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Remote access to workstations and servers

Posted on 2007-03-21
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Last Modified: 2010-08-05
Hello,

I need to support various desktops - windows and Mac - remotely. The desktops are not all in the same building, not all on the same network, some have no server at all - just a remote desktop at a home office (sales person). I use remote console for windows servers, but what to do about the individula workstations?

I would like to know my options for software that works for both macs and windows. I think there are two situaltions- one if a user has an issue and I need to work with them to solve it - so they launch something perhaps. The second is if I am working on it and they have gone out to lunch.

Can someone help out and let me know where to start looking? This is a small biz market - so large enterprise solutions with large price tags won't really work out.

Thank you.

j
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Question by:jfmclaughl
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LauraEHunterMVP earned 200 total points
ID: 18766639
For Windows XP, you have built-in tools to address both "The user asks you for help and you share their desktop" as well as "Dial into the workstation while the user is away."  For the former, you'll use Remote Assistance, which can be configured on an individual workstation or via Group Policy:

Remote Assistance documentation:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/300546
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/maintain/rmassist.mspx
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/helpandsupport/learnmore/remoteassist/intro.mspx

For the latter, Windows XP has the same Remote Desktop client that's built into Windows Server 2003 - but rather than sharing a desktop with a user who has requested assistance, Remote Desktop in XP will log the current user out of the workstation entirely. (Be careful with this feature since if the current user has any open documents or programs it will close them without saving. You use Remote Desktop the same as when you access a server, by opening the Remote Desktop connection and specifying the IP address or DNS name of the workstation.

If you're running older versions of Windows (your original post didn't specify), unfortunately neither of these options will be available.  

As for the Mac workstations, I'm not a Mac person by any stretch but I've heard that 10.X has a similar functionality built into it such that you can use something like VNC to approximate a Remote Desktop connection.

Hope this helps.

Laura E. Hunter - Microsoft MVP: Windows Server - Networking
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by:rindi
rindi earned 200 total points
ID: 18766682
VNC server should work on MACs too. It works for windows and Linux..., and is free.

http://www.tightvnc.com/
http://www.realvnc.com/
http://ultravnc.sourceforge.net/

or google for other implementations.
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Expert Comment

by:KCTS
ID: 18766695
I can only speak for Windows as I only have experience of real computers (now that will get them going!)

You can use remote desktop on the windows workstations as  well, though its limited to one user session at a time, which means the users screen goes blank if they are using the machine at the time.

You can use remote assistance, that is built into Windows. This is designed to be a colaberative solution so while you can connect and provide assistance you must be invited to do so first and then you need the user's co-operation to do things. Both of you can see the screen at the same time and contol the mouse/keyboard.

There are some free third party utilities like VNC which is available in a variety of different flavours which will allow you take control of another PC.

Then we start getting into the paid for utiliies like the reasonably priced dameware.

PC anywhwere and LogMeIn. Im sure if you Google for any of these you will get lost of info.
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Author Comment

by:jfmclaughl
ID: 18766697
Thanks, Laura for your speedy reply. I'll take a look at those links.

I would rather not have the client log out of the system since the problem is there on their desktop and I want to debug it, look at the errors, etc. I know I've been given a URL to webex for veritas debugging. How would I go about getting something like that, do you know?

Mac people - please respond too, since I must support both desktops.

Thanks.
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Author Comment

by:jfmclaughl
ID: 18766802
has anyone used VNC for the MAC?

j
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 18766827
No, but the realvnc link I posted has a MAC version, the enterprise version (not free). The others come with source code so you should definitely be able to compile it for MAC's. It'll of course also depend on the OS version your MAC's are running. Tiger is 'nix based and so the unix versions of vnc should work there.
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Assisted Solution

by:strung
strung earned 50 total points
ID: 18770899
OS X has a vnc server built in to the operating system. See the links here:

http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20051102173302946&query=vnc

http://www.macosxhints.com/search.php?query=vnc&mode=search&type=all&keyType=all

Another alternative is a commercial cross-platform remote control product called Timbuktu Pro:

http://www.netopia.com/software/products/tb2/
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Assisted Solution

by:cvonrabe
cvonrabe earned 50 total points
ID: 18803238
Have used VNC for the Mac for some time. Server is OSXVnc. My experience with VNC is excellent. I have even used it through a firewall locked down to only allow ssh, using ssh port forwarding.

OSXVnc can be set to auto start on boot, so the machine will be accessible anytime it is on. I have several Macs in my environment that are headless.

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