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We are evaluating remote access software for our organization for the purposes of I.T. support. We have over 300 PCs spread across various sites. We have narrowed down on two paid-for solutions: TeamViewer and Remote Utilities.

We would like to know if there are any open source, well-maintained and feature-unrestricted solutions before we part with our money.

The software must allow for keyboard and mouse control and file transfer.

We don't want client-less solutions that need a server for hosting.

The software solutions should be compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

  • What do you mean by "client-less"? There must be a client, right? – Nicolas Raoul Feb 10 '16 at 6:43
  • Could you please detail your need? You want to be able to take control of the screen/mouse/keyboard of a remote computer, right? Do you need to be able to communicate with the remote user too, for instance via chat or VOIP? – Nicolas Raoul Feb 10 '16 at 6:45
  • Well as I was researching, I came across Guacamole. Didn't look further into it. According to their website it's a "clientless remote desktop gateway". I'll edit the question. – MorrisIriga Feb 10 '16 at 6:47
  • I'm going to add the open-source and gratis tags to your question. Although open-source is usually free (gratis), it does not have to be. But in your case, it looks like you are specifically looking for free-of-cost solutions. – RockPaperLizard Feb 10 '16 at 7:11
  • @RockPaperLizard Your edits are welcome. You're correct, I am looking for free-of-cost solutions. However, they must also not have features restricted. For example, you can install TeamViewer on an unlimited number of computers and use it with all of it's features for 14 days. After that, sessions disconnect every 2 minutes. You can use Remote Utilities with all of it's features for free on up to 10 computers. – MorrisIriga Feb 10 '16 at 7:31
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For years now, I have been happy with TightVNC.

It fully meets your requirements (FOSS, keyboard and mouse control and file transfer).

I am behind a company firewall at the moment, which won't let me access the homepage, but Wikipedia says

TightVNC is a cross-platform free and open-source remote desktop software application that uses and extends the RFB protocol of Virtual Network Computing (VNC) to control another computer's screen remotely.

Encodings

TightVNC uses so-called "tight encoding" of areas, which improves performance over low bandwidth connection. It is effectively a combination of the JPEG and zlib compression mechanisms.[3][4] It is possible to watch videos and play DirectX games through TightVNC over a broadband connection, albeit at a low frame rate.

TightVNC includes many other common features of VNC derivatives, such as file transfer capability.

Compatibility

TightVNC is cross-compatible with other client and server implementations of VNC; however, tight encoding is not supported by most other implementations, so it is necessary to use TightVNC at both ends to gain the full advantage of its enhancements.

Among notable enhancements are file transfers, support for Windows DFMirage mirror driver to detect screen updates (saves CPU time and increases the performance of TightVNC), ability to zoom the picture and automatic SSH tunneling on Unix.

Because it is FOSS, there are a number of programs derived from it. There is also a portable version which I find very useful.

  • +1. The tool works surprisingly well for computers on the same network. We cannot, however, access PCs on remote sites since it uses IP addresses to establish a connection, unlike paid-for solutions that use partner IDs and an intermediary server. Although we have support personnel at each site, guys at HQ often need access to these remote sites. We are still evaluating the tool. – MorrisIriga Feb 12 '16 at 11:49
  • OIC. I can see that now when I re-read the question, but I din't realize it at the time. I hope that you get an answer; I would be interested .in such software. But any such solution will, of course, require a central server somewhere if either end is behind a router. – Mawg Feb 12 '16 at 12:26
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    I edited the question after you had posted your answer to specify we had various sites. We've stopped searching for an open source tool and have decided to go for either TeamViewer or RemoteUtilities and will soon start evaluating each of them. I really appreciate your help. Marked as answer. – MorrisIriga Feb 13 '16 at 1:28
  • Thanks. When you decide, could you please come back and post what you chose and why? I could help someone in future. – Mawg Feb 13 '16 at 8:17
  • I've used TightVNC in the past, though mostly with Linux machines. The trick to bridge networks was using SSH tunneling, which worked pretty well even through firewalls. But it requires SSH to be available on all "stations" (i.e. from the client via the "tunnel server" to the machine you want to access). – Izzy Apr 25 '16 at 22:00
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I think you are facing a kind of "make or buy" decision. There are lots of possible ways to run VNC or other solutions like the Windows built-in RDP over ssh tunnels or some kind of "broker" servers. But buying a readymade solution will save you from investing time into such a "selfmade" solution. Teamviewer is easy to set up, but comes at a price.

Perhaps you should look for alternatives to Teamviewer that are as easy to set up and run. A spin-off of formed Teamviewer employees provides such a product which is way cheaper than Teamviewer: http://anydesk.com/. If I understood their pricing model right the prices start at 180€ per year. Compare this to how many hours you will spend to get / keep a selfmade solution running ...

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Try UltraViewer, it's similar to TeamViewer but absolutely free / gratis.

Edit: Work well on all Window XP, Window 7, Window 8, Window 10, Window Server.

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