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Cheapware: The Cheapskate's Guide To IT Tools

Virtual Network Computing (VNC)

Developed at AT&T, VNC is a remote-control tool, like Symantec's pcAnywhere and Microsoft Terminal Services. The big differences: VNC is free and, though

primarily used for Linux and Unix systems, is platform-independent, with versions available for Windows and Macintosh. With VNC, the remote computer is called the "server," and you control it from a system loaded with a VNC "viewer." The viewer is a very small program that can fit on a low-density floppy disk. The VNC server also contains a small Web server. If you connect to this Web server from a Java-enabled browser, you'll download the Java applet VNC viewer. VNC sessions are stateless on the client end. This means that if your VNC viewer crashes or you switch to a different computer, you can resume the VNC session right where you left off. Security is a bit lacking in the default install, however. You can require a password for a viewer to connect to the server, but though this password is encrypted, the rest of the session, including the graphical data and VNC protocol, is not. It is possible to tunnel VNC through SSH (Secure Shell), which would result in an encrypted session (see Windows users should note that it's a violation of Microsoft's EULA to use VNC on Windows servers. Sorry. Suggested by Lori MacVittie, Steven J. Schuchart. Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, others. Price: Freeware, open source (GPL). TFTP Server

TFTP (Trivial FTP) is a simple, small, unsecure file-transfer protocol. It is mostly used for transferring configs or firmware to and from routers, switches and other pieces of infrastructure. We like how SolarWinds' server can handle simultaneous transfers, set access control by IP address and work in receive-only mode. Suggested by Ron Anderson. Platform: Windows. Price: Freeware.

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