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I wondered if anyone can suggest a free tool that will allow me to connect to my home development machine, which is behind a NAT'ed firewall owned by my ISP through a server that I lease that is on the public internet.

That is, right now I can't ping my home machine at all, because it's double-NAT'ed, so no matter how many holes I poke in my home firewall, I can't get to it.

I have a server in a datacenter that I could run some sort of "proxy" on, if there was a tool I could install on my home machine that would ping the server occasionally and check for a request to open a channel or something...

Obviously it can be done, since tools like GotoMyPC and Fog Creek's Copilot can do this. I'm just looking for a free alternative.

That way, I could connect to my home dev machine if I'm at a coffee shop somewhere and want to get to files from my laptop.

Thanks!

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I do this with OpenVPN.

I install OpenVPN on my datacenter server, then set up my laptop and the system at home as clients. Once the access rules are set correctly, I can rdesktop from my laptop to home no matter where either is as long as the OpenVPN clients are running. This means the entire rdesktop conversation is tunneled.

Alternatively you could just run the OpenVPN client on your home system, then set up a port-forward on the server which would redirect to the home computer over the OpenVPN connection. That would make your home computer accessible from almost everywhere, but the connection from your rdesktop session to the server would not be tunneled.

Best part of OpenVPN -- no pokey holes in your home firewall, since the OpenVPN connection is initiated by the client.

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Cool! Sounds like exactly what I was looking for. Hopefully OpenVPN is free! –  Sam Schutte Aug 14 '09 at 16:32
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It is indeed free. –  David Mackintosh Aug 14 '09 at 17:54

You can do this with Microsoft Mesh, but the performance of the remote desktop is absolutely abysmal, so I'm not saying you'll want to; it's still beta though, hopefully it will improve.

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Interesting - I hadn't ever heard of that product. –  Sam Schutte Aug 14 '09 at 16:31

Depending on how much access you have on the server, SSH remote port forwarding may be a viable solution. As an example, let's say that I have a server called dev2, and I want to be able to connect to my desktop (Shteef) on port 22.

On Shteef run:

ssh -R 8022:localhost:22 dev2

Leave this command running while you're gone. Once on the coffee shop machine (Coffee69), ssh to dev2:

ssh dev2

And connect to the loopback:

ssh localhost -p 8022

You are now SSH'ed into Shteef. RDP should work as well by simply changing the port numbers.

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Coffee69 - I love it. :) Thanks. This sounds a little more manual than the OpenVPN, but I'll try it if I have problems with OpenVPN. –  Sam Schutte Aug 14 '09 at 16:31
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It is rather manual. I should mention that it is also really rare to see port 22 blocked, while vpn port blocking is quite common. The Phoenix Airport, for example, blocks VPN access, but allows SSH. Go figure. –  Jack M. Aug 14 '09 at 16:35

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