Whilst RealVNC is freeware and a very basic remote access package with minimal security, TridiaVNC Pro shows what can be done with open source software.
In return for $49, you get a secure alternative to Windows XP remote assistance.
The Windows NT, 2000, Me and XP-compatible package supports SSL encryption, along with centralized user authentication. The software also integrates with NTLM, LDAP and NDS user authentication systems.
TridiaVNC Pro is actually a professional version of Tridia's freeware version of VNC, and is available for a wide variety of platforms, ranging from IBM AIX 4.3 or later (Big Blue's version of Unix) and HP-UX, right through to Linux and Solaris.
Interestingly, Tridia has taken several of the features of pcAnywhere and integrated them into the Pro package. These include network discovery and data compression, the latter of which can be optimized for the speed of the underlying connection.
Version 1.5, which we tested, does not have a file transfer function, but Tridia says this will be available in a later edition. The application was easy to set up, and the explorer- user interface meant getting around the system was trouble-free.
Support for Windows NT authentication is available, as is an interesting 'silent install' facility, which allows administrators to remotely install the software across a company network without intervention by the distant user.
Initially, we thought that this feature was a potential security hazard, but the silent install option does require administrator privileges on the network concerned.
Tridia is in the process of renaming Tridia Pro as Doublevision for Windows, and has plans to release versions of Doublevision for other platforms. Most users of VNC, however, will be familiar with TridiaVNC Pro, which continues to be marketed as such.
We were especially impressed that the 30-day evaluation version of the software, which requires the user to register, also comes with a 30 days of full support.
Overall, once Tridia has added a file transfer function to the package, it will give other more expensive software a good run for their money.