Many faced the need to remotely access their computers or servers. I have compiled a selection of free programs for remote access to a computer. All programs are personally tested by me. Some of them allow you to deploy your own management server through which connections will occur.
This product repeats the functionality of the previous one, which is not surprising, since the development was started by former teamviewer employees. He gained popularity at the time of tightening the control of free connections of the latter. AnyDesk also allows you to run it for free only for personal use, but it doesn’t really do anything if you use it for commercial activities. That is why he has gained an audience in the last few years. I think the day is not far off when he, too, will begin to block free use for commercial purposes. Infrastructure and its support cost money.
The AnyDesk client is more lightweight than TeamViewer and, in addition to remote access, it does not have any extra functionality. Personally, I like it better.
There is a curious program for controlling a computer remotely through a browser – DWService. What distinguishes it is that it is completely free. It works in much the same way as all similar programs. Install the server part of the application (agent) on the computer, and the browser acts as a client. All popular systems are supported – Win / Lin / Mac.
In order to connect to computers, you need to register (only email is needed) in order to have access to your personal account. And from there there is a connection to your computers.
I tested the program a little. I won’t say that I liked everything. Just an example. If you run the agent without installation, then you need to pass the agent code and password to connect. So, they cannot be copied. And the code consists of 11 digits. I didn’t understand what the point is. Why is it not possible to copy it.
If you install the agent permanently, then there is no such problem. In your personal account, add a new agent, get an installation code. Then install the agent on the computer, specify the installation code, and it will be linked to your personal account. After that, you can connect through the browser by going to the personal account.
I do not know a completely free analogue with similar functionality. So the product deserves attention. No need to bypass any restrictions and think something about licenses. It can be installed and safely used at work.
For Windows, there are many different programs for remote control of a computer. Moreover, both paid and free. There is no such variety for Linux. All remote access programs known to me personally work on the basis of the VNC protocol, which is very slow.
There is another solution – X2Go. It works on the basis of the NX protocol, which shows good performance compared to VNC, especially on slow channels. X2Go is a server that installs directly on a Linux machine. And you can connect to it from any other system, including Windows, using a client for it.
Trying this stuff is easy. I’ll show you the example of the XFCE working environment on Ubuntu 20. Install XFCE:
apt install xfce4 xfce4-goodies xorg dbus-x11 x11-xserver-utils
apt install x2goserver x2goserver-xsession
You don’t need to configure anything, all services start automatically. The connection is via ssh, so you don’t need to open anything special on the firewall.
Let’s connect from a Windows machine. To do this, download the client – https://wiki.x2go.org/doku.php/download:start. Launch and configure connection settings. It is enough to specify the ip address, ssh account and XFCE environment. Everything is very easy and fast. I tried everything myself, I liked it.
I used to have a virtual machine in Europe on Linux with a graphical environment. I used it to work in a browser from European ip, so as not to fool around with a proxy or vpn. I needed a clean separate computer and a browser. But I quickly got bored, because VNC is uncomfortable to surf. I’ll try now with X2Go.
Another open source project for remote access to computers is MeshCentral. To connect devices to each other, you can use both public servers and your own. The server part is written in NodeJS, so it’s quite easy to set up and run. Linux example:
npm install meshcentral node node_modules/meshcentral
Under Windows, there is a ready-made installer that will automatically install NodeJS and the MeshCentral server itself.
Remote hosts are managed through a browser. This distinguishes MeshCentral from many similar systems. Of the free ones, I don’t know anything like it at all.
In the local network, the agents themselves find the server by multicast. In other cases, you will need to specify the server address in the agent settings so that a connection can be established through it. In addition to directly accessing the computer screen, you can view hardware information, connect to the console, view cpu and memory load graphs, and transfer files.
Youtube has a detailed series of videos on all kinds of settings. Everything that is possible is there – directly installing the server, two-factor authorization, working through nginx reverse proxy, setting up Let’s Encrypt certificates and much more. It’s unusual to see such a detailed series of videos for an open source project.
It’s very easy to deploy and try MeshCentral. It is enough to install the server. Access it through the web interface. Select an agent for your operating system and install. There is support for mobile devices. After installing the agent, you can connect to the host from the control panel.
If anyone is using MeshCentral at home, please provide feedback. Like this software in real operation. It looks very comfortable. I myself use commercial software for remote control of computers through a browser. I buy it as a service.
A very interesting service for remote control of computers – Getscreen.me – came to my review. And although there are a lot of services for remote connection to computers, I’m sure this one will interest you. The main points for which I personally liked it right away are work through the browser, integration with telegram (there are cool features) and a convenient personal account through which everything is managed.
There is a free plan for managing two devices. The cost of paid tariffs is very democratic. Lower than analogues, but it is more convenient to use. At least that’s how it seemed to me. I did not know about the service before, but now I will keep it in mind.
I think this product needs no introduction. It would be wrong not to mention him in this collection. It differs from the products described above in that it can be used for free only for personal needs. But it is difficult to establish it so reliably, it is customary for us to use it everywhere. At one time, he began to actively block all connections that he considered commercial, but then again softened his policy. Nevertheless, during this time its competitors managed to appear and get stronger.
In general, for personal use, this product is ideal, as it is known to everyone and easy to start and connect. Of the minuses, I note that it is starting to turn into a combine with a bunch of additional services, in addition to remote access. Hence the client is heavy, and takes a long time to start.
This concludes my review of programs for remote access to a computer. If you think that I missed some useful project with a permanent free version, then share it in the comments. I plan to update this top as I get acquainted with new programs.