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Using Screens without Screens Connect

Screens Connect is the easiest way to make a computer available for connections from outside its local network, but under certain circumstances, Screens Connect isn't a viable option. In such cases, it's still possible to connect to a computer from across the Internet.

Note: Make sure you enable Screen Sharing on your Mac before you go through these instructions. Refer to Screens' help documentation to learn more.

Step 1: Update your public IP address automatically

Your public IP address will change from time to time. To make sure that Screens can find your computer when connecting locally, you will need to subscribe to a service that will monitor IP address changes.

For this example, we chose a free service called No-IP, which is not associated in any way with Edovia. There are many similar services available on the web and they all have a similar setup procedure.

Create a No-IP account and host

  1. Go to http://www.no-ip.com/.
  2. Select “No-IP Free”.
  3. Sign Up for the service.
  4. Once your No-IP account has been created and validated, go to https://www.no-ip.com/login/ to log in.
  5. You'll land on your No-IP page.
  6. Select “Add a Host”.
  7. Type a Hostname. 
  8. Make sure “DNS Host (A)” is selected.
  9. Do not change the IP address. It is your current public IP address.
  10. Click on “Create Host”.

Install the Host Updater

Many routers will let you do this easily, without having to install any additional software on your Mac. Consult this page to see if your router supports the No-IP service.

If your router doesn't support the service, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to http://www.no-ip.com/downloads.php.
  2. Select the download for your OS (Mac, Windows or Linux).
  3. Download the latest version of the app.
  4. Scroll down the Download page in order to get the installation instructions.

Step 2: Make your computer's local IP address static

You'll find instructions for:

On your Mac

Like your public IP address, your local IP address may change from time to time. We need to make sure it stays the same.

  1. Open System Preferences → Network.
  2. Select “Using DHCP with manual address”.
  3. Select a static IP that will not conflict with anything else on the network. It’s best to pick a number far out of the normal range of assigned IP’s, in the example below we chose 10.0.1.245 because most of the machines on this network stop at 10.0.1.150. Check your router's IP address to know which range to use. 
  4. Click on the “Apply” button in the lower right corner.
  5. Your IP will now manually set to the static address you provided, you will briefly disconnect from the network while this occurs.
  6. Close Network settings and System Preferences.
  7. You can now move to Step 3.

On your Windows PC

Like your public IP address, your local IP address may change from time to time. We need to make sure it stays the same.

Get information about your network

  1. Click “Start” and type cmd. Press enter.
    win-start-cmd.png
  2. A shell window will appear. Type “ipconfig” and press enter.
    win-cmd-ipconfig.png
  3. You'll see information regarding your network.
    win-ipconfig-info.png
  4. Under “Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection”, write down the addresses for:
    1. Subnet Mask
    2. Default Gateway
  5. You can now close this window.

Making your PC's IP address static

  1. Type network and sharing into the Search box in the Start Menu and select Network and Sharing Center when it comes up.
    win-start-net-center.png
  2. Then when the Network and Sharing Center opens, click on “Change adapter settings”.
  3. Right-click on your local adapter and select Properties.
    win-local-net-props.png
  4. In the Local Area Connection Properties window highlight Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) then click the Properties button.
    win-ipv4-props.png
  5. Now select the radio button “Use the following IP address” and enter in the correct IP, Subnet mask, and Default gateway that corresponds with your network setup. Then enter your Preferred and Alternate DNS server addresses. Here we’re on a home network and using a simple Class C network configuration and Google DNS.
  6. Check ”Validate settings upon exit” so Windows can find any problems with the addresses you entered. When you’re finished click OK.
    win-ipv4-props-done.png
  7. Now close out of the Local Area Connections Properties window.
  8. Windows 7 will run network diagnostics and verify the connection is good. Here we had no problems with it, but if you did, you could run the network troubleshooting wizard.
    win-ip-ok.png
  9. You can now move to Step 3.

On your Raspberry Pi

Like your public IP address, your local IP address may change from time to time. We need to make sure it stays the same.

Get information about your network

  1. Open Terminal and type sudo ifconfig
    ifconfig_grande.jpg
  2. Make a note of the following data:

    Current IP Address (inet addr)
    Broadcast Range (Bcast)
    Subnet Mask (Mask)

    so, from our example, I would get the following information.

    Current IP Address = 192.168.3.116
    Broadcast Range = 192.168.3.255
    Subnet Mask = 255.255.255.0

    Different networks will give you different data, so make sure you don't just copy our results!
  3. With those noted down, run sudo route -n, this will give us information from your router.
    route_large.jpg
  4. Make sure you note down the following information given from this command:

    • Gateway
    • Destination 


    So from the example, I would get the following
    Gateway = 192.168.3.1
    Destination = 192.168.3.0

    OK, so we’ve now obtained all of the data that we need to setup our Raspberry Pi with a shiny new static IP address, it’s time to save it to a config file.

  5. Time to run sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces. This opens the configuration file for the network settings in the nano text editor. If you’re more confident with an alternative text editor that’s fine too!
    interfaces-config_large.jpg
  6. the line that reads “iface eth0 inet dhcp” is telling the ethernet “eth0” networking interface to use “dhcp” (dynamic IP). Firstly, replace “dhcp” with “static”.

    Next up, add the following lines directly below the line you just altered, filling the []’s with the date you obtained above.

    address [your chosen IP address]
    netmask [your netmask]
    network [your destination]
    broadcast [your broadcast range]
    gateway [your gateway]

    Don't forget to save your file!
  7. Here’s an example of the content of the file:
    interfaces-config-saved_large.jpg
  8. Run sudo reboot to restart your Raspberry Pi with its new static IP address. The changes we have made will only take effect after a reboot.

Step 3: Port-Forwarding

As your network requires a public IP address, you will also need to create public ports that will redirect to your new static IP address and the private port used by Screen Sharing (normally 5900 unless you have changed it).

For the sake of this example, we'll use an Airport Extreme. If you have a different router, we suggest that your consult the excellent Port Forward website. Select your router brand and model, and then select “VNC” on the next page.

  1. Open “Airport Utility”.
  2. Select your router if it's not already selected.
  3. Click “Manual Setup” and enter your administrative password.
  4. Click the “Advanced” tab, then the “Port Mapping” tab.
  5. Click the + button to add a new port mapping.
  6. A settings window will appear.
  7. Select “Apple Remote Desktop” in the Service list.
  8. In the “Private IP Address” field, enter the static IP address you've created in Step 2. 
  9. Click “Continue”, then “Done”.
  10. Click “Update” to apply the changes on your router.

Step 4: Setting up Screens

  1. Open Screens and create or edit a screen like you would normally do.
  2. In the Address field, type your No-IP host. In our case, it's “lucsmacbookair.zapto.org”.
  3. Set the Port field to 5900 or whatever port number you used in Step 3.
  4. Select the correct Operating System, Authentication method and credentials.
  5. Save.
  6. Select the screen to initiate a connection.

 

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