I work for a small software company in London, England. We currently have 4 developers, all of whom are UK-based, but we're located in different parts of the country and we all work from home most of the time. Every developer has a high-performance Windows workstation that lives in the London office, and we access these remotely using GoToMyPC.

Our new requirement is that we'd like to try pair programming, which means 2 developers need to be able to access a single machine at the same time. Both developers need to be able to see the full desktop, but we also need to be able to easily toggle which developer has keyboard/mouse control.

So far, we haven't had a great deal of luck getting this working. Here's what we've tried:

GoToMyPC and UltraVNC Server:

When I'm sitting at my PC in the office, I can share my office PC's screen with another developer using UltraVNC Server. The other developer can take over keyboard and mouse control at will. However, if I'm at home and connecting via GoToMyPC, the other developer can see my office PC's desktop but cannot control the keyboard or mouse (even if the "View only" option is disabled in UltraVNC Viewer). This diagram might help to illustrate the configuration I'm talking about: GoToMyPC and UltraVNC diagram

LogMeIn Pro:

I thought LogMeIn might solve our problem, as it has a desktop sharing feature built in. However, if I'm at home and connecting via LogMeIn, I can't share the desktop of my office PC with anyone. They get an error saying that there's already an active session, or something like that. The desktop sharing feature only seems to work if I'm physically sitting at the host PC.

Other requirements:

  • It probably goes without saying that end-to-end encryption of the internet side of things is a must-have

  • For desktop sharing between machines in the office, security isn't a big concern but quality and performance are

  • Remote access via mobile devices (specifically iPad and iPhone) would be very nice, but is not essential

There are quite a few different remote access and desktop sharing products, and it's occurred to me that it could take a very long time to try all the possible permutations. Hence the question: has anyone managed to get this kind of setup working? If so, what product(s) and/or service(s) did you use?

  • I'm not going to vote to close, but you may get better traction on SuperUser. – gWaldo May 10 '12 at 11:56
  • 1
    I was in some doubt about which site to post this on. It could easily be seen as a question for ServerFault (because it's about remote access), SuperUser (because it's a "power user" thing) or Stack Overflow (because the users are programmers). I went with ServerFault because I figured the community here was most likely to understand the limitations of various remote desktop solutions. Tough call though. – Anodyne May 10 '12 at 14:38
  • This is something that has been debated endlessly in the Metas. Personally, I think that SO is out; just because the users are programmers doesn't mean that it's appropriate there. SF is appropriate not because it's about remote access, but because it's a challenge in Professional Systems Administration. I think that SU is most appropriate because it is functionally single-user machines and applications; While I acknowledge that Desktop Support can be served in SF, functionally it is in the end-user space (regardless of user's occupation.) This could be endlessly debated... – gWaldo May 10 '12 at 16:08

If the office computers are running Windows XP, Windows Vista (gack), or Windows 7 you could RDP to the office computer and start a LogMeIn or GoToMyPC session from within the RDP session. I do this all the time with vendors when I'm getting support for my servers in our remote data center.

This would require a firewall rule on the office firewall allowing inbound RDP traffic to the office computers from the home computers.

  • Thanks, that sounds good - I'll give it a try and see what happens. We only have 1 external IP address, but I think port mapping is easy enough with our firewall. – Anodyne May 10 '12 at 15:11
  • It worked! When I connect via RDP, I can use UltraVNC to share my remote session with colleagues on the same LAN. I wasn't able to do this with GoToMyPC or LogMeIn. Remote Desktop also supports multiple monitors way better than GoToMyPC does. – Anodyne May 12 '12 at 20:58
  • Glad to help... – joeqwerty May 12 '12 at 22:49

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