Browser based VNC and DHCP
January 3, 2004 8:02 PM   Subscribe

I used to use winVNC to access my home PC from any web enabled computer. [more...]

Accessing my PC through the browser worked much better than other solutions, in which you have to install a client on each machine you're accessing from, because my work makes me move from PC-to-PC, all over New York City. I recently bought a Linksys 80211b wireless router and hooked my home PC up to it, so that I could share my broadband connection with my laptop. That works great, but now I can't access my desktop through WinVNC.

My isp is Verizon, and they don't give me a static ip address. To deal with this, I run a little program called Keep Me Posted, which posts my current IP address as a web page. I just go to this page, click the link there, and it takes me to the Java client page for WinVNC, from which I can access my desktop -- or at least that's how it used to work before I got the router.

My knowledge of ip addresses, networks and routers is close to nil, so please talk down to me!

posted by grumblebee to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
See if the Linksys has a built-in client for updating an IP/hostname through, say, Then, set the Linksys to forward port 80 (on the "outside") to your machine on the inside.

If you need more help with this, let me know, and we can walk you through it.
posted by mrbill at 8:35 PM on January 3, 2004

Okay, no DynDNS client on the Linksys - must have been my NetGear that had that feature.

For running on the PC, check out the ls_dyndns client. It will report the *router*'s IP to the dynamic DNS service. Then, use your dynamic IP's hostname (after you setup a dyndns account) as the web address for your remote browser.
posted by mrbill at 8:39 PM on January 3, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks mrbill. I will try it. And if I can't get it to work, I may take you up on your offer.
posted by grumblebee at 8:42 PM on January 3, 2004

Take a look at eBlvd. There's a (very small) charge, but it will make all your problems go away. It's far and away the best remote access solution I've seen, and as the support manager for a software company, I've seen them all.
posted by ewagoner at 8:44 PM on January 3, 2004

I don't think the lack of a static IP address is your biggest problem. The main problem is that the Linksys is now acting as a firewall and is blocking access to your desktop from the outside world. So you'll need to set up port forwarding in the Linksys to tell it to forward the VNC traffic to your desktop.

To do that, open up your web browser and type in the internal IP address of the Linksys (it will probably be either or This will bring up the Linksys configuration page. Look for a section called "Port Forwarding" (it may be under "advanced"). I believe the ports you need to forward for a default VNC install are 5800 and 5900.
posted by llamateur at 9:00 PM on January 3, 2004

llamateur's got it. Imagine your linksys is a big fat roadblock on the path between your outside computers and your home desktop. To get it to work, your linksys needs to know that it should forward requests on a certain port to a certain client on its subnetwork.
posted by mathowie at 10:39 PM on January 3, 2004

Aye. What llamateur said. Also, it's D-Link routers that have the built in DynDNS clients. I prefer, which runs a client program on your PC, and updates a chosen DNS ( with your router's IP addy.

Then it's up to you to forward the ports.

Beware also that your work (like my uni) may block all the ports that you, as a wage slave, need no access to. In which case, you're probably not going to be able to do this without either asking them to give you access to 5800 and 5900 ("Why!?") or setting your VNC (I recommend TightVNC heartily) to use an HTTP range port. Like 80, or something.
posted by armoured-ant at 3:22 AM on January 4, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help. Can someone post an explanation of "ports?" What, specifically, are ports 5800 and 5900?
posted by grumblebee at 5:20 AM on January 4, 2004

I find GoToMyPC surprisingly reliable - it's easy to install, works around routers and functions on all web browsers I've tried it on. Plus, from PC to PC (as opposed to PC to Mac) you can transfer files. I found that their accounts department was happy to be haggled down on price, which makes it a good deal.
posted by skylar at 7:27 AM on January 4, 2004

Can someone post an explanation of "ports?" What, specifically, are ports 5800 and 5900?

A port number is kind of like an apartment number. If you're sending mail to someone who lives in an apartment building, the street number is only good enough to get the mail to building, but then you need an apartment number to get it to the right apartment. On the Internet, the IP address identifies a single computer and the port identifies a single program running on that computer.

Since computers can run many programs at the same time, the port number is how the computer knows which program should handle any given incoming network packet. So if your machine is running, say, a web server, an FTP server, and a POP mail server, the web server only listens for packets on port 80, the FTP server only listens on port 21, and the POP server only listens on port 110.

So in this case 5800 and 5900 are just the port numbers that the creators of VNC chose to use, presumably because they weren't already being used by any other common applications.
posted by llamateur at 7:34 AM on January 4, 2004

Grumble (say hi to lisa for me.)

Take a look at Tom's Networking (brand new)

: TomsNetworking : News, reviews and how-tos for knowledgeable networkers.

What are ports?

All network based applications communicate using ports and protocols. You can think of a port as a channel (numbered 0 to 65536), with channels 0 to 1024 reserved for specific applications.

Specific ports?
posted by filmgeek at 7:41 AM on January 4, 2004

Also, it's D-Link routers that have the built in DynDNS clients.

Also Netgear.
posted by kindall at 10:11 AM on January 4, 2004

I'm with Skylar on GoToMyPC -- there's absolutely no routing-porting-switching-DNSing hassle, and it just plain works, everywhere. It's such a relief to not have to worry about being able to get to things on my PC. I use it on a daily basis for mundane things and it has saved my butt on a couple of special occasions. Well worth the modest subscription fee.
posted by Tubes at 12:58 PM on January 4, 2004

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