Count the Start buttons

Another evil incarnation of “turduckenology” arose yesterday at work. From my virtual Windows XP instance running inside Parallels Desktop on my Mac, I needed to make a remote desktop connection to my Windows XP desktop, which is running a Virtual PC 2007 instance of a virtual machine that itself had a remote desktop connection over a VPN to a client machine on their network:

That’s me diving through the rabbit hole of *four* instances of Windows via my Mac, so I can install our software on a client’s machine. The horror!

What really bends my noodle during this is figuring out how to copy and paste all the way up and down the chain of Windows instances. And it’s really easy to lose track of which Windows XP you are in when you are clicking around – it’s easy to run the wrong program in the wrong place!

These are the kinds of memories that will preoccupy my demented dreams when I am an old man in a nursing home.

9 responses to “Count the Start buttons

  1. When did everything get all white?? My eyes!!

    That’s demented man.

    Manhut?? hehe

    I keep thinking this is VNC.

    my new VNC has an option for scaling, so i scale it larger (fitting 1024×768 downstairs monitor into 1920×1080 upstairs HDTV monitor) … which makes it look ugly (it’s not a bilinear scale or anything, it’s quite ugly) — but it has the added advantage of being very obviously “the other computer”.

    i also like that it now captures alt-tab, alt-esc…

    But 4 deep? never. I’ve done 3. Not 4.

  2. I used to use VNC a lot on my windows machines, but I’ve since found that the remote desktop stuff built in to Windows works very well. It seems better to me than VNC, at least for XP machines.

    I wonder how deep it can go. I also wonder what would happen if you do something like use VNC to connect from the last machine back to the first one…

  3. At worst, VNC crashes if you make a feedback look. At best, you can move the mouse pointer around and have a lot of psychedelic fun.

    I was going to go the remote desktop route, but — I made the mistake of finally buying Windows XP by buying a prebuilt Gateway machine with XP on it. I didn’t think I had to investigate my options when I was FINALLY PAYING, but guess what? With XP Home, you:

    1) don’t get a windows cd. when your harddrive finally crashes, you no longer have the license you paid for

    2) doesn’t include terminal services — that’s requires for remote desktop, right?

    Also, can you remote in from, say, work??? Curious.

    I just tend to prefer unaffiliated software. If only VNC could go a bit faster though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hehe that reminds me of the time when I was trying to connect to my laptop from my desktop PC that was sitting right next to it, but couldn’t do it directly because my laptop needed to be on my work VPN for CVS and stuff. *sigh* I miss the days when I could connect one machine to another with a 2 ethernet cable. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I used to use VNC, since back at virginia tech ~10 years ago. I liked that it was free, cross-platform, and the web viewer applet was cool, too.

    Nowadays I use Remote Desktop most of the time, though, because usually I am connecting to Windows boxes, and I think it tends to do a better job of avoiding the duplicate mouse cursor issue, and repainting the right areas at the right times, etc.

    I have done the remote control loop thing, before. I don’t remember whether I was using VNC or Remote Desktop (or both), but I know I connected to one machine, and from that one I connected back to the original machine. The infinite video loop thing happened (Clint, do you have your camcorder-pointed-at-TV video handy?), and eventually one (or both) of the machines ran out of system resources and crashed in some way. Sorry the details are sketchy–it was 2-3 years ago that I did that.

  5. Oops. 2 foot ethernet cable, that is.

    As for remoting in from work, I do that with either VNC or Remote Desktop.. It’s the same way for both.. ssh to home from work, set up port forwarding on the VNC or RDP port, then connect to localhost in the VNC/RDP client.

    I think there was a registry setting required for each of those programs, to allow connecting to localhost, because they both had loopback prevention turned on by default.

    But, anyway, the ssh port forwarding route allows a more secure remote control session, without having to open any more ports on the home firewall. Much of the time I just need a commandline interface when I connect to home, though, so I just ssh in via cygwin ssh/sshd.

  6. “doesnโ€™t include terminal services โ€” thatโ€™s requires for remote desktop, right?”

    Yes, I believe that is correct.

    “Also, can you remote in from, say, work??? Curious.”

    Yes, though I imagine you have to set up your network to forward connections on that port to the destination machine. This post looks very useful in this regard:

    “I just tend to prefer unaffiliated software. If only VNC could go a bit faster though. ”

    VNC has gotten commercialized over the years, so it has its own affiliations now – but they still offer it for free, so that’s good. I don’t like the limitations Microsoft places on terminal service connections.

  7. @spugbrap:

    You can ssh into your home Windows machine using cygwin? That’s cool; I’ve never tried that! What did you have to do to get cygwin’s sshd running?

  8. @doranchak:
    Yeah, I’ve been using cygwin sshd for 5-6 years, now. Here’s a simple page on setting it up:

    Very easy, and once you’ve got sshd, you gain so much more remote-access power!

  9. That’s pretty sweet, spugbrap.

    And here’s the youtube video you requested:

    But if you guys haven’t “friended” me on youtube, you should ๐Ÿ™‚

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