(Almost) One click remote control for free

Ultravnc is now out as version 1.0 as opposed to being in permanent beta and one really cool feature is the use of a small exe that you can put on a web server, get people to download and run it (yes I know that *could* be a problem but then again if you are going to let someone remote control your pc then you have that trust already implied) and it opens up a reverse vnc session to your listening vnc console on the desktop. You agree to the session and you then have remote control of their desktop.
From a quick play that i had this afternoon, this SingleClick feature worked really well.
The instructions for doing this are not very well documented in my opinion so here is how to get it working (quickly). I’ll update more once I get more experience with the application.

Follow the instructions at the official page but use these notes too.
1a. Download and install the stable version onto the pc that you are going to be controlling from (technicians pc)
2. The logo.bmp gets displayed in the far right of the application so you may want to have this as your company logo or add some more instructions (I added my “help me” slogan and domain name in 8pt to the bmp)
3. I didn’t bother (initially) with the encryption as I’ve yet to get this to work. For the ultra paranoid you’ll have to work this out yourself (I just didn’t have time as I needed the remote control capability NOW) Follow the instructions at the plugin page on creating a key. The only drawback that I spotted was that the plugin was put in a subdirectory of ultravnc and needed moving to the ultravnc directory itself.
4. Edit the helpdesk.txt as in the instructions. The changes I made were as follows.

  • Removed the second [HOST] section as this is not needed.
  • Changed the ip address (NOT PORT) in the first [HOST] section and changed the first line to read “Double click here to connect to absoblogginlutely.net support”. The ip address that you need to enter is the WAN/internet ip address of your router/modem. If you don’t have a static ip address then use a dynamic dns service such as dyndns and use the hostname instead.
  • Changed the [TITLE] Section to include absoblogginlutely.net support
  • Amended the TEXTTOP TEXTMIDDLE TEXTBOTTOM sections to have my contact details and to make sure people know to contact me before trying to use the application.
  • Changed the TEXTRMIDDLE and RTOP to include the app name and thanks to ultravnc.
  • Changed TEXTBUTTON to read Homepage and changed WEBPAGE to point to my support page (which will have a link to ultravnc page.
  • Changed TEXTCLOSEBUTTON to Exit

I selected a background from those available (or you could use your own). The one I chose is the blue gradient at http://ultravnc.sourceforge.net/addons/img/bg2.bmp
6 Create a zip file with helpdesk.txt, icon1.ico, icon2.ico, logo.bmp, background.bmp,rc4.key and then upload it to the web page at sc.uvnc.com using the rel1.00 form (the bottom one).
After a couple of seconds a .exe file will be created. Download and save this to your pc. Then upload it to your webspace or email it to your endusers (although the .exe will probably get blocked if you try to email it.)
The enduser will create an incoming session to your pc so you will probably need someway of mapping this within your firewall. I created a portforwarding rule for tcp traffic on port 5500 through to my desktop pc on port 5500. It looks like the traffic only comes from vm.boldcenter.com, which may be a single point of failure, so you could probably lock the rules down to only allow that host in. (Additionally I change my firewall configuration to forward this port to a nonexistant ip address on my lan when I am not using it as my router does not have the option to disable port forwarding without deleting the rule. When I want the configuration to work again I just change the destination ip address back to my desktop pc)
Finally the ultravnc viewerneeds to be running in listen mode.

When the remote pc connects through, the technician will get prompted to accept the call and then they start remote controlling the other pc – works great.
Alternatively you could spend $89 on Helpdeskvnc or the $250 per machine that we used to use with gotomyassist (although the latter is more of an enterprise solution and works within the endusers browser and highly recommended if you have the budget)

Final Program running