Mucsremote

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About

This solution allows users at home or in the dorms to remotely login to their CSSE UNIX accounts on rockhopper.monmouth.edu and opus.monmouth.edu (linuxlab). The remote login desktop sessions are the same as the sessions in the Linux labs (HH 305 and HH 310), including personal file space. See the image below.

click for larger size

DISCLAIMER: The performance of the remote desktop session might be passable for running editors like gedit and maybe a terminal window or two. Don't expect to be able to view youtube videos or run games smoothly using this.

Requirements

  • Some version of Windows which is connected to the Internet, on which you can install software
    • For non-Windows versions of this software, email jchung@monmouth.edu
  • LAN access from the dorms or at least DSL-level broadband if you are at home
  • About 1.8 MB of free disk space
  • (Optional) A portable USB storage device IF installing non-company or non-government software on a non-personal computer is a problem

Installing and Running

1) Download http://rockhopper.monmouth.edu/~jchung/download/mucsremote_setup.exe (~670 KB). Run the mucsremote_setup.exe program. For the Linux/UNIX/Mac versions, ask jchung@monmouth.edu .

2) The setup program should create a Start Menu group called "MUCSremote" and the \MUCSremote directory containing the following files

README.txt
getkey.bat  <==
psftp.exe
psftp_script
putty.exe
sleep.exe
unins000.dat
unins000.exe
vnc4viewer.exe
vnclinuxlab.bat
vnclinuxlab_big.bat
vncrockhopper.bat
vncrockhopper_big.bat
vncrockhopper.url

3) After the Setup is complete, you MUST first run

     Windows Start Menu => MUCSremote => getkey

(or the \MUCSremote\getkey.bat batch file) to retrieve the key file. When running getkey, answer yes (y) to any question, and type in your UNIX userid and password when prompted. This should retrieve two key files with the .ppk extension and save them to the \MUCSremote folder.

You should only have to run getkey once unless the key file changes at some future date.

(If step 3 fails and the getkey process just seems to hang, contact jchung@monmouth.edu for the key.)

4) From the MUCSremote Start Menu run either "rockhopper <window size>" or "linuxlab <window size>". A X Window login screen should show up in a VNC Viewer window a few seconds later. There are currently two choices for <window size>: 1200x680 and 1200x864.

(Optional) Installing and Running on a portable USB storage device

After completing the Setup on your Windows PC, including running "getkey" (steps 1 - 3 above), copy the entire \MUCSremote folder from your Windows boot disk (typically C:) to the Windows drive letter assigned to your portable USB drive. Run one of the \MUCSremote\vnc....bat batch files to start a remote login session.

FAQ

Q. Where's the Linux/UNIX/Mac version?

A. Those are available on request. Ask jchung@monmouth.edu.

Q. When I type in my UNIX password, nothing shows up on the screen. Is something wrong?

A. No. Some logins just do not echo anything to the screen when you type in your password.
   Just finish typing in your password and hit the Enter key.

Q. When I login to rockhopper, I get a message that my password is set to expire, and the login process doesn't seem to progress. What's happening?

A. To get rid of this message, you should go to
   http://wlb-iis-01.monmouth.edu/resources/campus_technology/bluehawk/default.asp
   and use the form there to change your password.

Q. I get weird, washed-out looking colors in my VNC Viewer window. What's with that?

A. Currently, the VNC Viewer included with MUCSremote sets its "colour level"
   to 8-bits (256 colors) to try to maximize performance. If you want to manually
   change the color level, right-click on the VNC Viewer window title bar and
   choose Options... and then choose the colour level that you'd like
   to try. Just be aware that increasing the colour level will probably increase
   screen lag. Conversely, to decrease screen lag, try decreasing the colour level.

Q. How do I get a shared clipboard so I can copy/paste text to and from the VNC remote login window?

A. After you login in the VNC window, start a Terminal and run the 'vncconfig' command,
   and leave it running. This will enable simple copy/paste of text (no images).

Q. How do I transfer files and folders to and from the VNC remote login session?

A. This can be accomplished using a separate file transfer program. See
   Remote_file_management.

Q. How does this work? Is this secure?

A. MUCSremote essentially creates a VNC connection through a
   strongly encrypted and compressed SSH tunnel. This is similar
   to the approach described at
   http://martybugs.net/smoothwall/puttyvnc.cgi . Once they have
   downloaded the necessary ssh private key, all users of MUCSremote
   create the tunnel using our csremote UNIX account. The
   csremote account is a very limited account with no usable UNIX
   shell that can only be used to create the SSH tunnel needed for
   this solution to work. Once the SSH tunnel is established, the VNC
   protocol is used so that users are presented with a GDM, KDM or XDM
   login window as described at
   http://www.fedoraforum.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-1606.html .
   The user's entire session (from login to logout) is tunneled
   through SSH, making this much more secure than a direct VNC
   connection.

Q. Is this some kind of remote control or peer-to-peer file sharing program?

A. No. It is a solution for remote UNIX desktop access. Though VNC can be
   and is used as a protocol for remote control/administration of Windows
   machines, in MUCSremote, VNC is being used as a means of remotely logging
   into MUCS UNIX accounts to run GUI applications such as editors and
   IDEs.

Changelog

08/23/12

MUCSremote 2.3. Substituted opus server for cslin01 (linuxlab). Modified getkey to retrieve both rockhopper and opus keys. Modified vnc screen resolutions to work better with wide displays and laptops.

08/01/08

Added "WorkingDir: {app}" to [Icons] section of Inno Setup script. Batch file shortcuts now actually work if installed on non-C: drive letter.

07/29/08

MUCSremote 2.2. Split up into normal and large window sizes for those who want >1024x768 desktops. Normal window size = 1024x768, and large window size = 1152x864. Turned off vncviewer autoselection of display depth. Made 8 bits (256 colors) the default display depth. Changed csremote private key.

09/07/07

Changed name to MUCSremote. Made setup program more featureful.

01/29/07

Csremote 2.1. Added DOS sleep.exe to setup archive after it mysteriously disappeared after some Windows Updates. Duh!

10/27/06

Csremote 2.0 first announced here.

Feedback

This solution is still somewhat experimental and has rough edges. Email feedback to jchung@monmouth.edu .