I have a Win XP work laptop with a VPN connection to our corporate network. The laptop is rather old and the screen is very small, so when at home I'd like to use it thru VNC (running Ubuntu).

I'm able to manipulate Network settings and install software on the machine. I'm thinking of using the ethernet port to communicate with my local network and have the VPN connection running over WiFi.

I'm wondering if this can be done in terms of routing.


That depends a lot on the VPN software in use. Some of them explicitly block any access not from the network it is connecting to, even local connections. Others are more permissive about this. If this particular VPN client is of the later type, your plan should work. However, this may violate corporate VPN usage policies.

  • Pretty much says it all. – Skyhawk Jul 30 '10 at 15:18

There might be a simpler and better solution though. The above may still be technically right.

As far as I get it, You want to take Your work laptop home, vpn into the company and simply use the ubuntu rig as large screen (plus inputs).

In this scenario, no blocking should occur as vnc traffic won't traverse the company firewall or vpn software. It would be another thing if Your laptop were locked down, but I don't suppose so, as You are able to install software and alter settings.

For the solution I was writing in the intro: I had a similar case. I decided, VNC used to much bandwidth and was too unresponsive with the large screen, so I enabled Terminal services (remote desktop) on the xp laptop, enabled internet connecion sharing from my wireless internet and allowed terminal services in windows firewall (only for the ethernet port, not for any outgoing connections, esp. wireless).

On ubuntu, the network is detected automatically and i simply use tsclient to connect to a real windows session on the laptop. Even the windows login is done on the ubuntu rig, so i can let the lid of the laptop closed. The ubuntu rig is like a thin client to the xp laptop so to speak.

Be advised that terminal services, especially when used with weak windows passwords, poses a security risk if exposed to open networks. In my scenario, the ethernet port is not in use except for the remote desktop connection. I did not have any problems in 10 Months of use. Also, logins without passwords can't be accessed through terminal services, which may mean, that You have to give login passwords if You haven't. The upside is that You can use a different Login/user for the remote working if You might. I'm running 1920x1080 on a laptop that has a max resolution of 1400x1050, so I made some changes.


As the laptop had a ton of Group policy settings and a prohibitive Windows Firewall none of the options suggested worked for me.

However, TightVNC has a reverse connection mode. I installed TightVNC on the XP laptop and ran vnclient -listen on my Ubuntu box. When I typed the Ubutnu IP on the XP box the desktop showed up. More about reverse connections here.

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