RPort - remote access and remote management
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Concepts practically explained

If you want to install and run rport (server and client), switch to the installation tutorial.
Our end-user knowledge kb.rport.io base focuses on installation and server maintenance from a user’s perspective.

The below documentation is a practical demonstration of the rport concepts. It’s intended to be read by developers and experienced users who want to learn what happens behind the scenes.

Build and installation


We provide pre-compiled binaries. Please contact RealVNC for a license and download location.


rportd should be executed on the machine, acting as a server.

rport is a client app which will try to establish long-running connection to the server.

Minimal setup:

  1. Execute ./rportd --addr --auth rport:password123 --data-dir /var/tmp on a server.
  2. Execute ./rport --auth rport:password123 <SERVER_IP>:9999 2222:22 on a client or
    ./rport --auth rport:password123 <SERVER_IP>:9999 22 and the server tunnel port will be randomly chosen for you.
  3. Now end-users can connect to <SERVER_IP>:2222 (e.g. using a SSH Connection). The connection will be proxied to the client machine.

See ./rportd --help and ./rport --help for more options, like:

  • Specifying certificate fingerprint to validate server authority
  • Client session authentication using user:password pair
  • Restricting, which users can connect
  • Specifying additional intermediate HTTP proxy
  • Using POSIX signals to control running apps
  • Setting custom HTTP headers
  • Using IPv6 addresses when starting a server

Run the server without installation

If you quickly want to run the rport server without installation, run the following commands from any unprivileged user account.

curl -LOJ https://downloads.rport.io/rport/stable/latest.php?arch=Linux_x86_64
tar vxzf rport_*_Linux_x86_64.tar.gz rportd
KEY=$(openssl rand -hex 18)
./rportd --log-level info --data-dir /var/tmp/ --key $KEY --auth user1:1234

Rportd will be listening on the default port 8080 for client connections. Grab the generated fingerprint from /var/tmp/rportd-fingerprint.txt and use it for secure client connections.

Install and run the rport server

On a machine connected to the public internet and ideally with an FQDN registered to a public DNS install and run the server. Assume, the server is called node1.example.com.

A note on security

Do not run the server as root! This is an unnecessary risk. Rportd should always use an unprivileged user.

While using rport without a fingerprint is possible, it’s highly recommended to not skip this part. The fingerprint ensures you connect only to trusted servers. If you omit this step a man in the middle can bring up a rport server and hijack your tunnels. If you do ssh or rdp through the tunnel, a hijacked tunnel will not expose your credentials because the data inside the tunnel is still encrypted. But if you use rport for unencrypted protocols like HTTP, sniffing credentials would be possible.

You might wonder why the rport server does not provide encryption on the transport layer (TLS, SSL, HTTPS). Encryption is always enabled. Your connections are encrypted and secured by SSH over HTTP. When you start up the rport server, it will generate an in-memory ECDSA public/private key pair. Adding TLS by putting an SSL reverse proxy is possible so you get SSH over HTTPS.

Install the server

For a proper installation execute the following steps.

curl -LOJ https://downloads.rport.io/rportd/stable/latest.php?arch=Linux_x86_64
sudo tar vxzf rportd_*_Linux_x86_64.tar.gz -C /usr/local/bin/ rportd
sudo useradd -d /var/lib/rport -m -U -r -s /bin/false rport
sudo mkdir /etc/rport/
sudo mkdir /var/log/rport/
sudo chown rport /var/log/rport/
sudo tar vxzf rportd_*_Linux_x86_64.tar.gz -C /etc/rport/ rportd.example.conf
sudo cp /etc/rport/rportd.example.conf /etc/rport/rportd.conf

Create a new unique key for the server instance. Store this key and don’t change it. You will use it later. Otherwise, your fingerprint will change and your clients might be rejected. Open the /etc/rport/rportd.conf with an editor. Add a random string as key_seed. You can use openssl rand -hex 18 to generate one. Or just execute the following commands to generate and enter a new key to your configuration file.

KEY_SEED=$(openssl rand -hex 18)
sed -i "s/key_seed = .*/key_seed =\"${KEY_SEED}\"/g" /etc/rport/rportd.conf

All other default settings are suitable for a quick and secure start.

Change to the rport user account and check your rportd starts without errors.

ubuntu@node1:~$ sudo -u rport -s /bin/bash
rport@node1:/home/ubuntu$ rportd -c /etc/rport/rportd.conf --log-level info &

For the first testing leave the console open and observe the log with tail -f /var/log/rport/rportd.log. Copy the generated fingerprint from /var/lib/rport/rportd-fingerprint.txt to your clipboard. Try your first client connection now.

Run the server with systemd

If all works fine stop the rport server and integrate it into systemd.

sudo rportd --service install --service-user rport --config /etc/rport/rportd.conf

A file /etc/systemd/system/rportd.service will be created and systemd is ready to manage rportd.

sudo systemctl start rportd
sudo systemctl enable rportd # Optionally start rportd on boot

Connect a client

Assume, the client is called client1.local.localdomain. On your client just install the client binary

curl -LOJ https://downloads.rport.io/rport/stable/latest.php?arch=Linux_x86_64
sudo tar vxzf rport_*_Linux_x86_64.tar.gz -C /usr/local/bin/ rport

Create an ad hoc tunnel that will forward the port 2222 of node1.example.com to the to local port 22 of client1.local.localdomain.

rport --auth user1:1234 --fingerprint <YOUR_FINGERPRINT> --data-dir=/tmp node1.example.com:8080 2222:

Observing the log of the server you get a confirmation about the newly created tunnel.

Now you can access your machine behind a firewall through the tunnel. Try ssh -p 2222 node1.example.com and you will come out on the machine where the tunnel has been initiated.

Run a Linux client with systemd

For a proper and permanent installation of the client execute the following steps.

curl -LOJ https://downloads.rport.io/rport/stable/latest.php?arch=Linux_x86_64
sudo tar vxzf rport_*_Linux_x86_64.tar.gz -C /usr/local/bin/ rport
sudo useradd -d /var/lib/rport -U -m -r -s /bin/false rport
sudo mkdir /etc/rport/
sudo mkdir /var/log/rport/
sudo chown rport /var/log/rport/
sudo tar vxzf rport_*_Linux_x86_64.tar.gz -C /etc/rport/ rport.example.conf
sudo cp /etc/rport/rport.example.conf /etc/rport/rport.conf
sudo rport --service install --service-user rport --config /etc/rport/rport.conf

Open the config file /etc/rport/rport.conf and adjust it to your needs. (See below.) Finally, start the rport client and optionally register it in the auto-start.

systemctl start rport
systemctl enable rport

A very minimalistic client configuration rport.conf can look like this:

server = "node1.example.com:8080"
fingerprint = "<YOUR_FINGERPRINT>"
auth = "user1:1234"
remotes = ['2222:22']

This will establish a permanent tunnel and the local port 22 (SSH) of the client becomes available on port 2222 of the rport server.

Run a Windows client

On Microsoft Windows download the latest client binary and extract it ideally to C:\Program Files\rport. Rename the rport.example.conf to rport.conf and store it in C:\Program Files\rport too. Open the rport.conf file with a text editor. On older Windows use an editor that supports unix line breaks, like notepad++.

A very minimalistic client configuration rport.conf can look like this:

server = "node1.example.com:8080"
fingerprint = "<YOUR_FINGERPRINT>"
auth = "user1:1234"
remotes = ['3300:3389']

This will establish a permanent tunnel and the local port 3389 (remote desktop) of the client becomes available on port 3300 of the rport server.

Before registering rport as a windows service, check your connection manually.

Open a command prompt with administrative rights and type in:

cd "C:\Program Files\rport"
rport.exe -c rport.conf

If you don’t get errors on the console, try a remote desktop connection to the rport server on port 3300. Stop the client with CTRL-C and register it as a service and start it.

rport.exe --service install -c rport.conf
sc query rport
sc start rport

The Windows service will be created with “Startup type = automatic”. If you don’t want the rport client to start on boot, you must manually disable it using for example sc config rport start=disabled.

Configuration files

Config files can be used to set up both the rport server and clients. In order to use it an arg --config(or -c) should be passed to a command with a path to the file. Configuration examples rportd.example.conf (view online) and rport.example.conf (view online) can be found in the release archive.

NOTE: command arguments and env variables will override values from the config file.

In order to load the configuration from a file run:

rportd -c /etc/rport/rportd.conf
rport -c /etc/rport/rport.conf

Using authentication

To prevent anyone who knows the address and the port of your rport server to use it for tunneling, using client authentication is required.

Using a static username password pair is the most basic option. See the comments in the rportd.example.conf and read more about all supported authentication options.

On the client start the tunnel this way

rport --auth user1:1234 --fingerprint <YOUR_FINGERPRINT> node1.example.com:8080 2222:

Note that in this early version the order of the command line options is still important. This might change later.

Install a web-based frontend

Rport comes with a user-friendly web-based frontend. The frontend has it’s own none-open-source repository. The installation is quick and easy. Learn more

Install the command-line interface

You can also manage clients, tunnels, and command from a user-friendly command-line utility. It’s available as a stand-alone static binary for Windows and Linux. See https://github.com/realvnc-labs/rportcli. The command-line utility does not cover all API capabilities yet. But it’s already a very useful tool making rport even more powerful.