A freeware telnet and FTP server that runs on any 32-bit Windows platform

A freeware telnet and FTP server that runs on any 32-bit Windows platform

June 5, 2002

For a shareware product, Fictional Daemon is a very impressive Telnet server. Although a Windows-only product, its configuration options are similar to Unix-based Telnet servers, and it offers a wide array of options to customize the permissions, such as the user being able to change his or her own password, and the capability to change directories or remotely execute and shut down or reboot systems, browse remote computers, set time and date, kill programs or processes, schedule commands, and change passwords or access remote system information. Like most Windows-based server applications (the server works on all 32-bit Windows platforms, including NT and 2000, and the 9x family), Fictional Daemon hides itself in the system tray next to the clock. It is color-coded, again, similar to most application. Red means the program is inactive; green means it's active.

Because Fictional Daemon is in the same vein as Unix-like server packages, it's lacking in the GUI setup to which most administrators and home users are now very accustomed. Most of the truly powerful options lay in a command-line/Telnet interface, so the lack of a GUI is a love-hate thing: It reduces the memory footprint but gives home users a befuddled feeling when trying to use this software.

Fictional Daemon also doubles as an FTP server. Having a product combined like this is very nice, not to mention convenient. Via the Telnet interface, an administrator can remotely configure the FTP server from any machine that has a Telnet client. However, Fictional Daemon is by no means an exceptional FTP server, and the fact that it doubles as one should be viewed as an added bonus when considering the product. The majority of development was obviously put into Fictional Daemon's Telnet side, as it is more advanced and much more configurable.

Fictional Daemon's memory footprint is outstanding. On a Windows 2000 machine, it is only 2,800 KB, compared to 3,500 KB for FTP Serv-U, the almost 5,000 KB taken up by Windows 2000 Telnet Server, and the ungodly amount of memory other Microsoft servers take up. Having that small of a memory footprint for two servers in one is even more outstanding. By using Fictional Daemon, an administrator can reduce the memory footprint of server applications from about 7 MB to almost 2.2 MB.

Many of the features from versions 3.x have stayed with Fictional Daemon and are still with it in v4.1. Key attributes include audible alerts, logging, and remote management. For more details about these features, see our original review of v3.1.

One major improvement in v4.1 is Fictional Daemon's documentation. Instead of providing help only for more advanced issues, it now provides simple tutorials as well as even more complex ones than in the past. However, although the documentation has been redone and worked over, it's still not up to par with most servers of its class.

Fictional Daemon is free for single and home use. It requires a $30-per-server license for commercial use, with less-expensive options ( when evaluated from a per-license basis) for a single site ($270) and an entire enterprise ($2,000). Depending on the number of servers being used, one of these special licenses could work out to be very inexpensive. Fictional Daemon also supports up to 50 concurrent users.

On some computers, installing Fictional Daemon may be a daunting task. Aside from simply downloading and running the setup.exe file, some administrators may be faced with downloading a few Visual Basic Run Time Libraries. Thankfully, Fictional Daemon includes them on its downloads page.

Pros: Free for non-commercial use, Small memory footprint, Free for home use; Powerful; Both an FTP and a Telnet server
Cons: One gets what one pays for; Help files are lacking; FTP functionality is weak; lack of an easy-to-use GUI
New in v4.2: Passive FTP fix; Internet Explorer 5 directory list fix; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 1

New in v4.3: Passive FTP fix; NO_CMD needed fix; fixed command string caption problem; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

Version Reviewed: 4.1
Date of Review: 2/15/01
Reviewed by: M.A. Dockter
Last Updated: 3/25/02

Click here for a Complete Review of Fictional Daemon v3.1