Argonne National Laboratory


Remote Access

Department of Energy Office of Science
GM/CA @ APS Sponsors:
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)


Remote access to GM/CA @ APS beamlines with TeamViewer

TeamViewer™ is an alternative to NX™ software for remote connection to GM/CA @ APS computers. This application is available for most operating systems including Android, so that one could control beamline even from smart phone and tablet. Another advantage of TeamViewer™ is that it bypasses any firewall, so that none firewall configuration is required. This is because in the TeamViewer™ technology the communication between the parties is not direct, but through a TeamViewer™ server. So, both parties act as clients (their TeamViewer™ applications are clients, pretty much like web browsers). Another consequence of this technology is that the network traffic routes of NX™ and TeamViewer™ are different and therefore in some cases TeamViewer™ may work faster than NX™

In the TeamViewer™ terminology, a person at the beamline will be "Instant Customer" and a remote person will be "Supporter". Basically "Instant Customer" shares his/her desktop with "Supporter" and both can control it simultaneously. It is different from NX™ where remote session creates a virtual desktop and the only way to view it at the beamline is to open additional NX™ "shadow" session.

Obviously, TeamViewer™ is most convenient when an experimental group is split between remote users and those who are visiting the beamline. The beamline person needs to start TeamViewer™ via the Applications -> Internet menu and give to a remote person over the phone the session ID and password from the TeamViewer™ login screen (see screenshot below). Then, both parties can control the desktop together and no firewall restrictions apply (the remote person does not need to use the IP declared for remote access). If the group if fully remote, then ask your host person to login for you and start TeamViewer™.

Teamviewer start screen. The numbers on the screen (the ID and
Password) should be given to remote user over the phone.

To start using TeamViewer™, download it from the company web site. You do not need license for this application. It is free for personal use; for any other cases, only one side needs a license. The GM/CA @ APS already has one TeamViewer™-6 license per beamline transferable between blNws3 and blNws6 workstations, where N=1 for 23ID-D and N=2 for 23ID-B. You can start TeamViewer™ at either of these workstations, but not at the same time: because of the license restriction, the second workstation should be connected via NX™. The blNws3 workstations are configured for beamline controls and blNws6 for data processing.

 Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:What version of TeamViewer do I need?

GM/CA @ APS is licensed to TeamViewer™-8. According to the TeamViewer™ web side, you should be able to connect to our computers using TeamViewer™ version 8 or later, but not in the other direction.

Q:TeamViewer desktop has low color depth. What can I do?

By default, the color depth is selected to "auto". If you need to change it, move the cursor to the top of the TeamViewer window and select View > Quality > Optimize Quality.

Q:The desktop windows and fonts are too tiny. What can I do?

TeamViewer scales (interpolates) the physical desktop of remote computer to your computer's desktop. The remote desktop at GM/CA has a very high pixel resolution of 2560x1600. Ask a person at the beamline to temporarily lower the resolution for you to a value more appropriate to your desktop. You may need to restart the TeamViewer session after that.

Q:TeamViewer crashed during my remote session. What can I do?

As any application, sometimes TeamViewer™ may crash. This does not kill any of your programs since they continue to run at local desktop. However, you will need to call the beamline and ask to restart TeamViewer™ for you. If no one is available, you can still do it by yourself by temporarily connecting to local desktop. Here is how:

  1. Follow this link to connect using NX™ to the "data collection" computer allowed for through the firewall. This computer is blNws2 and you can also access it by ssh (if are using MS Windows, you will need to have ssh client and X-server):
    	 ssh -X
  2. As soon as you get connected, type "fixteamviewer" in a terminal window. This will bring a GUI similar to remote start of MAR desktop (see below).

  3. On the GUI screen click "Connect" button. This GUI helps to restart TeamViewer™ on both blNws3 and blNws6 workstations.
  4. Clicking "Connect" on step-3 should bring a VNC connection to the blNws3 or blNws6 desktop (the one you chose on the "fixteamviewer" screen). Start TeamViewer there and note the Teamviewer ID and password.
  5. Close the VNC window. The NX™ (or ssh) session can be closed too or minimized.
  6. Connect to the desktop using TeamViewer™ on your computer.

NOTE: Steps 5 and 6 can be reversed.

GM/CA @ APS is an Office of Science User Facility operated for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory

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