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Ubuntu - Remote assistance, the very simple way with Gitso

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Ubuntu

If you are part of the Ubuntu herd, you may have already converted some friends or relatives to the joy of linux freedom.

Then comes the time of remote assistance, where you have to understand over the phone what is happening on a remote screen with the person seeking for help giving you these very detailled explainations "It is not working any more. Yesterday it was ok. What to do ?".

A remote desktop like VNC can be a very effective answer to that need, but it has 2 main drawbacks :

  • it is complicated to configure and setup for a non technician
  • is does not go thru NAT firewall that easily, needing some port forwarding

ubuntu-gitso-logoA very simple tool called Gitso can be a very good answer to these 2 problems, as it is a multi-platform reverse VNC remote desktop and it is extremely easy to setup.

As it is a reverse VNC server, the person who needs support (who is not a computer person and most of the time doesn't even know what a firewall is) will initiate the connexion. So the firewall configuration will be fully on your side.

This article explains how to install Gitso on both computers so that starting a remote assistance between 2 Ubuntu desktop becomes as easy as possible. It has been tested under Ubuntu 11.04 & 12.04, but it should work with and type of Debian or Ubuntu flavoured distribution.

1. Install Gitso on both Computers

To install Gitso is extremely simple.

You just need to install some dependencies and to download and install latest package from Gitso site :

# sudo apt-get install x11vnc xtightvncviewer python-wxtools
# wget http://gitso.googlecode.com/files/gitso_0.6.2_all.deb
# sudo dpkg -i gitso_0.6.2_all.deb

Gitso is now accessible from Applications / Internet

2. Configure Helper NAT Firewall

Gitso is using a reverse VNC connexion, so that the person needing assistance will initiate the connexion.

This means that you, as the helping person, need to configure your NAT firewall to do some port forwarding to your workstation.

As Gitso is using standard VNC port, you need to forward port 5500 TCP.

3. Give Assistance

Everything is now ready to start a remote assistance session :

  1. First, as a helping person, start Gitso selecting Give support
  2. Next, the person asking for help starts Gitso selecting Get help with your public.ip.address or fully.qualified.dns

You should now be in front of the remote computer desktop ...

Isn't it too simple ?

4. Pre-configure Remote Computer

To simplify even more the task for the person seeking for assistance, if you have a fully qualified DNS name (even dynamic DNS), you can pre-configure Gitso on the remote computer to automatically connect to your computer.

Simply update the launcher command line with gitso --connect youraddress.dyndns.org

On the remote computer, Gitso will automatically start a reverse VNC connexion to your computer without asking anything to the person seeking for assistance.

 

Hope it helps.

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This article is published "as is", without any warranty that it will work for your specific need.
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