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My grandma has a new PC, but she used to have an old powerbook running MacOS 8.6. She wants to have a simple, easy computer experience, that is fool proof. ...
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    Accessing my grandma's computer remotely


    My grandma has a new PC, but she used to have an old powerbook running MacOS 8.6. She wants to have a simple, easy computer experience, that is fool proof.

    Im setting up a stripped down linux mint (ubuntu variant) install for her, but if there are problems, I want to be able to access her computer remotely from my house (I don't live near her) in case she has problems.

    I want to be able to get into the x server of her computer from my mac at home (if needed I can do it through a linux vm, but that seems impractical.)

    How can I set this up?

    PS: She doesn't know much about computers, so I have to be able to install the remote access software an reliably connect to her computer when need be.

    PSS: Security for the remote connection would be important, but I don't need any fancy stuff.

  2. #2
    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    I have my mother's Linux box set up on vnc.

    Install vnc server on her box and start it by ssh-ing into her computer and running:
    Code:
    vncserver
    It will ask you to create a vnc password. Then, from a java enabled web browser... making sure ports 5901 and 5801 are clear, log in to her computer:
    Code:
    http://her_ip_address:5801
    I t will ask for the vnc password you created, and you're in. Depending on distro, you might just get a simple window manager like twm which is good enough for remote maintenance. If you really need a full fledged Desktop environment, you can change ~/.vnc/xstartup for the DE of your choice.

    If her ISP has her set up on DHCP, which it likely does, she will need to provide you with her current ip address. Make a bookmark in her web browser for WhatIsMyIP.com and instruct her to go to that site, take down the ip address and email it to you before you work on her computer. The other option is to have her ISP assign her a static IP.
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    what do you mean ssh-ing into her computer?

    and when I type http://her_ip_adress:5801 into my browser (or in a shell?), what is the significance of the :5801?

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    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    ssh is secure shell. Pretty much the standard command line way for Linux machines to talk to each other outside of X windows. Most all Linux distros have ssh running by default. You use it to get into another Linux machine by doing from a terminal:
    Code:
    ssh user@their_ip_address
    When you know her ip address, you would contact her machine this way. Here is a good ssh "how to" for you.
    Link
    For the address you put into your web browser, at the end of the ip address and after the colon, you put the port vnc java will use to get in which is 5800. The '1' at the end is the default instance of vnc server running on the server machine.

    If she is using a router, you will need to configure it to forward port 5801 and port 5901 to her machine's ip address given it by the router. 5801 is the port for java and 5901 would be the port for vnc. Both must be open.
    Last edited by Dapper Dan; 10-07-2007 at 03:55 AM.
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    Whenever I try to access the computer, I get the error message "can't access port 22" even though I ran sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT on her computer. I also ran that command for 5801 and 5901.

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    Linux Guru antidrugue's Avatar
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    Another great alternative would be "No Machine". It is totally secure, and much faster than VNC.

    For the server, install "NX Free" on the Linux machine.
    On your Mac, install the "NX Client" to connect to the remote Linux machine.

    To download: NoMachine NX - Download the NX Terminal Server and Remote Access Software

    Here are some instructions.
    "To express yourself in freedom, you must die to everything of yesterday. From the 'old', you derive security; from the 'new', you gain the flow."

    -Bruce Lee

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    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
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    Ubuntu usually requires you to install the openssh package first. It is one of the only distros not to have ssh running by default afaik. I would also recommend setting up a dynamic dns service like dyndns.com or no-ip.com. It will run a very light service on her PC that will update a domain name with the current IP address, allowing you to just remember her domain name, e.g. example.homelinux.org. Both services are free and both are very handy.

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    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antidrugue View Post
    Another great alternative would be "No Machine". It is totally secure, and much faster than VNC.
    I've been experimenting with no machine and so far I love it! It's so much faster and more responsive than vnc, and I like the fact that it is so secure too!
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    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlahBlah_X View Post
    Whenever I try to access the computer, I get the error message "can't access port 22" even though I ran sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT on her computer. I also ran that command for 5801 and 5901.
    Check and see if ssh is running on her machine. Open a terminal on her machine and go:
    Code:
    ssh localhost
    and see if it asks for her password. Is there a router? I forgot you are using a Mac so I'm not sure how you 'ssh' into a Linux machine from Mac. Maybe someone else here knows. Still, you can get vncserver going from her machine. I just thought ssh would be a good way for you to get it going on her box remotely if ever her vncserver was not running, which does happen.

    But she is on Mint right? If so, when you get the port 22 error, are you trying to connect to her machine from inside or outside her LAN? From her machine, run:
    Code:
    netstat -ltun
    and see if port 22 is listed as open and listening. Before you can run the address from your web browser, vncserver must be running from her machine. I think *buntu comes standard without vnc server so to get it:
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install vnc4server
    Once installed, as regular user:
    Code:
     vncserver
    It will ask you to input a password and do it twice. This is the password you will enter when connecting to her machine via your web browser.
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