Latest OSX - Apple's Remote Desktop suite - is it free using OSX?

I talked to some Apply people regarding management of our Macs on our domain, and they went over the Remote Desktop suite of features like AutInstall, Power Copy, Application Usage reports, etc, and stated the Apple Remote Desktop suite, if you will, came with OSX and was not an additional cost - i.e. free to manage our Mac books without 3rd party tools on our enterprise network.  

Then, looking online, i see pricing for volume licenses, price per seat, etc of $79.  Looked all over online, and cant find anything definitive.

1. Is Apple's Remote Desktop suite free if i have a OSX server as the management server on my network?

2. Even with my OSX server (or 2) - will i have to buy seats for $79 for each of my Mac books on my network?

3. Please provide a link to verify this, if you're able, as well.  i could not find one :-)

Jody DavisSystems EngineerAsked:
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Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceCommented:
1.  It does not state the suite is free if you have a OSX server as the management server on your network.  If it was I believe it would state this in the app store itself.

2.  It does not state if you have to buy a seat for each of your macbooks.  The software appears to just need to be installed on your main computer to remote connect to the other macbooks on your network.

The reviews on the Apple Store are a mixed bag.
Kyle SantosQuality AssuranceCommented:
Also, if you need a free resource to connect to PCs:
I used Remote Login more frequently to do the things you've described.  You can manage quite a lot more Macs via the command line anyway.  Apple Remote Desktop is not free.

The App Store version is $79 per copy that you wish to run.  Each copy can connect to an unlimited amount of Macs, just not all at the same time.  I can usually connect 3 simultaneously and stay connected to them indefinitely.  If I connect to 4 or 5, they start disconnecting on their own as they move out of focus, even on a Gigabit Ethernet Network.  Microsoft's RDP lets me connect 30 or more sessions simultaneously without disconnections.

Before the App Store version, it was $499 for unlimited and $299 for 10 seats.  If you were part of an .edu, it was $299 for unlimited and $199 for 10 seats.  You can connect to more than 10 seats if you were to delete connections and add new ones, but that was a major hassle.  Some of my previous places paid for them, so I couldn't bring them with me.  They were also shared between users on a separate office Mac that was used by other admins, another reason I preferred the command line.

If you happen to have an Apple Developer account, you can sometimes find and download the developer preview for free.  When it's time for updates, you essentially get a "free" copy.  Don't get a developer account if you aren't going to develop anything.  It costs $99/year, so it's more expensive than just buying the App.  If you already have an account, you might be able to get a copy, depending on when they're releasing their preview.

You should learn the command line and use ssh to connect to Remote Login.  It's much faster and you can easily run scripts unattended and it's also free.  There's only a handful of apps that require the GUI to manage and install, and those are really the only times I really ever need to use a GUI.  I found the utility not worth the $299 or $499 cost.  $79 is more reasonable, but not low enough for the features it provides.

If you don't want to pay and you have a isolated, secure local network, you can also use Screen Sharing to access the Mac GUI.  I only ever leave Remote Login turned on, but change the port, so that standard script kiddie scanners don't see it.  I then use the command line to enable or disable the other sharing features.   You can use any free VNC viewer, including from Windows, to connect to Screen Sharing.  There's also a free, built-in Screen Sharing App in OSX too.  It is basically unencrypted VNC.  Do not use Screen Sharing if you're on an open, easily accessible network, because everything is sent over the network unencrypted and can be intercepted and viewed by anyone.  Avoid typing passwords through Screen Sharing.  Apple Remote Desktop is basically encrypted VNC, with additional features.

Another free method is to use Remote Login and use ssh tunneling to encrypt OSX VNC, but since Lion or Snow Leopard, you can't start that VNC Server remotely.  This was how I used to connect, until they made the Login Window "Not a Display Screen".  I would have to start it while logged in to the computer, then do a switch user or switch to login screen.  Then, I'd have access until someone rebooted the remote system.  This actually allowed other users to log in to the desktop while you connected to a separate Desktop at the same time.  You could also rig multiple OSX VNCs to separate logged in accounts and have a multi-user system, but it was tedious to get multiple desktops started.  I've gotten 3 separate sessions going before.  I think a 4th one on a high resolution display would have saturated the network.

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