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I need a remote assistance tool (i.e. tool that makes it possible to control another persons screen) that:

  1. is free software (as per the free software definition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Free_Software_Definition - so free as in freedom - not free as in zero cost)
  2. works between two machines that are both NAT'ed behind different NAT-walls
  3. does not require modification of NAT-wall (i.e. port forwarding or reverse SSH to a public server is no-go)
  4. works as both client and server on both Windows 7+XP and GNU/Linux

The tools I have looked at so far are:

  • TeamViewer delivers 2, 3, and 4, but fails 1 because of its license.

  • Google Chrome Remote Desktop delivers 2, 3, and 4, but fails 1 because of its license.

  • LogMeIn, Citrix GoToMeeting, WebEx, GoToMyPC, join.me all fail 1 because of their license.

  • The different VNC tools I have tested deliver 1 and 4, but fails for either 2 or 3.

  • Linux' rdesktop seems only to work on Linux as client so fails 4 and maybe 2+3.

So what I am basically asking for is a free software version of TeamViewer/Google Chrome Remote Desktop.

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VNC is pretty much your only choice. –  Ramhound Aug 6 '12 at 12:45
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3 Answers

Have a look at Gitso

Gitso is a frontend to reverse VNC connections. It is meant to be a simple two-step process that connects one person to another's screen. First, the support person offers to give support. Second, the person who needs help connects and has their screen remotely visible. Because Gitso is cross-platform (Linux, OS X and Windows) and uses a reverse VNC connection, it greatly simplifies the process of getting support.

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From code.google.com/p/gitso/wiki/Howto: [...] requires a port forward on a NATed network. This would make it fail 3. Can you confirm that this is not the case? Also it seems to have an open bug code.google.com/p/gitso/issues/detail?id=58 which might actually solve the double NAT issue. –  Ole Tange Aug 6 '12 at 18:18
@OleTange: Sorry, I never fully evaluated gitso myself. We use TeamViewer ourselves. I guess if they write that in their HowTo, they'll know best :( But I don't see how a free solution, without a third party system, could establish a connection in that case. But the Jingle idea sounds interesting. –  Oliver Salzburg Aug 6 '12 at 18:25
The third party could be something like Jabber. It seems Jingle is XMPP and thus Jabber'ish. This got me searching for Jingle clients, and Jitsi is a free client. According to jitsi.org/index.php/Main/Features you can do Desktop Sharing, so that might actually answer my question. The license is LGPL, so I just need to see if double NAT works. –  Ole Tange Aug 6 '12 at 18:46
@OleTange: Nice. If you find a solution on your own, be sure to let us know ;) –  Oliver Salzburg Aug 6 '12 at 18:50
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You can try Ammyy admin

While using Ammyy you can see this: how ammy looks

About Ammyy:

It's a very slick application. Both the host and remote user download the same file - a tiny (128kb), portable executable. Launch it, and Ammyy displays one tab for the client and a second for the host (operator). Just like TeamViewer, your host connects to an echo server and receives an ID. Enter it into your client id window and click connect. Like TeamViewer, all communications are fully encrypted.

Once the host confirms your request, you're in. It's not as fast as TeamViewer, and it doesn't support autoscaling - but it does have a few advantages. Price is one, obviously, but I also appreciate that the Ammyy host service can be installed while you're connected to a client.

It will also remember authorized connections and automatically add remote operators to its list of permitted users. Ammyy also sports a file transfer mode which looks and functions much like TeamViewer's version. Again, AA's implementation isn't quite as fast, but it's still good enough to get the job done.

While auto scaling your hosts' screen isn't an option, you are able to zoom to predefined levels. There are also buttons to send ctrl-alt-delete and ctrl-esc to your host (TeamViewer lacks the latter).

For a free application with no nag screens, Ammyy Admin is a simple and highly functional tool for remote support.

You can download ammy from here

Download Ammyy

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Cool. Thanks for taking the time to improve your answer :) –  Oliver Salzburg Aug 6 '12 at 13:52
I have a feeling Ammyy fails 1 (just like TeamViewer and a bunch of the others). Can you point me to the license of Ammyy that shows it is indeed Free Software and where I can download the source code? –  Ole Tange Aug 6 '12 at 18:08
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  • is free software (LGPL)
  • uses XMPP or SIP to go through NAT, so if you can talk through a SIP phone, Jitsi should work, too
  • exists for GNU/Linux, Mac, and Microsoft Windows 32bit + 64bit.

and according to https://jitsi.org/index.php/Main/Features it supports Desktop sharing which might be usable as remote assistance tool.

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