Chapter 5. Remote Desktop Access
In the enterprise environment, system administrators often
need to deal with a large number of basic problems on users'
machines. Remotely taking control of a user's desktop to fix the
problem, while at the same time training the user how to resolve
the problem for themselves, is an effective and simple way to
handle these types of support scenarios. This chapter describes
how to use vncviewer and
Terminal Server Client to gain remote
access to a user's desktop to aid in the administration of the
Both vncviewer and
Terminal Server Client allow the
administrator to connect to a user's desktop session in a way that
allows both the user and the administrator to simultaneously view
the same desktop screen, including all currently active
applications and actions (such as mouse movements, etc.)
While vncviewer is primarily for
connecting to a Linux desktop, Terminal Server
Client can be used to access both Windows and
These tools only allow you to connect
to a user's existing session. If the user is not logged in, the
connection will fail.
All remote desktop connections described in this chapter use
unencrypted connections, thereby sending
authentication information over the network without encryption.
Their use is therefore recommended only inside a trusted, secure
Before you can gain access to a remote user's desktop, the
user's environment must be configured to allow remote access.
There are different levels of access that a desktop user may
grant to another, ranging from simple viewing of the user's
desktop, to gaining complete control of the desktop.
These different levels of access are configurable through
(the main menu on the
panel) => =>
The default configuration for remote desktop access is shown
in Figure 5-1.
Figure 5-1. Default Remote Desktop Access Control Dialog
As can be seen in the above image, the access can be granted
in a number of ways:
Allow other users to view your desktop
Allow other users to control your desktop
When a user tries to view or control your
For remote administration it is recommended that the
administrator check all the boxes in the Remote Desktop dialog
and set a required password for the administrator to gain
access. This recommended configuration is shown in Figure 5-2.
Figure 5-2. Remote Desktop Access for Administration
With the above access permissions, the administrator
should be able to gain complete access to the user's desktop.
This method has the further benefit that the user can observe
the administrator control the user's desktop in real time.
This technique can be particularly effective when combined
with another simultaneous, synchronous form of communication
(such as a telephone conversation), thereby providing a means
for the user to learn to address the problem by on their own
in the future. In some remote administration cases, however,
it would not be appropriate for the user to take part in the