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A Remote Desktop alternative sheds its drawbacks

VNC, the cross-platform option for remote control systems, had some drawbacks, some said. But new products from RealVNC close up the gaps.

VNC's core code is completely open source, and both code and executables are available for free. It does not require a license to use, allows multiple concurrent users and there are no connection limits. It has client and server programs for just about every computing platform in existence, making it extremely useful in heterogeneous environments where Windows desktops may be used to manage non-Windows servers or even vice versa.

Some people have pointed out that one of VNC's drawbacks, compared to Remote Desktop, is that VNC doesn't have the level of built-in manageability via Group Policy controls that Remote Desktop has. And others have remarked that VNC doesn't have the kind of management tools Remote Desktop has for dealing with multiple user connections or user accounts.

A company called SmartCode Solutions has put out a family of products designed to close those gaps: SmartCode VNC Manager.

VNC Manager exists in a few different editions. The Standard Edition lets you administer VNC connections for one or more machines, including automated deployment of VNC, scriptable actions for how VNC servers behave before or after accepting a connection, remote control (start/stop/pause) of services and even the ability to see multiple VNC connections in a "thumbnail" view. The Enterprise Edition includes features specifically for use in domains, such as scanning for all VNC connections in a particular domain, remote password resets, more sophisticated remote deployment and more. SmartCode also puts out an ActiveX implementation of VNC that can be embedded in a Web browser or used wherever an ActiveX control version of VNC might be needed. You can arrange for 30-day trial versions for all of these products.

In addition to the code and executables, SmartCode offers another free download, a set of Windows 2000/XP/2003 Group Policy templates for configuring several of the most popular VNC implementations (RealVNC, TightVNC and UltraVNC). If you have been looking to use VNC in a managed environment, the templates may be one of the best places to start.

Fast guide: Remote control software

  Tip 1: VNC variant provides remote control boost
  Tip 2: A Remote Desktop alternative sheds its drawbacks
  Tip 3: Remote control freeware boosts cross-platform system administration
  Tip 4: Securing Remote Desktop


Serdar Yegulalp is editor of The Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!

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