A Tour of Inlets - A Tunnel Built for the Cloud

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2021-08-26 08:30:04

Inlets is a lightweight tunneling tool. It’s not a SaaS product, it’s a self-hosted tunneling solution. That means you have total control over it. According to the documentation of Inlets PRO, there are various use cases:

inlets-pro is the main program where the magic happened. Basically it has two modes: TCP and HTTP. Both the server side and the client side run with the same program, but with different subcommands. Whatever you send over the tunnel between the server and the client gets encrypted in transit through the built-in TLS encryption. This is done automatically. A bonus feature is that you do not have to expose your services on the Internet, so can use Inlets like a VPN or SSH tunnel.

As mentioned above, there must be two endpoints in a tunnel: one end is Inlets PRO server, the other end is Inlets PRO client. The node where Inlets PRO server runs is called exit-server. It means that all the responses coming from the other end of the tunnel will take the exit here. The Inlets PRO server exposes its control-plane (websocket) to other Inlets PRO clients, so that the clients can connect and establish the tunnel. You can put Inlets PRO clients on your private server or even on your local computer, then expose private servers with public endpoints through the tunnel. Then you can share the public endpoints with customers to let them access your private services without a hassle.

One of my use case is to establish a secured tunnel between my homelab server and my office Windows desktop, so I can access office environment through Windows RDP from my Mac. All I have to do is opening up Microsoft Remote Desktop app, and connect to my homelab server on port 3389.

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