Remote Access for Tech Support

Pretty much every geek has the sad job of being the tech support guy for their family and, if they aren’t nimble, their friends too. This is particularly frustrating when:

  1. they expect you to know everything about their computer when you haven’t used Windows for 10 years
  2. their computer is slow as molasses due to being loaded down with c**pware
  3. you have to do the debugging over the phone

1 and 2 I can’t help with, but 3 I can. If you are a Linux user, and want to support Windows users using a simple graphical remote access system, here’s one way to do it. (Other suggestions welcomed.) The secret is to use UVNC Single Click. However, this system is not very well documented. This is what I did:

  1. Download the “custom.zip” file
  2. Hack the “helpdesk.txt” file inside it (here’s mine), and the logo files as well if you can be bothered (the result will not look particularly pretty however hard you work)
  3. Configure it with your fixed external IP or dynamic DNS, plus a non-standard high-numbered port
  4. Make sure the port you chose is open on your firewall, forwarding to 5500 on your machine
  5. Upload the zip file to UVNC’s .exe maker (the fixed username and password you need are printed on that same page; this may some sort of weird anti-spam thing)
  6. Send the result to your debug-ee (you may need to rename the .exe to .exe.dat or similar to dodge dumb mail filters)
  7. Use “ssvnc” to accept connections. Switch to “listen” mode, turn off SSL (I never got that working).
  8. Tell them to run the .exe and double-click one of the Connect options.
  9. Their desktop should appear in a window on your machine.

7 thoughts on “Remote Access for Tech Support

    • anon: thanks :-). I forgot to mention my strong preference for free software. Although I did look at Copilot. It doesn’t have a Linux version.

  1. Refuse, refuse, refuse!

    After having heard “but it was working before” though “it” was absolutely unrelated to what I was doing, I decided to strictly not touch any other PC than mine anymore.

    • I do try and refuse, although I made a bit of a faux pas once on that score. My dad’s girlfriend lent us her car for two weeks. A month later, she asked for some tech support and I politely said no. In hindsight, a mistake! :-)

  2. I’m right there with you- I’m always having to fix everyone I knows computer! And I can’t believe the amount of bloatware that comes loaded on them these days. I used UVNC back in the days but my company invested in ScreenConnect and they are cool with us using it for those purposes. Lifesaver I tell you!

  3. Most of the people I need to help would never make it past the “now save that file from your email to your desktop and then rename it from .exe.dat to .exe and then run it” step.

    So I just tell them to go to http://join.me