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Remote Access Via Real VNC

Remotely connecting to your user-managed desktop requires a client-server interface, using either Remote Desktop or VNC. Note that the requirements is to have a user-managed machine and Windows 2000/XP or Linux on your client (home) machine.  Windows Remote Desktop works best with Windows XP Service Pack 2 although Service Pack 1 or lower will work. If you don't have Service Pack 2 please read in the Remote Desktop section carefully.  

The machine you wish to connect to will need to run either a Remote Desktop or a VNC server and you may need to install a Remote Desktop or VNC client on the client (home) machine you will be working on (i.e. the one you will be using to connect to your user-managed machine).   Some of the available software options are to use RealVNC, Remote Desktop (Windows only) and/or TightVNC. Note that Remote Desktop comes with Windows XP. The following page describes the procedures of establishing an SSH Tunnel and connecting the client (home) machine to your user-managed machine.

Note: Make sure that if your user-managed machine is using a firewall that it is configured to accept connections on the designated port (Default ports are: 5900 for VNC and 3389 for Remote Desktop). For more on configuring Windows XP firewall click here.

On this page, an instruction of how to remotely access to an ENCS user-managed machine will be shown with VNC server/client application.


On ENCS user-managed machine

1. Installing the remote control server application

Before you start you will need to install and configure your user-managed machine to accept remote sessions, as well as install the client/server applications. The corresponding links are located on the following pages:

  • RealVNC - Windows and Linux client/server application. On ENCS user-managed machine, please download and install the server application, click here.

2. Configuring remote control server application

2a. Allow users to connect remotely

In other to allow remote access to ENCS user-managed machine, this option has to be enable on this machine

    In Windows XP

  • Right click on 'My Computer' -> Properties.
  • Choose tab 'Remote': Enable option 'Allow users to connect remotely to this computer'

    In Windows Vista or Windows 7

  • Right click on 'My Computer' -> Properties -> 'Remote settings'
  • On the windows 'System Properties' -> tab 'Remote'
    • check "Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer"
    • choose "Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)"


If the above option does not show, registry key needs to be modified manually by

  1. Open Command Prompt as an Administrator, then type 'regedit' (without the single quote)
  2. Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server
  3. Set fDenyTSConnections to 0, and create it if necessary. It is set to 1 by default, which disables it.


2b. Check if VNC server service is enable

    Start->Run: type 'services.msc'

    In the pop up 'Services' window: tab 'Standard': make sure VNC Server service startup Type is Automatic. Otherwise, right click on this service -> Properties -> choose Start

In order to establish a successful remote connection there are a few things that need to be noted:

  • When installing and configuring VNC Server make sure you correctly set the security, display, and input options. For information on Windows VNC Server click here and for information on Linux VNC Server click here.

3. Start VNC Server

Start VNC Server on your ENCS user-managed machine, and an VNC incon will appear on in the system tray at the bottom right on the desktop.

Start -> Programs -> RealVNC -> VNC Server (User-Mode) -> Run VNC Server


On your client (home) machine

1. Installing remote client application

  • RealVNC - Windows and Linux client/server application. On ENCS user-managed machine, please download and install the client application (VNC Viewer), click here.
  • When installing the VNC Viewer software on your client machine make sure you do not have the VNC Server installed or running, since you will be connecting to localhost

2. Establish SSH tunnel

a. Establish SSH tunnel using Putty - Windows

An SSH tunnel is necessary to ensure secure communication between the two machines.   Putty will be used as the SSH client software to establish an SSH tunnel.  You can download Putty here. You don't need to install the program; just save the executable in a convenient place like the Desktop.

  1. Double-click the icon of Putty on the Desktop to launch it.
  2. In the Category pane of the application window, select the "Tunnels" option found under Connection->SSH.
  3. In the main pane, in the "Port Forwarding" section, do this:
    1. Add the local port that you would like to forward in "Source port". (Default ports are: 5900 for VNC and 3389 for Remote Desktop).
    2. In "Destination" type the host name of the machine you are remotely connecting to, followed by a colon and then the port number.
  4. Click the Add button.
  5. This is the image of how it should look assuming you're trying to connect to a user-managed machine called venus.encs.concordia.ca:

  1. In the Category pane, click on "Session" at the top and:
    1. Enter the hostname of the machine through which you want to establish your tunnel (use login.encs.concordia.ca).
    2. Select SSH as your protocol. This would set the port number to 22.
  2. Click Save.
  3. Click Open. If Putty warns you about keys, you can click Okay.
  4. Enter your ENCS username and password when prompted.

Note: Next time you do this, you can simply click the Session Name->Load->Open to establish the SSH tunnel. 

b. Establish SSH tunnel - Linux

  1. Open a terminal
  2. Enter  ssh -C -L 5900:host_name:5900 login.encs.concordia.ca, where the port 5900 is the default port for VNC. If using TightVNC the default port is also 5900
  3. Enter your ENCS username and password when prompted.

3. Connect via the VNC Viewer

Once you have established the appropriate tunneling you are ready to establish the VNC desktop connection. For Windows follow these steps:

  1. Run VNC Viewer
  2. Enter localhost::5900 in the server field and click OK.

    If you set the authentication on the ENCS user-managed machine, at this step, after the connection is established, it will prompt you for the password.

  1. To end the remote session close the VNC window. For support pages of VNC Viewer for Windows click here.

In Linux open a terminal and enter: vncviewer localhost::5900 There are more connection options available here.

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