A free alternative to TeamViewer and AnyDesk

Universal Connector

Article from Issue 266/2023

For a long time, TeamViewer and AnyDesk dominated the remote maintenance software market. Recently, a new player entered the scene in the form of the free and GPL-licensed RustDesk.

SSH has been considered the gold standard for managing remote machines at the command line on Linux for years. If you prefer a graphical approach, you can use, say, VNC. As long as this all happens on your organization's network, there are rarely any problems.

Access to other computers via a public network is different. Because the remote stations on private networks cannot normally be easily reached via the Internet, an go-between is required, such as TeamViewer or AnyDesk. This is a public server that knows the clients' IDs and how to reach the clients. But these two candidates have two issues in common: The sources are not open, and the commercial versions are quite expensive. For example, TeamViewer charges just under $40 per month for a single-user license, while AnyDesk charges about $15.

Free Alternative

RustDesk [1], on the other hand, shares its sources and is free of charge – even for commercial use. The project, which was launched only about one and a half years ago, is released under the GPLv3 and is freely available to everyone. The sources and binaries can be found on RustDesk's GitHub page [2]. The software, which – as the name suggests – is written in Rust, is available for many different platforms, including Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS.


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