Remotely Control Any NT Machine


Imagine the following situation: You have a Windows NT server that is physically inaccessible but reachable by TCP (e.g., it's in a remote office). You have the Administrator account for the machine, but you can't accomplish the task you need to perform using the standard NT management tools. In addition, the remote system doesn't have a remote control program installed. In this situation, you can install AT&T Laboratories Cambridge's Virtual Network Computing (VNC), a freeware remote control tool, without physically accessing the machine.

You'll need to complete a few steps to set up and use the tool. First, determine the Administrator password of the remote machine. Next, download the VNC distribution from and make sure you have the Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit Regini tool and the Shutdown and Netsvc tools.

After you download the VNC distribution, extract the VNC files from the distribution package. The simplest way to accomplish this task is to install VNC on a test machine. The installation automatically creates the C:\program filesorl\vnc directory, which includes all but one of the files that you need to run VNC. The missing file is omnithread_ rt.dll, and you can find it in the \winntsystem32 directory. Copy the missing file to the C:\program files\orl\vnc directory.

Next, use the following commands to copy the VNC directory to the target machine:

NET USE \\<remote machine IP>
\IPC$ /user:administrator password

MKDIR "\\<remote machine IP>
\C$\program files\orl\vnc"

COPY "c:\program files\orl\vnc" "\\<remote machine IP>
\C$\program files\orl\vnc"

For VNC to successfully run, you'll also need to create registry entries on the target machine. To load the remote target machine's registry, use the following command:

REGINI -m \\<remote machine IP> vnc.regini

Listing 1, page 28, shows vnc.regini. The Regini command registers VNC as an automatic startup service on the remote machine. In addition, it sets the default VNC password as the remote machine's password.

The final step is to start the VNC on the remote server. You can use two methods to start VNC on the remote machine: You can use the At command to schedule VNC to start, or you can use Shutdown.exe to force a shutdown. The At method is less disruptive but requires the Scheduler service to be running on the remote system. The Scheduler service isn't started by default, so you might need to use the following command to start it manually:

NETSVC \\<remote machine IP> schedule /start

To use the At method to schedule VNC to start, execute the following command to read the time on the remote server:

NET TIME \\<remote machine IP>

Then, schedule an At command to run a couple of minutes after the time that the previous command returned, as the following example shows:

AT \\<remote machine IP> 00:00 "c:\program files\orl\vnc

Wait a few minutes and launch vncviewer.exe to connect to the remote machine.

As a last option, you can use the Shutdown command to remotely reboot the server:

SHUTDOWN \\<remote machine IP>
 /R /Y /C /T:0

This command brings up VNC listening as a service.

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