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G'day Everyone, I'm setting up some Debian laptops that will be used outside the office and I will need to remote to them from time to time. They have inbuilt ...
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    Looking for a "Check-In Agent"


    G'day Everyone,

    I'm setting up some Debian laptops that will be used outside the office and I will need to remote to them from time to time.

    They have inbuilt mobile WAN NICs and connect to the internet via these.

    I'm looking for a way to have these laptops check in to a server and publish their public IP automatically, this way I can look them up in a table and remote to their Public IP...

    I've used Kaseya previously (I'd recommend it to anyone...but be very careful with their updates!)...I got the idea for this from that, however I don't need the extra functionality, only to know their IP.

    I'm interested in all ideas you may have about this, I imagine I will need to setup a server for these devices to report to. Possibly a script to send the report with a notification it is online (at regular intervals...using cron)

    Kind of like a dynamic DNS type application but to check in every couple of minutes and report each time of the IP address...

    Sorry if this is in the wrong thread, it kind of belongs in a few different threads.

    Cheers,

    Brad

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    Actually running my own DDNS server with clients is exactly what I need. Anyone got any recommendations for running your own DDNS server?

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    Linux Enthusiast scathefire's Avatar
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    linux user # 503963

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    Linux Enthusiast Mudgen's Avatar
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    What sort of remoting-in do you have in mind? I'm thinking that they're typically going to be behind a NAT/firewall boundary and you won't be able to open connections to them without port forwarding at that demarc. Unless they open a VPN connection or push a connectable ssh tunnel or something like that.

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    scathefire, thanks for the reply. A setup like this would work for the most part, as it will provide an easy means to resolve their IPs...but I'd also like the ability for the clients to report in to a server so I can quickly check which machines are online.

    DDNS is definately the way to go, but I would like to host the DNS server myself as I've already go the domain name and DNS names only need to be served to my internal network.

    Once a client checks in I'm hoping it will leave some sort of timestamp so I can bring it up on a PHP webpage...if the last timestamp from a particular laptop is of a certain age it would then appear to be offline.

    I can do the webpage and the networking of this however I just need a DDNS server and client application that will allow me to perform the rest of what I need to do.

    Reading back over my first post I realise I wasn't exactly clear on these requirements, sorry for that.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mudgen View Post
    What sort of remoting-in do you have in mind? I'm thinking that they're typically going to be behind a NAT/firewall boundary and you won't be able to open connections to them without port forwarding at that demarc. Unless they open a VPN connection or push a connectable ssh tunnel or something like that.
    In most cases these people are on the road and connect via the WWAN connection, this provides them with a public IP direct on their laptop (if I can get it to work under Linux that is).

    I'll be connecting through SSH in most cases...But I'm also debating VNC or x11RDP access using a non-standard port.

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    Linux Enthusiast Mudgen's Avatar
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    Gotcha. I was thinking of Starbucks, guesting on a customer LAN, etc. You may want to incorporate into your checkin process a way to distinguish if they're in that situation, e.g. client-side interface address is different from "seen" address.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudgen View Post
    Gotcha. I was thinking of Starbucks, guesting on a customer LAN, etc. You may want to incorporate into your checkin process a way to distinguish if they're in that situation, e.g. client-side interface address is different from "seen" address.
    Good point, if I check in using the interface IP I could filter private/public IPs on the web interface with an IF statement. This way I can identify if a laptop is online and behind a NAT or not.

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    I must be typing the wrong things in Google because I still can't find a "Check-in" agent, I'd be suprised if someone hasn't made one before.

    I've been thinking about how I could create my own...
    This process to be put in cron job on each laptop:
    - Get all information below and put it in /tmpfs/$hostname.txt
    interface IP address
    public IP address
    uptime
    who (to find out who is logged in and how)
    Disk usage
    - Log onto FTP server
    - If hostname.txt exists, remove
    - upload file to server

    On the server:
    - PHP gets list of $hostname.txt files
    - Steps through each hostname file and performs the following:
    Get time stamp of this file to tell if it is online or not
    Compare interface and public IPs, if they are different than laptop is not accessable
    Get all information and display as an array under hostname

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    Linux Enthusiast Mudgen's Avatar
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    I think what you're seeing (not seeing) reflects the relatively low scaling of Linux laptops in the business world, and the relative ease of scripting what you want to your specific purposes. But if you do it well and share it, you could end up being the guy everyone else finds, and thanks. I do think you're on the right track. You might want to consider a download check while the client is connected to the ftp server, perhaps a tar file to download and unpack in case there are config changes you want to distribute. Could be client specific, a general download for all, or both. I'd do it with a script included in the tarball to be executed, which would be a no-op script if unpacking is all that's necessary. It could also e-mail or otherwise register the results.

    Just thoughts. You know best what you need.

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    That's an awesome idea...I could make individual or network wide configuration changes just by placing a tarball on the ftp server, without the need to log onto clients.

    I'll start small though and get the essentials up and running but that idea could bridge the gap between a remote check-in agent to managed services software eg Kaseya.

    With the above mentioned method provides the public IP so I don't need DDNS, however I still think it would be useful so I don't need to type the public IP everytime I connect to a laptop...Unless if someone knows of a way to launch an application directly from a webpage without ActiveX so it works on multiple platforms?

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