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Posted on 2005-04-13
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Hi, I help a small company with IT. They have a fast XP Pro box in their office (on ADSL) with PC Anywhere Host 11.5 loaded. The mobile managers connect with their laptops, or from their homes and (with PC Anywhere remote) and all works a treat. Everyone is on ADSL so speed is fine.

The next stage is that instead of taking turns at controlling and using applications on the Host, the managers all want  simultaneous access to the host and run their different apps - all concurrently. I know that most Remote Control programs only allow ONE person to control the Host at any one time (understandable) so without spending too much $$$, is there any possible solution here?

There's not a lot of money to play with, and by what I can tell all the other major players in the Remote Control software world seem to only support one 'controller / user' of the Host at any one time as well.

Any creative solutions?

Any help at all will be very appreciated

Thanks

Paul

       
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Question by:jesus7
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by:fixnix
ID: 13776933
Replace the OS a nix variant of choice and tunnel X sessions through ssh?

That'd kinda put a damper on running doze apps remotely to say the least...

I can't think of anything that'd be cheap...running win2k server (or 2k3) w/ terminal services would get multi-user remote capabilities...but not exactly cheaply. (depending how you define cheap, that is...but it sounds like they wouldn't want to fork out the buckaroonies for a doze server OS)
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by:Chireru
ID: 13778629
Can you decentralize the applications?  Move them to the desktops and put the backends (like SQL, or files) on the server?  This is the cheapest way to keep your existing environment

The easiest way is to fork out the couple hundred dollars to buy win2k server, which comes with 5 connection licenses.

The cheapest way is to switch to linux or unix and run X.. this becomes even easier if you switch your desktops to linux or unix aswell.. then they can connect to X on a remote machine natively.
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by:jesus7
ID: 13779898
All this may be a little beyond me. I have never entered the Linux / unix world - although it's rather tempting :o)

Hmmm, I see that mutliple and simutaneous Remote Desktop sessions may be possible answer either via

a RDP hack:  see http://profiles.indesolutions.com/paul/tech/archives/000064.html (scroll down half way)

or a program:  see  http://www.thinsoftinc.com/products_winconserver_info.html  - this allows 21 concurrent RDP connections! Wow!

The first is free the second is $$$.

Could this be the simple answer? Security bothers me howver, as I have heard it is best to use Remote Desktop over a VPN with  SSH but I have no idea how to set all that up :o(

 



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by:fixnix
fixnix earned 750 total points
ID: 13780264
wow...looks like a simple answer to me!  I only checked the second link but it looked pretty cool.

As for tunneling RDP through SSH, it's pretty simple since RDP only uses one port.  The only "extra" you'd need to set up is an ssh server (freebie open source one at openssh.org).  The remote computers would then need to use an SSH client to hit the XP box (putty is a popular, free ssh client for windows).

OpenSSH comes with a self-explanatory readme file w/ installation instructions.  To configure the tunnel in putty, there is a "tunnels" section and you'd just put 3389 as the local port and 127.0.0.1:3389 as the remote (3389 is the port RDP uses).

What the tunnel does is sends all traffic going to the local (the computer running putty) port 3389 through ssh to the remote computer...so the remote desktop client would connect to 127.0.0.1 instead of the the remote address.

I've heard of some RDP client versions w/ XP not allowing 127.0.0.1 as an address to connect to, but that's very easy to work around as well.

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by:Chireru
ID: 13780768
For local network, it's generally safe to run RDP without tunneling.  RDP is already encrypted.  The only reason people suggest this is because there is a known man-in-the-middle attack (where, an attacker could hijack the session).  So tunneling is only necessary when they are connecting from outside of the office. (if at all.. many people don't bother)

If you have a router in your office, it may have VPN capabilities.. if so, you can have your managers just connect to the network using VPN.
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by:jesus7
ID: 13785652
Hi, thanks for responses.

Re the VPN, my understanding is that the remote user woudl become part of the local LAN in some mysterious way, and would be able to "see" the network files and shares. However, by just using a VPN connection by itself, my guess is that they wouldn't be able to use say, Word or Excel  unless they still used RDP in conjunction with a VPN?  A VPN would give them access to the raw data files, but not give them the ability to use the application in a true desktop sense.

Have I got this right?

:o)

Hmmm, if the required program was one that simply used drive mapping back to a server, where the programs main .exe file was shared over the LAN to everybody, (with a shortcut to the .exe on desktop) then becoming part of that same LAN via a VPN would provide the remote user the same ability to use such a program as everyone else?

 I know many database driven programs work this way now. If so, then maybe a VPN would be sufficient??

Thanks again,

Paul
   

 

   
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Chireru earned 750 total points
ID: 13790114
VPN: In very simple terms, a VPN connects a computer, whereever it is in the world, onto your network.  From there, they would be able to access your file shares, email, RDP, and other internal servers as though they were physically there.  They could use RDP over VPN to use the server.

What you need to find out is how the program stores it's data... is it in an SQL database, or files in a configured location, or files within the program's directory that are unconfigurable.  Then you need to find out whether the program allows two people can use it at the same time.. if it's SQL, there should be no problems, if it's files, there may be, if it's files in an unconfigurable location, probably not.

From there, if it's SQL or configurable, then you can install the application on the individual PCs, and have them connect to the database, or use files on a mapped drive.  You can have the users VPN in, map the drive, then use the software on their machines (which would use the files or SQL on the server).  If it's an unconfigurable location, you are pretty much out of luck.

Putting the software on the server itself is probably a bad idea... definitely a bad idea for VPN users... each user who runs the program will have to transfer most of it across the network... if the program is, say, 10Mb, then there will be noticeable lag in starting it... for VPN users, if they're on dialup, then it's something like a half an hour they'll have to wait while the program is being transferred, before they can start using it.

Also, before putting VPN in your network, be advised that VPN is a security risk.. it's another way into your network.  It also chews up a great deal of bandwidth, especially with clients configured incorrectly.
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by:jesus7
ID: 13972503
Thanks, comments from both Chireru and Fixnix helped
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