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What is the appropriate Windows XP or later way to summon a remote communications process that would be analogous to inetd on Unix/Linux? For example, how does VNC client connect to the VNC server on Windows? I have an application on Linux that I want to port to Windows XP, this application is a client-server architecture where the client summons the server using inetd.

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Inetd is a "daemon". The equivalent functionality in Windows would be to create a "service".

VNC, in fact, installs as a service.

Common protocols like HTTP, FTP and SMTP are implemented by the "Web publishing service" (IIS), should you choose to enable IIS.

And, of course, you can write, register and enable any service you wish, that does anything you wish. Including listen on a TCP/IP port for incoming client requests.

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Cygwin has xintd ported to windows. I use xMing, for X and cygwin for the rest of my unix tools on win7 and use to on XP. If you are sure that your user base can install cygwin, this may be your easy way to port.

If you want to go the pure windows route build a service

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Right, was aware of Cygwin, but trying to avoid using that due to complexity of installing and distributing such an application, would rather use built in windows functionality. –  WilliamKF Aug 15 '11 at 14:20

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