prerequisite steps you need to follow.

I’ll explain you again for windows XP, but trust me for any other windows version it is rather similar. You’ll get it in no time.
Right click ‘My Computer’ and hit properties. Find a tab which is called ‘Remote’. Open it.
Check the 2 boxes you see (by the way, old habits die hard so yes, also here I snatched the images from the internet).

Now, you can select remote users. These are the users you will allow to connect remotely to this computer. The user which you are currently logged on to will have access by default normally.

One more thing! The user you will use to connect remotely MUST have a password defined. Else the user will not be able to log in.

Now normally this should do. However on a default installation of windows the firewall is turned on. You can leave it on if you like but you’ll need to add an exception (if this hasn’t been already done by default).
Open up the configuration screen and navigate to the security center.

Open up the windows firewall

Make sure that in the first tab the ‘don’t allow exceptions’ box is unchecked. Next open up the exceptions tab and add remote desktop:

That’s about it. You are now ready to use remote desktop on windows. Try it. It’s fun… Well for some of us.

Now for Linux this process is a bit different. There are a few ways to set this up. I’ll just explain you the easiest one.
The best thing you can do is download the free edition of VNC. This is remote control software. The idea behind this tool is a bit different than remote desktop. But that would take us too far in the discussion.

So, on the linux machine you want to connect to download and install VNC server (via rpm, apt-get, yum, whatever you please).
Now I suppose there are graphical interfaces for VNC on linux but I’ll explain you by command line anyway. It’s just easier. So open up a terminal once VNC server is installed.

Type the command vncpasswd. You will now the prompted to enter a password. Enter one, confirm it. Write it down on a piece of paper.
This is the password you will be needing to connect to the vnc server.

To start the vncserver, you (normally) just type the command vncserver. Take a note of the output of the command. It will return you a number of a screen. You see something like blabla:12. the :12 means that you can connect to this screen. Normally this will be 0 or 1 or so. But something went wrong here at my end and I got 12 displays.You can’t win ’em all right).

Good, that’s about it. Now on an other computer you need to install VNC viewer. Open up the viewer (whatever way you want). And enter the IP address of the computer you want to connect to followed by the screen number in following format :12. Once again the number prefixed by :.

So you have something like

If the connection goes right you will be prompted for a password. This is the password you configured earlier. Enter it and click ok.

You are now connected. :D

One small note, VNC exists for a lot of platforms. Linux, Windows, MacOS, … And it’s free..! Well the free edition at least. There are also a few paid editions. But why would we do that :D.

Hope it helped!


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