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Monday, October 4, 2010

Linux: An Interesting VPN/Remote Project (1) « The ERACC Web Log

Linux: An Interesting VPN/Remote Project (1)

This is the first article of at least two articles about this project. The next article will follow once we are further into this project. A possible third article may follow at the end of this project.

The first day of September 2010 I received a web-form e-mail from a long-time client who lives and works in Alaska. My client's name is Wayne, so that is how I will refer to him for the rest of this article. Wayne bought one of the first AMD dual-CPU systems with eComStation my company built back in 2001. That system has been running ever since and is now ready to be retired. Wayne is going to be getting a new PC from my company, but first he has a project for which he asked me to provide assistance.

Wayne and his sister have pooled their resources and bought a vacation property in New Mexico. They are having a vacation home built there that will be shared between them. The home will be finished this month, October 2010. Wayne is an avid stargazer and has contracted for a small observatory to be built on the property about 200 feet from the home. This observatory will have a computer controlled, motorized retractable dome and computer controlled telescope. Unfortunately the software to control the dome and the telescope is apparently only developed for Microsoft systems (Can you say vendor lock-in? I knew you could! Does anyone have hints on doing this with FOSS on Linux?). Wayne is also looking at Axis PTZ outdoor video surveillance cameras for the property.

How does this involve Linux, VPN and remote access?

Wayne wants to be able to do the following:

  • Have remote access from Alaska to New Mexico for running the telescope system over the internet.
  • Have remote access to video surveillance at the observatory and vacation house during the months that no one will be occupying the vacation home.
  • Be able to remotely power cycle all devices on the remote LAN.
  • Have a support person who can access these systems remotely to set it all up once connected.
  • Do all this on a budget that he can afford.


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