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How do I connect a Windows Machine to a Linux Machine so that the Linux machine controls the Windows one without internet?

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Last Modified: 2013-11-09
Somehow, I thought this would be easier!

There is a Windows XP SP1 computer at the front of our church. It holds songs, karaoke, Powerpoints, etc. We're trying to find a way for someone to control that machine in the back of the church as now, our music director and pastor have to use a wireless presenter to advance slides, choose the next songs, close it down, etc.

I bought a cheap computer with the intent of installing Ubuntu for the sole purpose of controlling the Windows machine. That's it. We bought a 100ft Cat5e patch cable (because I had heard that operating systems now don't care if it's patch or crossover as much as they used to) and hooked up both machines to the same cable as we do not have internet. I had seen two computers hooked up similarly in another office (but they were both using XP), so I thought it wouldn't be too bad.

I tried to set the Windows machine's IP address to 192.168.254.2 and the Ubuntu computer's IP address to 192.168.254.3. Both have a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 and a gateway of 192.168.254.1.

I installed the tightVNC client on the Windows machine thinking that this would be the best way to handle it. Ubuntu comes with Xvncviewer installed, so I planned to use that.

However, I can't get the two to connect. For my questions:

1. Do I need crossover cable? If so, I saw an adapter that essentially does the same thing as I don't want to run another cable through the roof of our church.

2. How do I get the Windows machine's local area connection to accept that it's 192.168.254.2? The closest I could get was to get the network bridge to have that address, but the local area connection never would acknowledge that a cable was plugged in.

3. Is there an easier way than what I'm thinking?

Ultimately, all I want is for me to be able to see the Windows machine on the Linux desktop so that I can control the powerpoint slides, music, etc. However, I want to still give them the opportunity to use the presenter and still have full control over the Windows machine from the front of the church. Wireless wasn't as effective as we'd hoped. That's why I went the remote desktop route.

Any help will be appreciated! Thanks!
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Top Expert 2014

Commented:
Can you ping the Windows box from the Linux (Ubuntu) box.

OS's don't care about crossover or straigtt cables, they don't even care about cables, but NIC cards do.   You need crossover cables if you directly connect the two PC's/

The VNC will work, however I personally enable Windows XP's remote desktop and I use rdesktop from Linux.

Author

Commented:
No, I tried that, but it didn't work.

Author

Commented:
Sorry, let me clarify. I tried pinging the Windows box, and it didn't work. I haven't tried rdesktop yet. I'm not very familiar with remote desktop operations, and I had heard about VNC and thought it the way to go.
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Commented:
giltjr is correct, the cable needs to be crossover

Commented:
Windows and Linux will talk through a Protocol. the most used one is TCP/IP.
Set them up with their IP's and use some sort of Remote software. But ping is the bet utility to check the network is working. use a crossover for a PC2PC connection.

Commented:
Forget the crossover cable.  You can buy a cheap 4-port hub for less than a crossover cable in most cases.

You already have your long patch cable, just plug  it into the new hub and get a short patch cable and plug it between the Unbutu system and the hub.  You should now be able to ping the remote Windows box and then you should be able to connect with XVNCViewer.

You said you installed VNC "CLIENT" on the Windows box.  You need the VNC SERVER component, not the client.  Be sure you're installed the right thing...
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Commented:
Check the firewall settings on the WinXP Machine. Turn firewall off if the only connection will be a crossover cable to your other computer. But if you have internet connection, Turn the firewall off to test, then if it works you should turn the firewall on but tweak the settings.

Author

Commented:
Thanks to all who responded. I'm going to price the cost of a hub versus the crossover adapter, and once I pick that up, I'm going to try again.

Btw, just to answer a few questions:

1. I did install the VNC server on the windows machine
2. No firewall is on the Windows machine. If one is on the Ubuntu box, I didn't set it.
3. I don't mind VNC or remote desktop. Truth be told, whichever is easier will work for me.
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Commented:
The advantage of a hub or switch is that if needed you could connect more that one computer to the network and you don't need special cables.  Not knowing where you are, in the USA a simple 5 port switch costs about $35-$45.

Since you have VNC installed and ready to go, use it.  

Author

Commented:
I'm in the USA as well, but I don't see us adding another computer any time soon. That, and a crossover adapter is 3 to 7 bucks:

http://www.usbfirewire.com/Parts/rr-et-crossoveradapter.html
http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/tools/7470/

I understand the point about adding another computer, but this is a pretty small church, and we probably wouldn't get a third.

Thanks!
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Commented:
They should work.  One thing that I don't know is if these will allow full duplex operations.  With a switch, you will get 100 Mbps full duplex, which will give you better performance than with half.  I'm not sure with a cross over if the NIC's will work in half or full duplex mode.
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If you have the equipment, you could just cut of the end of the cable and put on a new adapter and cross it over yourself.

Author

Commented:
True, but I don't have the equipment. I think I'll pick up a Superlooper (and a spare for me), and give it a second try. I'm not sure about full duplex either, but as long as I can do what I need to do, it shouldn't be much of a problem. How much bandwidth does it need to advance a powerpoint and to select an mp3?
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Commented:
That is not the issue, the issue is that you are sending a graphical screen across a network connection.  Depending on the screen resolution and color depth, you may or may not notice the difference between full and half duplex.

My guess is that you will get full duplex, as it will appear as if you are connected to a switch.
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Commented:
Duplex is not of concern here, people do remote desktop over dsl lines which as we all know are no where neer LAN speeds, even if he was going 10 mbps at half he would be fine.
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True, but they are normally full dupex.  A slow full duplex link can perform better in some cases than a faster half duplex because you are not waiting for line turn around.  Now I am not saying that 10 Mbps full is better than 100 Mbps half, but 100 full is much better than 100 half and the more the volume the worse half gets.
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Commented:
Undestood. However, i think the user in this case would be happy with a simple connection.

Author

Commented:
Ok, so the Superlooper came in yesterday, and I just tried it again. Now the Windows machine shows a green light in the LAN connection (the Superlooper is connected to the Linux machine) port. I tried pinging the Linux machine and got "Error code 65". I tried pinging the Windows machine from the Linux machine and got "Destination host unreachable".

So it seems that I'm really close, but just need to get that traffic through. Any quick ideas for me to try? Zone Alarm has never been installed on the Windows machine, btw.
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Commented:
It sounds like there is a mismatch on the IP addresses and subnet.

On Windows issue the command ipconfig
On Linux issue the command ifconfig -a

Make sure that they are within the same subnet.

Author

Commented:
Windows:
IP Address: 192.168.254.3
Subnet: 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway: 192.168.254.1

Linux:
Inet addr: 192.168.254.4
Bcast: 192.168.254.255
Mask: 255.255.255.0

Does it seem like the broadcast IP needs to be fixed? I didn't see an entry for gateway in the Linux output, but I will admit a bit of ignorance when it comes to networking.
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Commented:

Author

Commented:
Just tried, and here's the weird thing. I can get the Linux box to ping itself (192.168.254.4) and no other address, which seems right to me (while it's having trouble). I can't get the Windows box to ping itself at all (192.168.254.3). I get the same code, and there are no firewalls. I even disabled the internet firewall / sharing service (It has XPSP1).

I'm beginning to think that I should bring it back here, test to make sure that the network card works, bring it up to SP2, and try again.

Author

Commented:
BTW, for the linux box, I'm assuming no firewalls, but I dont' see one anywhere. I didn't install one, and there are no places where it's evident that a firewall exists. For the Windows computer, I don't see any firewalls and don't remember installing any. I even removed the network bridge, and the local area connection and let the LAC reinstall itself. No dice.
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Commented:
For Linux, it not really called a firewall, but that is what it is.  However, since Windows can't ping itself, then we all can focus on that for now.  Once it can ping itself, if it still can't ping the Linux box, we go through the Linux configuration.

I would suggest that if possible you install SP2 on the Windows box.  Is the Windows box Professional or Home?  On the Window box try to ping the address 127.0.0.1.

Author

Commented:
Ok, I feel like a fool. I just got back from vacation and tackled this again, and I found that somehow, remnants of a VERY old Zone Alarm were still on here. I cleaned them out, and disabled them in services.msc, and now I can ping each other.

So good, step 1 is out of the way. Now I need to figure out how to get the Linux box to remotely control the Windows box. I've tried rdesktop and xvncviewer, but there has got to be something I'm missing. I'm using TightVNC on the Windows box, but I just can't get it to work right. I'll try again...

Author

Commented:
Great! I actually got it to work with Firefox, which isn't the first way I'd go, but it's working. I ended up typing 192.168.254.3:5800 to invoke the Java viewer, and lo and behold it worked. I couldn't get xvncviewer to work, but I'll take this small victory. Now I have to go and set it up at the church, and we'll see if it still works.

Thanks to all who helped.

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