Wiki Table of Contents

HELP: 1-to-1 Assistance

<This Help file is a copy of the original antiX FAQ last accesssed 20171217>

Conventions

[top]

Note This is additional information
Note This is a tip
Note This is an example configuration or setting

What is 1 to 1 Assistance

[top]

It is a simple way to privately share the desktop of one system with another system.

A system may perform either of two roles:

  • Receive assistance from someone else
  • Provide assistance to someone else

The receiver allows their local desktop to be shared. The provider is allowed to share the remote desktop. Both receiver and provider see the same desktop on their screens.

The receiver and provider make contact across either the internet or local network. The connection is automatically encrypted to provide privacy during the session. The provider can operate the desktop of the receiver system, even though it may be on the other side of the world, or in the same room.

It is self contained. Except for an ISP, connections across the internet do not depend upon the availability of third party services. Creation of external facilities or registration with their providers are not required. Additional financial commitment is not needed.

Typical Use Case

[top]

The user prefers to work by clicking buttons rather than by typing commands. Their interest is in using their system rather than understanding its technicalities. Beyond the applications they normally use day-to-day, they have low levels of confidence in their abilities. When something unforeseen occurs, they rely upon the expertise of someone else to resolve it.

A glitch happens to the system, or the user wants advice/guidance about something they do not know how to do. The user asks someone with the needed expertise for help. Together they agree the best way to fix the glitch, or demonstrate the unknown skill, is by sharing the desktop of the user.

Scenario Private Session via the Internet

  • The receiver system is behind a local network firewall/router that the user cannot or does not want to configure
  • The receiver system might or might not be running a firewall that the user does not want to configure
  • The provider system is behind a local network firewall/router that forwards the required ports to their system
  • If a firewall is running on the provider system, it allows connections to the forwarded ports
  • The receiver and the provider systems are many miles apart and will connect across the internet
  • The connection is automatically encrypted before the 1-to-1 session is allowed to start
  • The session is automatically started and all traffic passes within the encrypted tunnel
  • The receiver operator explicity approves an on-screen request to begin sharing their desktop
  • Transfer of files to/from both systems is enabled
Tip If you are connecting via a local network rather than the internet, there is no need to forward any ports to the provider system. In that case, both provider and receiver systems must be in the same local network i.e. behind the same local network firewall/router.

Receive Assistance

Security Measures

  • Automatically uses reverse SSL to create an encrypted connection
    Alleviates the requirement to independently distribute and verify certificates for every potential receiver system
  • You will explicity approve an on-screen request to begin sharing your desktop
    Gives you the absolute control to grant or deny each session
  • Approval of the on-screen request to begin sharing your desktop is subject to a timeout of approximately 30 seconds
    The connection will automatically close if you do not approve the session

Pre-Connection Requirements

  • The provider system is listening for a connection
  • The provider system operator has supplied you the IP address to contact

Starting Receive Assistance

From the antiX menu select
1-to-1_assistance/1-to-1_assistance.png 1-to-1 Assistance

A window opens asking which mode is wanted.

1-to-1_assistance/r_select_mode_receive.jpg

If a buton is not pressed, Receive is automatically started after a timeout

A window opens asking whether to make your desktop fit within the provider desktop.

1-to-1_assistance/r_select_mode_resize.jpg

If a button is not pressed, Resize is automatically started after a timeout

A window opens asking what IP address to contact

1-to-1_assistance/r_ip_address_to_contact.jpg

Enter the IP Address supplied by the provider system operator

A window opens asking you to approve the sharing of your desktop

1-to-1_assistance/r_approval_to_share_desktop.jpg

Press the Yes button or press the Y key to begin the session

To indicate your desktop is being shared an icon is displayed in the taskbar

1-to-1_assistance/r_icon_taskbar.jpg

Tip Refer to section Fine Tuning for an alternative to an icon in the taskbar

Stopping Receive Assistance

Click on the X11VNC icon in the taskbar to display a popup menu
1-to-1_assistance/r_icon_taskbar_menu.jpg

Select Stop x11vnc to close the session and the connection

Tip If some of the taskbar icon popup menu is hidden off-screen, drag-and-drop the icon from the taskbar to the center of the desktop

Provide Assistance

Security Measures

  • Automatically uses reverse SSL to create an encrypted connection
    Alleviates the requirement to independently distribute and verify certificates for every potential receiver system

Pre-Connection Requirements

  • Your local network firewall/router forwards ports to the provider system
    5500 which is used to listen for a session request from the receiver system
    5900 which is used to share the desktop of the receiver system
  • You have started provider mode before the receiver system requests a connection
  • You have supplied the receiver system operator your external IP address
Note Each firewall/router handles port forwarding in its own way, this means there is no single description that can cover all variations. You should refer to the user manual to do the setting up.
Tip If you are connecting via a local network rather than the internet, there is no need to forward any ports to the provider system.

IP Address

To share the desktop of the receiver system across the internet, a connection must be made to the external IP address of your local network firewall/router. This is different from the internal address it uses on your local network.

A home firewall/router will usually have its external IP address assigned by your ISP. Often the ISP can change this external address without your knowlege and without affecting your access to the internet. This means your external address must be found before each session can be started.

To Discover Your External IP Address

Open a web (internet) browser
Enter the address http://whatismyip.com

Supply the IP address to the person operating the receiver system, via ‘phone, email or some other means.

Tip If you are connecting via a local network rather than the internet, supply to the receiver system operator the IP address of the provider system.

Starting Provide Assistance

From the antiX menu select
1-to-1_assistance/1-to-1_assistance.png 1-to-1 Assistance

A window opens asking which mode is wanted.

1-to-1_assistance/p_select_mode_provide.jpg

Press the Provide button

The first time you run provide mode, a window will open advising you to create the SSL certificate.

1-to-1_assistance/p_certificate_create.jpg

Press the OK button

Either accept the default settings or enter your own

1-to-1_assistance/p_certificate_configure.jpg

Press the Generate Cert button

Note It is important the certificate is saved in the default location, using the default name of listen.pem
Tip A simple way to reconfigure a certificate is to delete listen.pem and listen.crt from the default location.
You will be prompted to create new ones the next time 1-to-1 Assistance is started in provide mode.

Accept or decline the opportunity to view the certificate and key

1-to-1_assistance/p_certificate_view.jpg

A window opens to indicate provide mode is listening for a receiver system to request a connection

1-to-1_assistance/p_listening.jpg

Leave this window running while awaiting a connection request

When you close the listening window, or when the shared desktop session ends, a window opens asking what you want to do

1-to-1_assistance/p_select_listen_or_exit.jpg

Press the Listen button to wait for a further connection request, or the Exit button to close

Utilities Available When Providing Assistance

When the desktop of the receiver is displayed on the screen of the provider, a range of built-in utilities become available.
Move the cursor of the provider system into the shared desktop and press F8.
A popup menu is displayed

1-to-1_assistance/p_utilities_popup_menu.jpg

Select Dismiss popup to close the popup menu
Select Quit viewer to close the session and the connection to the receiver system

The remaining entries are described in the installed or on-line manuals of X11VNC and SSVNC.
Some provide enhanced functionality, others affect perceived performance.

Some of the most useful enhancemets
  • Text Chat opens a window on both systems which enables both operators to communicate
  • File Transfer opens a window on the provider screen that enables 2 way movement of files
  • Clipboard enables the provider system to send/receive the contents of either clipboard
Some that might improve perceived performance
  • 8 Bit Color reduces the number of colors on shared desktop displayed on the provider screen
  • Grey Scale displays only shades of grey on shared desktop displayed on the provider screen
Some that will probably degrade perceived performance
  • Full Color displays the maximum number of colors in the shared desktop displayed on the provider screen
  • Scale Viewer adjusts the size of the shared desktop displayed on the provider screen
  • Set 1/n Server Scale adjusts the size of the shared desktop displayed on the provider screen
  • Toggle Tight/ZRLE adjusts the way in which changes on the receiver desktop are handled on the provider screen
Note Quality level, Compress level, and Disable JPEG only apply
when using Tight encoding rather than the default ZRLE
Tip The amount by which performance changes will vary from
system to system and network to network.
Refer to the section Fine Tuning for more details.

Fine Tuning

Usually the default settings do not have to be changed for 1-to-1 Assistance to work.

The percieved performance of a system can be influenced by any combination of, the vast range of potential kit, the huge variety of software that might be installed, the way applications are used, the enormous number of ISPs. These mean there is no single set up that can optimally cover every permutation. Tweaking is possible and might help handle local variations.

This section covers 3 main areas:

  • External influences that cannot be tuned by 1-to-1 Assistance
  • Tuning that might improve performance
  • Tuning that does not affect performance

External influences that cannot be tuned by 1-to-1 Assistance

Any or all of the following might be present and constraining performance

Factors that might be present in either or both of the provider and receiver locations
  • Capability and resources of the local computer e.g.
    • Video adaptor and driver
    • CPU power
    • Amount of physical RAM
    • Storage read/write speed
    • Network adaptor speed
  • Reliability of connection to the local network
  • Congestion of the local network e.g.
    • The number of concurrent network users
    • The nature of the tasks the network users are conducting
  • Quality of service settings on the local network
Factors that might be ISP dependent
  • Speed of the modem making the connection to the ISP
  • Upload/Download speeds governed by the ISP
  • Congestion of the ISP network
  • Any other traffic shaping model imposed by the ISP

Tuning that might improve performance

Optimising performance is based on 2 ideas

  • Have both provider and receiver systems do as little work as practicable
  • Whenever possible have the necessary work done on the most capable system

The default set up incorporates these ideas but is able to be enhanced when wanted. Implement any/all the following for the duration of the session.

Receiver System

These tweaks are visible on both the receiver and provider screens. They may be performed by either

  • The receiver operator before a connection is established
  • The provider operator after a connection is established

Desktop Wallpaper or Colour
Colourful and highly detailed images require more work to process. The more plain and undecorated the desktop background, the less work is needed to reproduce it. Prefer a wallpaper having a single non-graduated colour. Alternatively, switch off the desktop wallpaper and use a solid colour for the background.

Example

Switch to using a desktop that is not managed by either RoxPinboard or SpaceFM.
Desktop→Other Desktops
Select from Fluxbox, IceWM, JWM

Substitute the wallpaper image with a colour
Control Center→Choose Wallpaper→Static→No Wallpaper→Select Color
Set to solid grey, Red=160, Green=160, Blue=160

Desktop Size/Screen Resolution
In cases where the receiver system is a more capable system than the provider system, it is beneficial to change the screen resolution of the receiver system in order to resize the shared desktop. Doing this is preferable to scaling the shared desktop on only the provider screen via Scale Viewer or Set 1/n Server Scale. Using either of these places an extra workload on the provider system which might be seen as degraded performance.

Unnecessary Applications
Close all applications that are not required for the session. It is particularly beneficial to shut down any application that might produce any form of on-screen movement. Unnecessary on-screen movement requires extra workload to be handled during the session which in turn results in degraded performance.

Examples

  • Web browser (ads and embedded video etc)
  • Video player (films of any sort)
  • Music player (artwork, and/or progress bars)
  • Conky (graphs or other indicators)

Window Manager Theme & Icon Set
The beneficial affect of switching these might be apparent only on the oldest, least capable kit. Switch to a very plain, low colour version of both. Colourful themes and icon sets that use fancy images and gradients result in a higher bandwidth use which can degrade performance.

Provider System

These tweaks are visible on only the provider screen. They may be performed by the provider operator after a connection is established.

8 Bit Color
The higher the bit colour, the greater is the number of colours displayed which might be seen as degraded performance. 8 bit colour is a low colour mode which requires less work to process. The reduced number of colours are often acceptable for many tasks during a short session.

Grey Scale
The receiver system will usually display its desktop in colour mode. This means the provider system has to handle the corresponding workload in order to display the shared desktop in colour mode. Using Grey Scale enables this workload to be reduced as no colours are reproduced. The entire contents of the shared desktop are displayed in shades of grey, whilst retaining the same clarity and usability as colour mode.

Tuning that does not affect performance

Taskbar Icon
When running in receive mode, by default an icon is placed in the taskbar (panel) to indicate the provider is sharing your desktop. The X11VNC application window can be shown on your desktop instead by changing a setting.

Note Settings are held in a hidden file in your home folder
.1-to-1_assistance_receive_rc
Tip A simple way to open .1-to-1_assistance_receive_rc for editing is
1. Switch your file manager to show hidden files
2. Browse your home folder
3. Select the file and open it in your text editor

In the file, find the line that refers to setting the gui.
Remove the reference to the default value of tray and save the file.

Note

Example setting to display the X11VNC window

...
-gui simple
...

Summary of Files

Receive Mode

  • Configuration file is located in /home/USERNAME/.1-to-1_assistance_receive_rc
  • Log file is located in /home/USERNAME/.1-to-1_assistance_receive.log

Provide Mode

  • Configuration file is located in /home/USERNAME/.vnc/profiles/1-to-1_assistance_provide.vnc
  • SSL security certificates are located in /home/USERNAME/.vnc/certs/listen.crt and listen.pem
  • Global settings file for all SSVNC viewers is located in /home/USERNAME/.ssvncrc

Executable files are located in /usr/local/bin/

  • 1-to-1_assistance.sh is the launcher script
  • 1-to-1_assistance_receive.sh is the wrapper script for X11VNC Server
  • 1-to-1_assistance_provide.sh is the wrapper script for SSVNC Viewer

Menu file is located in /usr/share/applications/antix/

  • 1-to-1_assistance.desktop

Icon file is located in /usr/share/pixmaps/

  • 1-to-1_assistance.png

Video

antiX 15 – 1-to-1 assistance by runwiththedolphin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEmtZTpKR0A

Leave a Comment

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!