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Ask Slashdot: Easy, Open Source Desktop-Sharing Software?

timothy posted 1 year,21 days | from the what-do-we-see-here dept.

Open Source 116

N8F8 writes "Like many IT professionals, I provide a lot of free help desk-type support to friends and family. I've decided to expand my support work and create a site where veterans can receive free computer help. I'm using OSTicket for the ticket reporting. What I really need is an easy to use desktop-sharing system. In the past I've used TeamViewer because it is easy to use, but it is not really free for non-personal use. Recently I switched to Meraki Systems Manager because it is free — and it uses VNC — but unfortunately it isn't intended for the one-time-use type support I'll be offering. So I'm looking for a reliable, open source, easy to use desktop-sharing solution that I can set up on my site for people to join one-time-use help desk sessions."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312279)

I think is free. (1)

Wolfrider (856) | 1 year,20 days | (#45315659) is free, but *still* doesn't work well with MS Office "ribbon" menus or UAC prompts.

Contact TeamViewer (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312285)

Personally, I would just send the company behind TeamViewer a mail; explaining your case and see if they're willing to give you some leaway in this case.

TeamViewer is an amazing piece of software that works really, really well.

It's worth a shot, right?

Re:Contact TeamViewer (4, Insightful)

Gorobei (127755) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312533)

+1. This is the obvious answer.

The optics are great (veterans, help, non-profit.)

First, fix your website so that it is obvious what you are offering and how you deliver it ("we are off-line now" does not cut it.)

Second, send a mail to TeamViewer's CEO or PR explaining what you do, what you need, and how you can help them in the PR space (you put thanks on your site, they can point to you as a good deed, you are available for journalists.)

Better than a shot, it should be a slam-dunk if you do it right.

Re:Contact TeamViewer (1)

smart_ass (322852) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312747)

Just get them to OK the project.

The fact that it is a volunteer / free thing I can't imagine why they would object.

Should be great exposure for them.

Re:Contact TeamViewer (2)

QA (146189) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313053)

I strongly recommend sending Teamviwer an email explaining your situation and perhaps asking for a little relief on the pricing.
We started using it a few years ago. I used it for "commercial purposes" on a few machines for 2 or 3 months, then contacted them about a business license. The cost was a little high, but they offered me a 40% discount, so I purchased it on the spot.

Later, after training a few employees on its use, I ran in to the single channel problem, so I called TeamViewer again and explained the situation. I upgraded to an Enterprise model that allowed 3 channels simultaneously. Again, based on the fact I had recently purchased the business class model (and if I could have seen the future I would have gone Enterprise right off the bat) they gave me an extremely nice discount.

No point in explaining all the features, you can look that up yourself, but we consider it money well spent and the point is they are very nice people to deal with, at least in my experience. One thing I will mention though, is you can set it up on your remote machines (white list connections) and forget it.

What have you got to lose? The worst they can say is "no".

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with TeamViewer, other than the fact I purchased a corporate license.

Re: Contact TeamViewer (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45314867)

Optics? Really?

Re: Contact TeamViewer (3, Funny)

Gorobei (127755) | 1 year,20 days | (#45315177)

Really. Used well, it can kill a room full of anodyne PR words. Can only be cast by level 5+ geeks.

Re: Contact TeamViewer (1)

hhacklub (2928805) | 1 year,20 days | (#45317659)

At level 10 geek it's all about how many levels deep in full screen remote machines you are connected through without getting lost. ;0 watch out for accidentally looped-back connections as they can be pretty intense! (E.g. "belay phaser order! -Arm photonnnnn torpeeeedos!)

Re:Contact TeamViewer (3, Informative)

N8F8 (4562) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313321)

I'll consider this but I'm an Open Source advocate and I would like to have the option of customizing the solution.

Re:Contact TeamViewer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45316721)

"I'll consider this but I'm an Open Source advocate"

Don't support Microsoft products, then.

And it's basically trivial to enter a shared session on X. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312287) Incredibly simple. Free. No install. FTW.

ChunkVNC + Instant Support (5, Informative)

iCEBaLM (34905) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312313)

ChunkVNC + Instant Support is great and can be found here: [] Do yourself a favor and click the "Help" at the top of the page to get to the forums and look for rat's 4.0 fork.

Basically what you do is run a repeater on an internet accessable box, use the scripts to customize and create a small (2mb usually) "instantsupport.exe" that you can link on a website somewhere, and then when the user runs it, they either pick a support technician, or get an ID number that you use to connect to them, through the repeater, using the chunk viewer.

Re:ChunkVNC + Instant Support (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313051)

I'm looking for something similar, but the lack of portability is a killer for me.

Re:ChunkVNC + Instant Support (2)

N8F8 (4562) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313325)

I'll try this. Looks like an excellent option. Thank you.

Re:ChunkVNC + Instant Support (1)

hhacklub (2928805) | 1 year,20 days | (#45316661) [] hello, we're working on a similar remote support and would love to share ideas! Would you drop us a line on [] or on twitter @hhacklub ? our userbase is similar though with a twist as we're shooting for the holy grail of actually helping the total novice 'digital immigrant' of the typical Granny as everyone in this day and age can use a hand with these magical machines (of frustration! lol) Thanks and cheers from jolly old england!

Re:ChunkVNC + Instant Support (1)

rduke15 (721841) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313615)

Unfortunately, the repeater is a Windows program. That is what you need to run on a server with a fixed IP. If you already have a server somewhere with a fixed IP, chances are high that it runs Linux or some BSD.

I once set up a very simple repeater on my Debian server, to use with UltraVNC (which is what ChunkVNC uses). It worked, but there were no easy instructions on how to set it up, or how to pre-configure the Windows UltraVNC endpoints. Also, if I remember correctly, it only supported one connection at a time.

Anyway, ChunkVNC would probably be a nice solution if it had a repeater daemon for Unix systems. And while ChunkVNC itself is open source, I don't think that it's UltraVNC component is.

Re:ChunkVNC + Instant Support (1)

BrentNewland (2832905) | 1 year,20 days | (#45316547)

Every tech I know has an always-on desktop connected to the internet with a rarely changing IP. And the forum has instructions on setting it up on Linux.

Re:ChunkVNC + Instant Support (1)

mcrbids (148650) | 1 year,20 days | (#45315857)

I run the ChunkVNC repeater on a CentOS EL6 box without issue. It's a perl script! I spent a day or two putting together an auto-build script for our customers, we offer ChunkVNC + InstantSupport.exe/dmg to all our clients. Unfortunately, VNC support for IOs/Android is still somewhat limited.

Look up the X window system (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312317)

The X windowing system is designed to be used on a network. Look it up. It might not be the schmanciest thing on the block, but you can do a lot with it.

Re:Look up the X window system (2)

jockm (233372) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312965)

So your solution is that Veterans, who need computer help, should install X-Windows on their (presumably) Windows systems?

Re:Look up the X window system (1)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,20 days | (#45315051)

If you're assuming they have Windows, then RDP should be an option.

Re:Look up the X window system (2)

hobarrera (2008506) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313057)

I'd mod this funny if I had points!

Log Me In Rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312333)

Log Me In Rescue is really the best. It's extremely well made. You just direct the users to - type in the 6 digit code you give them and you're off to the races. It's not open source or free.... but it's the best for what you want to do here.

Re:Log Me In Rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312667)


Free usually = not very good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312351)

Which is why I chose to purchase Citrix GoToAsssist Express. You can reboot in safe mode and it will reconnect you automatically. No free software does that.

But that's what I do, you asked about free. So you could always setup a VNC gateway. The agent connectects to the VNC gateway to initiate the connection, bypassing the firewall by initiating the connection from inside the customer network.

But seriously just buy GoToAssist Express. Because it make the job so much easier and saves so much time that it makes it worth the price.

Re:Free usually = not very good (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312547)

Which is why I chose to purchase Citrix GoToAsssist Express

My company has been using Citrix GoToMeeting for a few years now, and while it has worked well I've been rather annoyed lately with the spam I've received advertising GoToMeeting. The spam was sent to an email address that was never used for any transactions with Citrix. I've forwarded the spams to and asked for an explanation several times. I hoped that they would tell me the spams were sent by some rogue affiliate advertiser who would be terminated, but I received no explanation. So, since I dislike spammers I will be looking for an alternative when our current contract expires.

Re: Free usually = not very good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312617)

GoToMeeting is a sales tool and thus is not applicable here. I PAY for GoToAssist Express therefore I do not receive any spam from Citrix.

Re: Free usually = not very good (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312875)

GoToMeeting is a sales tool and thus is not applicable here.

Well, GoToMeeting is a desktop sharing service, and that's what the original post asked for, but that's beside the point. The point is that Citrix is a spammer, so people that dislike spammers might not want to do business with them in any capacity (GoToMeeting or GoToAssist).

I PAY for GoToAssist Express therefore I do not receive any spam from Citrix.

I'm not sure "therefore" is appropriate in the sentence above, but even if it is, what is your point? Everyone should pay for a Citrix service for every email address they have so they can have the luxury of not being spammed by Citrix?

Re:Free usually = not very good (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312615)

But that's what I do, you asked about free.

No, he didn't. He asked about open source. Answering that with something including citrix, is like answering oracle when someone asks for a community-friendly company.

Re:Free usually = not very good (1)

AtrN (87501) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313223)

OP may have written "open source" but I got the impression they really meant "zero cost".

Re:Free usually = not very good (1)

smart_ass (322852) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312759)

Disagree with subject line ... many great free solutions out there.

BUT ... have used GotoMeeting and GoToAssist for these tasks at work, and GoToAssist is fantastic.
Multiple connections in case you are supporting more than one person at a time and ability to reboot are both great.

Automatic "giving" of control is a nice feature compared with GoToMeeting.

Tradeoffs for remote desktop (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312369)

Rate the requirements:

                Sharing the victim's desktop with support staff
                Ease of installation
                Efficiency and responsiveness
                Multi-platform server support.
                Multi-platform client support
                Handling of non-7-bit-ASCII characters, such as Ctrl characters or Unicode
                Shared consoles

Nothing is going to do all of that, well, for free. NX, at, is surprisingly good and free for non-business use. But you're a business.

Re:Tradeoffs for remote desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45316411)

Went to It seems to me that there is no indication that you must not be a business. Probably you are referring to the enterprise products (that I don't think it's what he's looking for, anyway), but for the free mac or windows product there is no similar requirement.

webrtc desktop sharing (3, Interesting)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312393)

bleeding edge, but is cross platform and can be interfaced with your site seamlessly

Demo video of this in action (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312581)

Thanks to Chris Fisher [] and []

Re:Demo video of this in action (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313067)

The website says "only supported on chrome". Nice way to use web standards, recommend a single browser, instead of sniffing capabilities.

Re:webrtc desktop sharing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45314051)

It is installed on Firefox also.

Re:webrtc desktop sharing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45317021)

I am using this to support our customers (115+ at current count) and it has not crashed or broken on me once. WebRTC is the way to go and only gettng better.

UltraVNC Single Click (4, Informative)

number11 (129686) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312421)

UltraVNC Single Click [] is a small (Win) executable customized to connect the user to your address. You run VNC Viewer in "listen" mode. It's very simple to use, doesn't require installing, can be downloaded by the user or sent via email (if they can receive .exe files), works through user NAT. I've been using it for years, directed to my dynamic IP via dyndns. You can customize what the user client looks like. Don't know if it works with Win8 though, and it doesn't work for users running OSX or Linux.

Re:UltraVNC Single Click (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312471)

Mac users CAN go into Screen Sharing, [Computer Settings] and check a box that allows VNC, and let's them set a password for same

Re:UltraVNC Single Click (3, Informative)

Richy_T (111409) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312665)

His method uses the client in listen mode though. This is the solution I was going to suggest. It's simple to write a small self-extracting executable that contains the VNC server and launches it with parameters telling it to connect to the client. I even had it integrated with our helpdesk software so that the helpdesk people could choose to pick up the connections (the software I wrote to launch the server would actually wait until one of the helpdesk people "accepted" the user before launching the server).

Re:UltraVNC Single Click (3, Informative)

rosseloh (3408453) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312677)

This is what we use at our shop, but it's gone way downhill recently. There is now a problem/bug somewhere, either in a recent update of the client or in MS's implementation of UAC, that prevents you from controlling anything that requires admin permissions remotely. This happens even when UAC is fully disabled as far as I've seen. It used to just bring up the standard UAC prompt ("do you want to do this thing") that we couldn't see or click on, but once you got through it everything worked well.

Nothing quite like opening up MMC, suddenly finding you can't click anything, and having to walk the customer through how to look at event logs. I wish I knew who to blame.

Re:UltraVNC Single Click (1)

ErikTheRed (162431) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313341)

Weird. We haven't seen this yet, but we're not running the absolute latest build either.

Re:UltraVNC Single Click (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313469)

System modal dialog boxes, or UAC prompts now output to console 0. It won't be the same as the one the user is currently logged into

Re:UltraVNC Single Click (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312901)

I can second this recommendation, as long as users are on Windows, which I'm guessing they most likely are.

Once it's setup, it really is as simple as VNC can possibly be for users (literally, just: go to this website, download this file, click yes/allow to any security warnings).

That said, it's pretty amazing how difficult it is to talk some users through something as simple as this, but I guess it's not easy explaining anything technical to people who think their computer is a glorified dishwasher. also works pretty well and there's zero configuration on either end. You both download the same file that contains the viewer and listener, the listener generates a 12-digit number that the user read out to you over the phone which you enter into the viewer, done.

Re:UltraVNC Single Click (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313071)

The lack of portability is a shame though, I wonder why screen-sharing is usually windows-only.

port forward and reverse vnc (3, Informative)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312433)

I just open a port on my FW, and use a reverse VNC setup with a listening viewer.

The other guy connects to a listening viewer to my IP.

You could prolly find a portable-executable vnc server and roll it up with a launcher to call it with appropriate args like your IP.

Re:port forward and reverse vnc (1)

Richy_T (111409) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312675)

The VNC server *is* portable. So you can, indeed just roll it up into a launcher.

Re:port forward and reverse vnc (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312913)

Yes, it's called UltraVNC [] (1)

GoJays (1793832) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312447) []

It is free, no account necessary and does what you need. It is web browser based so it doesn't matter what OS you are on. (1)

Draknor (745036) | 1 year,20 days | (#45316111)

another plug for -- we use it for screen-sharing for work (such as virtual meetings, conference calls, etc). I paid for the professional account ($79/yr, I think?) because I get a conference phone line with that, and it was a simple, easy-to-use service that I felt was worth it.

Stupid-simple to use -- user just visits a simple URL ( to observer. If you pass presenter control to them, the browser will prompt to download an executable that runs to host. No install necessary, just download & run.

Dayon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312463)

There's Dayon!( which I've used before. It uses Java, and can be deployed using Java's Webstart, so no applet-issues. You can set up an easy to communicate website which provides the jnlp and binaries for webstart. All you need to do then is setup a port forward on your end. I helped plenty of non-techies with this, fully cross platform.

However... It's not the fastest, it will crash at times, and I guess with the new and heavy Java security restrictions even for webstart things get more complicated. Still, I like the idea of using Java for this, which has proven to work.

Old version of PcHelpware (1)

Dwedit (232252) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312493)

I use a custom build of the old version of PcHelpware, from the creators of UltraVnc. Not the new version, but the old version. The old version of PcHelpware lets me pick the port number, so I can get through restrictive firewalls that only allow well-known port numbers.

However, it's still a bit buggy on Vista/Windows 7, specifically, it crashes whenever a UAC prompt appears. I made a workaround for this, I replaced the main EXE with a stub version that disables UAC when you run it, and reenables UAC after it exits. I also got rid of the Login and Password prompt, because it's completely nonsensical and worthless.

When you want to support a PC, you just tell someone to download the EXE from your website, and run it. And guide them through the process of adding it to Norton's or Mcafee's exclusion list, reassuring Internet Explorer that it's okay to open EXE files, etc.

Chrome Remote Desktop (not OSS but very easy) (5, Informative)

Tetravus (79831) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312515)

Google published a remote desktop plugin for the Chrome browser. It's not Open Source, but it is free (as in beer), and professionally written installation / setup instructions are available in multiple languages.

Actual remote access for you will be controlled by the user, they create a one-time passkey in Chrome and share that with you to connect to their system.

Here's the plugin page: []

Here's the support page: []

For non-technical users adding a browser plugin is going to be much easier to understand than messing around with port forwarding and system permissions.

Re: free as in beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312811)

don't you mean free as in price? i'm new to this whole open source software stuff terminology.

Re: free as in beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45314447)

Linux programmers drink a lot.

Re: free as in beer (1)

swillden (191260) | 1 year,21 days | (#45314495)

Google published a remote desktop plugin for the Chrome browser. It's not Open Source, but it is free (as in beer)

Actually, it is open source. BSD licensed, and it's included in the Chromium source.

It's very easy to use, fast and reliable. I use it daily to connect to my desktop machine at work.

Re: free as in beer (1)

zippthorne (748122) | 1 year,20 days | (#45317877)

Two kinds of free:

Free as in "Free Speech"
Free as in "Free Beer"

Usually shortened to "Free as in Beer" and just "Free." By definition, an open source project must be the first kind of free, but need not be the second kind. Things can be the second kind of free as well, or both. A lot of open source projects are both.

Re:Chrome Remote Desktop (not OSS but very easy) (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45313249)

Why not just use google talk? It has a desktop sharing option that works pretty well across many platforms.

Re:Chrome Remote Desktop (not OSS but very easy) (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45313405)

Actually, isn't it open source? Wikipedia [] claims that it's BSD licensed, and some google turns up links to the source. I'm not sure how easy it is to build and deploy from source though.

Re:Chrome Remote Desktop (not OSS but very easy) (1)

Splab (574204) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313803)

+1000 for this.

I just installed this on my grandmas computer, you can even add a desktop icon for easy use.

Re:Chrome Remote Desktop (not OSS but very easy) (2)

swillden (191260) | 1 year,21 days | (#45314513)

(Apologies for the double post; I accidentally posted this in reply to another post).

Google published a remote desktop plugin for the Chrome browser. It's not Open Source, but it is free (as in beer)

Actually, it is open source. BSD licensed, and it's included in the Chromium source.

It's very easy to use, fast and reliable. I use it daily to connect to my desktop machine at work.

OpenMeeting (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312599)

OpenMeetings [] is an Apache Foundation project. Java-based client. The feature set is overkill for support, but it supports voice chat and screen sharing [] .

Re:OpenMeeting (1)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,21 days | (#45314295)

Just checked out OpenMeetings. It is really neat stuff. Will probably install it.

Veterans (1)

Skiron (735617) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312625)

First you need to define what veteran means. Old farts like me that have been around since 1959 and on the Internet since 1995 and also in the industry for 20 years ~ or vets RAMBO style.

If they are like me, then what is it for? If it is for the other, the a Uzi would suffice with a redirect to "I'll be back"

It should be called "Old farts that don't have a clue"

Jitsi (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312661)

It's free software, it runs on Mac, Windows, and a variety of Linuxes, it has built-in text and audio chat. The only setup needed is to register an XMPP account on and then enter that account name and the password in Jitsi the first time you start it.

The downside is that it's written in Java and, at least on Debian, uses a butt-ugly widget theme that doesn't seem to be changeable. (1)

ftldelay (856655) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312715)

For helping friends/family, I like Both of you go there and download/run an EXE. Once it launches, they click to generate a code that they give to you and you connect using it. It's VNC-based and nothing to install.

Open Source? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312753)

I too am in the market for such a support tool, but I am past my rigid requirements for open source and have made my requirements far more simple.
1. Inexpensive.
2. Viewer must work from a Linux workstation.
3. Must work well.

So far I have been using LogMeIn Free, Ultra VNC SC(Single Click), and other failed attempts. None of these solutions have provided all of my requirements.
UltraVNC SC - Poor quality/reliability connections freeze, color consumes too much bandwidth, UAC is a nightmare, no persistence through reboots, encryption is hard. The ONLY thing going for it is that it is free and can be viewed from Linux.
LogMeIn Rescue - This is a great solution, but the cost for me is too high.
Bomgar - I really want this. But the cost is WAY too high for a single man shop.
GoToAssist - Expensive and windows only viewer.

Right now, I am preparing to try Screen Connect. The one time cost is acceptable and the promise is great. Hopefully they deliver on the promise that it works well.

OMG (-1, Troll)

msobkow (48369) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312763)

You mean TeamViewer expects you to pay something for using their product to run a business?

Ever hear of "business expenses", you pathetic leech?

Re:OMG (1, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312777)

And no, just because you're providing free services to vets doesn't mean I don't think you should pay your share. Too many people try to demand "free" just because they're a "charity." If you're not a *registered* charity, pay your share.

Re:OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45313035)

He's a 'pathetic leech' for trying to reduce his business expenses? He's not complaining about it not being free, just looking for other options.

Re:OMG (1)

msobkow (48369) | 1 year,21 days | (#45314353)

Have you checked what TeamViewer actually charges? It's a very reasonable fee for something you expect to be using every day.

So, yes, leech if that paltry sum is "too much money."

Re:OMG (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45313417)

Some of my clients are *registered* charities and several of them have more money than my clients who are regular businesses. Being a *registered* charity doesn't mean they are poor. On the opposite side, one of my "for profit"client just went bankrupt and he lost a lot of personal money. So who do you think should pay their share again?

As for me, I thought about buying a license for TeamViewer or LogMeIn, to use them "professionally" (i.e. asking to be paid for the service), but the price is insane. If was using the product everyday it wouldn't bother me, but I need this kind of things about 4 or 5 times a year. So that's basically between 100$ and 200$ for a 5 minutes intervention. It cost me a lot less to take my car and go on site or to simply use the integrated windows remote desktop.

You are an imbecile.

Pertino client (shameless promotion) (1)

markjl (151828) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312819)

Check out, a network as a service startup. You can set up a free account for three devices forever. If you need to expand past three devices at the same time, then Pertino has become valuable to you.

At a minimum, you get a very easy to use (and administer) private, secure network between you and whomever you invite onto your network, so you can do Remote Desktop, VNC, X, or whatever else you choose for you and your family to use without resorting to GotoMyPC, WebEx, etc. (mind you, all of those solutions are valid Desktop Sharing services, too) . But you can also do NFS, SMB, FTP, etc. for file sharing. Or anything: you finally have a virtual private network where you and your remote clients/family get a LAN-like experience in the cloud.

Full disclosure: I work there, so I am hopelessly biased. The value I see in this solution is that it is easy and secure for everyone, covers mobile and desktop, and allows you to try almost any solution out there to solve your needs because you have a peer to peer network with remote devices.

Re: shameless plug (face the music) (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312871)

Please compare and contrast your system to the LogMeIn group's Hamachi.

What you describe sounds similar to Hamachi. Is this the case? If so, what do you think makes yours better?

This can't be a real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312863)

VNC, take your pick of which variant. How could anyone remotely in contact with the open source world not know about VNC?

Re:This can't be a real question (1)

foobar bazbot (3352433) | 1 year,21 days | (#45312935)

VNC, take your pick of which variant. How could anyone remotely in contact with the open source world not know about VNC?

From TFS (emphasis mine):

Recently I switched to Meraki Systems Manager because it is free — and it uses VNC — but unfortunately it isn't intended for the one-time-use type support I'll be offering.

So... yeah. He actually does "know about VNC". He's just wanting a good, user-friendly wrapper/front-end suited to what he's doing with it. As you say, it's a case of "take your pick of which variant" -- and he's asking for recommendations on which variant to pick.

Chrom(ium) Remote Desktop (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45312953)

Google Chrome has a little known extension from Google called Remote Desktop that may fit your requirements. I think it's open souce as part of chromium. It requires some non open-source Google services to operate, though (nat traversal, authentication, looking up remote assistance invitations etc).

UltraVNC Single Click (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45313043)

UltraVNC Single Click, use it all the time

Shouldn't it be AskSnowden (1)

Provocateur (133110) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313355)

He may have something that he knows was/is being used currently...

Not sure if it helps (1)

dimko (1166489) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313421)

But, Chromium/Chrome has plugin for remote desktop. I don't know license of plugin, but it's there, easy to install, i tested it on Linux, should also work on Linux. It's easy to use. It's not running in normal server/client model, in a sence, that server is some google service, but it does what says on the tin. Though I have my privacy concern here. Its UBER easy, mom tested. (I have gentoo, mom's laptom Linux Mint) You only need plugin, which is easy to install, and chromium on both computers. No need for registration. On one end auto generated key on another this key is accepted.(so you need to make a phone call or VOIP out)

jitsi (3, Informative)

higuita (129722) | 1 year,21 days | (#45313777)

I use locally a set of scripts that remotly install a vnc, start it, connect to it and uninstall it on the end.

For more remote access, i use both teamviewer or jitsi.

Jitsi is a XMPP cliente in java, with great support for VOIP and Video, and allows remotly control the computer... so it's easy to start a session for people that i'm connected.

with a little script, you can ask to run a url that runs the jitsi, configure it (asking a name+email probably) and starting a chat. You can then ask for remote control the machine.

yes, teamviewer is simpler, but with jitsi you can control all the process

mobile shop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45313951)

Display options (1)

amightywind (691887) | 1 year,21 days | (#45314091)

Use the -display option on your app. Don't forget the suffix :0.0.

fp cUm!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45314379)

Google Chrome and remote desktop app (3, Informative)

caseih (160668) | 1 year,21 days | (#45314395)

By far the easiest and cheapest would be to have them be running Google Chrome and install the remote desktop app. They need to just fire it up, have it generate a code, and give you that code that you plunk in your end. It's fairly fast, secure (one-time codes), and works on mac, linux, and windows. []

Re:Google Chrome and remote desktop app (1)

swillden (191260) | 1 year,20 days | (#45315885)

(And note that it Chrome Remote satisfies the Open Source requirement, too.)

Crossloop Mac/Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#45314701)

Crossloop is free, we've been using it and it works on VNC behind the scenes. One-time access code for each session.

Fog Creeks Copilot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45315287)

ScreenConnect (1)

macmouse (525453) | 1 year,20 days | (#45315771)

I know it's not free, but you can host the software on a linux box (even a cheap VPS will do nicely) and their pricing is *significantly* better than team viewer/etc, especially in bulk,. I also know they offer heavily discounted non-profit pricing.

It's mainly designed for the "run it for a few minutes, solve the issue and automatic uninstall when done" model.
The problem with, is that the person has to read you numbers off the screen before you connect.
With Screen connect, they just run the app and you are automatically connected to the support rep.

I really like the way their software works because you can setup a "one click" installer, send them a webpage to pick a queue or make a separate queue for each rep. It works great between restarts and with UAT, as well has the option of letting you securely store the users password (so you don't have to keep asking them each time and the user doesn't have to tell you what it is either). []

WTF?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45315803)

I thought every IT guys like me hate doing desk support. It's stupid!

If some people can't figure out how to use computer by RTFM or Internet, they should stop using it and crawl back to the caves they come from.

Re:WTF?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45316075)

If some people can't figure out how to use computer by RTFM or Internet, they should stop using it and crawl back to the caves they come from.

You're under no obligation to accept these folks' money, and we're under no obligation not to.

xpra - the swiss army knife of session forwarding (1)

tota (139982) | 1 year,20 days | (#45316139)

I am still amazed at how people can recommend 1990s technologies like VNC and NX.
Things have moved on quite a bit since then, and those two technologies have not.

Re:xpra - the swiss army knife of session forwardi (1)

xint_64 (701832) | 1 year,20 days | (#45316545)

Do you have any proof of that? AFAIK there is very little remained in NX about the original X Window roots. They have ditched X completely even before Wayland developers decided to do it. While they have terminal servers for Linux that use X, the new version works on windows and mac and uses video encoding everywhere. This is no different compared to what OnLive or the NVidia Shield are doing.

Did you try NoMachine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 days | (#45316361)

Not open-source, but if you are looking for a remote desktop software that is 100% free and really cross-platform you should give NoMachine a try. I'm using it to access all my Mac machines at home and it works really really well. Before I was using the built-in Apple Remote Desktop. ARD is good and fast, but you don't have sound, no mounting of remote devices. If it was possible, NoMachine is even faster and has it all. I don't know how these guys are doing it but it really kicks ass.

I think NoMachine is one of those companies that have been damaged by their initial Linux footage. The products are good and basically there is nothing really comparable in the OSS world (except products based on their own NX software e.g. freenx, x2go, neatx, that is at least interesting), but at the same time they are bashed all the time for not being "more free". They have now servers for Windows and Mac. What I understand is that they are trying to move away from Linux. This is not a good news for the Linux world.

Google Chrome (1)

jobdrb (920458) | 1 year,20 days | (#45316557)

Google Chrome, do it, and do well! And its free. You need only to install a plugin in Chrome. You can also, use Google Hangout, which has some sharing facilities. All is free and works.

crossloop (1)

cjestel (788399) | 1 year,20 days | (#45317557)

I have used crossloop for a long time. Simple download, works with mac and windows. From my system as the viewer, I was able to get it to work after some fiddling with it using wine. It makes an outbound connection from the end user, so you don't have to worry about punching a hole in the typical end users router. They also have advertising facets on their website where you can list yourself as a professional in certain areas and people looking for help can connect to you for support that way too (I never bothered to list my services there, so I don't know how well that portion works). []
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