It’s cool, and it’s free

Now you can check what’s going on in your server, or any other computer on the network, using neat, new, free software.



Here’s a cool piece of software that can save you money.


Most small office networks have a file server. Now you can buy a monitor for that computer, which will rarely be turned on, or you can use remote control software to operate the computer, without having to have a monitor or waste time moving over to the computer to operate it.


This remote control software is also handy in situations where you may want to have a look at a computer that you are nowhere near (or even your home computer). It’s a great tool for troubleshooting.


Anyway, the product, PCAnywhere, has been around forever. What you probably don’t know is that for small solutions, you can use a product called VNC for free. That’s right: free, as in it costs you nothing.

Why would VNC do this? So if you want to use their bigger solutions, you will be already on their path and be happy to pay for an upgrade. But for most small users, this isn’t going to happen.


When installing VNC, you have to install it on two computers (kind of obvious). One is the server – the one your want to control. The other computer is setup to be the viewer – the computer you use to do the controlling.


Now you can achieve the same solution using Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop in Windows. Windows Remote solution under Windows XP is accessed via Control Panel>System>Remote.

However, both computers have to be using the correct version of Windows, and it’s a lot harder to connect up this solution when the computers reside on different networks. Effectively, it means that you are unlikely to get it going without assistance.


VNC, however, works across any TCP/IP network. Yes, the internet is a TCP/IP network. Plus it comes in lots of different flavours, including Windows, Linux and even a Java-based version that runs on almost anything.


VNC is available at


To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



Allison writes: I really liked the premise of your article – and then I started reading and felt that it was worth noting that your view here is really narrow.

I have been working with and using free software exclusively for three years and my partner has 10+ years experience programming and using Open Source. In fact we run a business on the basis of FOSS, training, programming, web apps development, service etc. What I found a little bit offensive about your writing was this: “An aspect of competition between the programmers (who want to get paid to write the software) and the system administrators (who want to get paid to support the software)”.

There are actually people out here who do it because ethically and morally it is better. When I program you a piece of software to fulfil one of your needs, then what? Do I licence it and declare that no-one is allowed to access or modify my work, and as my clients you have to pay for the right to keep using the same stuff over and over. Or should I release it to a worldwide community of people, often much more experienced, talented or creative than I – who will modify, expand, stabilise and share the software around, perhaps eventually fulfilling more of the needs of my client who commissioned the software in the first place.

My point is that using the word evil in this context is pretty offensive and narrowminded considering that mini-soft have a whole business model that revolves around providing inferior, often broken software which no-one has any right to use outside of the strict restrictions supplied with the licence. The model also includes deliberately making upgrades of programs which won’t talk to one another – effectively forcing users to pay for whole new product with each upgrade. I could go on, but I won’t. I just wanted to welcome you to do more research about the Free and Open Source Software Community before you bandy about summaries on it.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments