TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

Where Bomgar, logmein, and Webex cost a fortune we need to create a remote administration console

Patrick Binder's picture
I have looked and looked for free open source solutions to the common problem of needing remote access software that clients can dl and it unistalls when it it done or one that has jump client that install on every computer in the network so that administrators can manage the network. Every single one cost thousands per user license. I think that it would be easy enough to develop our own live bootable OS that allows remote access into, WIN, MAC, Linux, and smartphones of all flavors that runs a LAMP stack for management. and I believe strongly that the turnkey core has the necessary starting point to develop it. I would love to have some people help me and put our heads together. if nothing else it will tear down the cost of the other companies software to a much lower cost. I think that if we sucessfully develop a OS/VM solution that hundreds of small and starting out companies would benefit greatly from such a software leap. Now obviously we will have to have mutliple platform gurus working on this project to develop a platform that supports all the above. SO please can we create a development site to start designing this incredible software. I would like to see it have the functionality of all 3 software titles. bomgar, logmein, and webex combined. so lets start dicussing features and concepts. If we can compile the already existing freely available cross Platform Open Source Software together with already existing gateway,firewall,VPN software into one single appliance then have it set to defualt boot to runlevel 2 so that it is manageable through webmin primarily as all tkl is and design the webmin to manage all of the above functions. Is that something that will be relatively medium to compile?
Liraz Siri's picture

Great concept

Kudos to Patrick for taking the initiative. IMHO, this is what the open source is all about. As I said on another comment post, I love this idea and would seriously consider running the required infrastructure for NAT negotiation. It might not be necessary though:

http://samy.pl/pwnat/

Jeremy's picture

Wow, good find Liraz!

I just had a read about pwnat and I still find it hard to believe. That is certainly one clever dude! Using that to connect VNC over some secure networking (VPN?) and we're pretty much there!

I also liked the fact that you may be willing to back this idea with a TKL server if need be. You TKL guys rock! I think pwnat is probably cooler though! Quite a unique solution, well AFAIK anyway.

How cool would it be if I could just "TKL" into my home server from work! :)

Patrick Binder's picture

Ok it works with Linux and Mac OS's

Ok well if we are going to design the server it needs to be able to connect to all win, dos, unix (mac, solaris, oracle etc), linux (all OS's) and even if we use this we are still going to have to design a GUI administrator console as well as a client with a built in chat. the GUI admin console will need to have tabs to be able to be remoted into as many other clients at one time as we wish to be simulataneously remoted into as we as each tab will have sub tabs allowing remote view, local file to remote file system transfer(both directions), a command shell to the remote system. we will need two client types the first is a permanent jump client that you can easily select at any given time from the list and remote into the computer(server) with out gaining access persmissions each time from and end user for administering servers in a lights out configuration, the second client type would be a client that a end user downloads from the server to and gets put into a call pool for any tech to pickup and remote administrate that uninstalls itself upon the end of the session but allows for remote boot of the computer and restarts upong the computer booting up and while the computer has the client installed it skips the login process and logs in automatically. obviously the server version should have the same thing. Now at the server end we have to develop an ssl secured webmin for administrating the user accounts on the server as well as allowing for customization of the front page via html, xaml, or php. Clearly all the admin credentials will have to be kept in a MySQL database and managed by phpMyAdmin, wisely we should use the enterprise version of phpMyAdmin to allow for database replication for redundancy of the servers. Clearly we will have to use a LAMP stack or less likely a LAPP stack in order to design the site so that it is accesible for client to download the client or select a tech they prefer from the list and download a client that puts them into their call pool instead of the call center pool to be transfered to a tech. obviously there is a lot more that has to be done as well for features but this should be a nice list for us to use to start a flow sheet for the application design so that we can easily develop the SAS/Server solution.


Patrick Binder's picture

So how would you gentlemen like to proceed?

Well clearly we have to use both pwnat as well as a vpn,firewall,ssl and LAMP stack all combined into one server  base structure in order to support the necessary aritecure requirements? anything else that I am forgetting to include in the bas structure that we will have to use to build everything else off of?


Additional thoughts/requirements

As I emailed Patrick just now, I'd like to help if work starts on this one.

It seems to me that what the product should do first is work on some of the blind spots of these other products (that along with having full windows support).  Bomgar has no support for Android and I think the other two are only partial for android, webex and logmein both suffer from being SOS involving a third party in the connection process.  I think Bomgar may have an advantage over the others because it also logs all sessions (for financial and medical systems this is required.)

It does seem like what is needed mostly is the patience and skil to knit together all the Linux functionality already available to make a killer product.

I have been indecisively trying to pick out a product in this niche myself to buy and use for my lone-wolf tech support company, and its amazing how many companies are in it right now.  I would guess there are easily 30 different products available, especially if you include the shared desktop meeting types, and one-to-one "remote to my other desktop" products.  Most of them are horrendously expensive for someone like me ($750 to $1500/year avarage), yet watchagoingtodo?

I do see the smart-phone support market as a growth area, and one that nobody seems to cover 100% yet, and most of those 30 companies don't cover it at all.

See Wikipedia comparison of 60 products or so in  Comparison of remote desktop software

Jeremy's picture

I would love to see this happen

and am happy to be involved but I only have time and energy to be at the periphery. Also with the TKLPatch deadline fast approaching the likelihood of this project making the cut for the next appliance release is probably slim.

But don't let that put you off! Because of the TKLPatch system it is possible to create a patch that end users can apply themselves. It also means that the pressure is somewhat off (although perhaps not for you David if you are hoping to use it yourself). I suggest whoever is most motivated start posting some specs/plans and build a prototype patch from that.

I think this could be a very exciting project, looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

Patrick Binder's picture

I dont wish for this to fall by the wayside. Not in the Least.

I have every intention of figuring out how to figure out how to make this work. I think once the TKL Base system is 100% patched as far as stability and a proper Webmin console built for the base system that we can begin to use that I can use suse Linux Enterprise servers package for creating PXE boot system. The package also allows you to create a system back up in the Form of an ISO so once we get a working server we can package it back into a bootable installable ISO Linux System. but the thing is I have like NO programming knowledge aside from some html, and VB. So in order to accomplish this I would have to study my ass off. and I need you guys to reccommend some guys that know this stuff to help us with this project. I feel that creating this particular system could make a small fortune in supporting other people computers. And help every Technition world wide to make there work able to be done from anywhere in the world.I hate being tied to an office I want to get my IT company off the ground run all my charges through paypal and just jet set from here to there and having a remote support software that is tailored to work on all platforms, win, linux, unix, oracle, solaris, etc as well as all mobile OS's that we can create the most widely used remote software in the world. and provide ourselves the freedom to be able to expand our businesses globally by alllowing us to work from anywhere thus be able to travel worldwide and still do tech support while setting up companies around the world. sorry if I am getting a little repetitive its been an extremely long day and I am having trouble with creating virtual hosts on my joomla server that running on one of my SLES servers. But its my first attempt at ever running a second website from the server. maybe someone has some advice or a run through that I can go over of how to do the setup from webmin. as my webserver is a long ways away and I am on location and I need to be able to set up the server to do addtional virtual host by port number from the same domain/subdomain as the main site. I would prefer not to create a new domain name in order to set up the site. so maybe someone knows a good tutorial. also what theme does the TKL use for webmin does someone have a link I hate the default webmin thats on my sles box but I love the TKL theme.


Clarity

I just wanted to chime in and say that Bomgar does in fact support iOS and Android OS.  Some have special versions as well (Samsung comes to mind) that allow deeper access into the OS than others.  

I am going to comment below more things.

Patrick Binder's picture

Ok I have downloaded the new beta base system how do I proceed

Ok so I downloaded the 10.04 base system. How do I proceed from here to configure it to automatically install additional packages during installation? and where do I add the packages? in the pool?


Alon Swartz's picture

TKLPatch or prototype a virtual appliance

You have a couple of options, I'd recommend taking a look at the community development documentation.

open source remote access

Hey patrick, you might want to check out this open source remote access project. http://openvpn.se/ They seem to be in the latter stages of developing the type of remote desktop software that you are looking for. 

something akin to Adito / OpenVPN ALS

Has an appliance been considered that would mimic Adito (now known as OpenVPN ALS)?  It is a web-based, open source, SSL-VPN application.  Most of the development on it has gone by the wayside.

 

pstacks


Did this go anywhere

Yo my peeps did this happen n stuff

Jeremy's picture

Not yet.

No one has stepped up to the mark and started development. Perhaps it could be you?

How about this...

I just came across this and just like all of you, have been looking for this very alternative.

Here are some ideas and information that I wanted to share so people could look and possibly think of how to implement.

The first is that we right now use mostly a mix of VNC and a software called N-Central by this company:  http://www.n-able.com/  It goes beyond the scope of what is attempting to be done HOWEVER N-Central is a real nice piece and one that should be looked at by the open source communiity.  It uses a multi-layered approach to management.  First you have the main server (which theirs runs on Linux of some sort already) then when you configure you create "Sites" then deploy a Probe to that site.  Then it installs "Agents" on the machines.  Then when you remote manage a machine you can do lots on the machine without the user even knowing; running scripts viewing logs...  lots.  There are even options to run scripts remotely from the main server scheduled to multiple machines etc.   What it also does however is the "go to my PC" type stuff where you can hit the server address and you can get a remote help.  Which is logged by the support reps etc.  It's real awesome and also has management capabilities etc. that make it very much worth the $$ when you buy it.

The other thing I wanted to bring up is called iTALC (http://italc.sourceforge.net/home.php).  I haven't touched it in a year or so and mostly because of the complicated setup with how it handles which PCs can handle which PCs.  And you have to have the MAC addresses (does not just auto-grab them).  What is cool however is that it's made for a learning environment where you have Teacher PCs and Student PCs.  It allows you to see what is on the other PCs (whichever you want at the time etc.) you can also (because of the funky permissions) do things with the PC (block out controls, push your desktop to all of theirs, push one of theirs to all etc.).  I moved away from it because of the complicated setup but you can see where something like this could be VERY COOL!

Anyway I have zero coding experience and so I am limited as to what I know and can do but if you have further questions I can help in whatever way i can.

Jeremy's picture

iTALC looks interesting

But from a look over the N-Central website, it too looks good but does not apear to be open source, thus making it ineligible as a software candidate for a TKL appliance.

BTW I had little or no coding experience when I first started playing with TKL so this is great opportunity to get your hands dirty if you're keen :)

yea...

I know N-Central doesn't have any "open source" options it was more of an informational thing to see if anyone knew of anything open source like it etc.

I have been playing a lot with TKL and trying to learn but it's tough.  I don't know where to begin...  most things seem very alien when not coming from a *nix world and having 0 programming knowledge.

I have to blindly follow instructions posted on sites which don't always make sense.

For example...   I installed TKL 1.5 Joomla a long while ago and wanted to look into upgrading to 1.6 but don't know where to begin.

Jeremy's picture

Sorry that I misunderstood

Thank you for clarifying.

IMO it is probably worth having a bit of a read over the basics before you try too much. Here are some links I would suggest browsing:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UsingTheTerminal

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Beginners/BashScripting

And of course the Ubuntu Server Guide: https://help.ubuntu.com/10.04/serverguide/C/index.html

You may also find the Ubuntu Server FAQ useful: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ServerFaq

I think this thread may also be of value and contains lots more links and advice: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1420953

Obviously all those resources refer to Ubuntu, but as TKL v11.x is based on Ubuntu 10.04/Lucid then they will generally be relevant. The Ubuntu forums are pretty active and friendly so that is a great place to ask questions (as well as here obviously). Personally I find google to be the best Linux info resource! Often far better in my experience than finding Win info (above a basic level anyway)!

If you get stuck or there is something you just don't get, feel free to start a new thread here and ask! Then myself and/or one of our community members (and/or even a passing guest) will try to help you out.

Good luck.

Bash Resources may be helpful

I found digging around bash resources and on bash related IRC channels helped me get up to speed. I have some bash resources listed on the TKLPatch Primer at http://9while9.com.


Ric Moore's picture

re: Sorry I misunderstood

'The Ubuntu forums are pretty active and friendly so that is a great place to ask questions (as well as here obviously"

A bunch of us Ubuntu regular users/support contributors jumped ship after that "pretty active and friendly" Ubuntu Support list got moderated and we were tossed out, once we complained about the "lens" shopping "feature" allowing third parties access to our seach results without our permission fro our private desktops. Ergo, I wouldn't use Ubuntu if I had to be shot.

I wouldn't support Suse for the same reasons, after their parent company tried to sue Linux users. I sure as hell won't use Windows. So, I'm running Debian 100%  and am quite happy now. Just my two cents. Ric

 


Wow

I'm not sure how I missed this one. I hope I can contribute anything from my skillset that can be helpful.


I use RHUB remote support

I use RHUB remote support appliances and it doesn’t cost me a fortune. It is easy to use and is only one time cost as compared to hosted services.
 

ISL Online - a great alternative to LogMeIn

There is another alternative for all LogMeIn products which is called ISL Online.

With Remote Support to unlimited operators, Remote Access to unlimited computers, Live Chat for unlimited chats and agents, and Web Conference and Mobile Applications which are already included in a license.

You can check our product webpage at https://www.islonline.com/l/logmein-alternative/index.htm

Is this project still alive?

I would love a tool that would allow me to easily support a handful of family members and a couple of friends, most of whom have difficulty following telephone instructions to install and launch gotomypc, logmein, or gotoassist attended host apps. What I would like is to be able to install an unattended client on those few specific systems, which are scattered around the US, so I can provide support with nothing required of the end user other than to watch me work while we chat about what's happening in each other's life.

While I do support my semi-retirement with occassional for-pay pc & mobile device support (mostly malware mitigation and hardware upgrades), I have no plans to use remote support software as a tool for income in the future. Since all of my remote support is provided for free, I can ill afford even a couple hundred dollars a year for a software solution. I am not a coder, in even the most vague use of the term, so unfortunately I am unable to offer much assistance in bringing such a tool into fruition. However, I am willing to offer my services as a beta tester, should the need arise. (I own multiple computers, running Win 7 & 8 and Mac OSX, and three mobile droids, and enough spare hardware to piece together a couple of systems suitable for Linux installs. I am also comfortably family with various virtual pc applications. So I could test without ever putting anyone else's system at risk.)

I truly hope this project is still moving forward. IMHO this is exactly the type of scenario where opensource can really shine - offering a no-cost solution to those of us who just enjoy helping others, and not necessarily to make money.

Jeremy's picture

Unfortunately it pretty much stalled...

It would be a great addition to the lineup but unfortunately it stalled and no one else has picked it up... It's still on the radar though...

Wish this would have taken off...

I just tore open our old 'Bomgar' box as the case fan was making all types of noise.  Since I had it open, I figured I would clone the HDD in case it decides to croak soon.  Come to find out, it runs some form of Linux(Mandrake?)

 

Anyway, I started looking into building my own Remote Support box and hosting it here at my office, but alas I ended up here.  I am no programmer by any means so I cannot be of help, but I hope one day this thread becomes a reality!

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