Pick a Free OS

User login


Remote desktop using VNC

The concept of a remote desktop is very common among Unix networks. The design of the X server allows you to sit at one machine and work on another and access the entire range of GUI applications. The trouble, however, with the X-terminal setup is the high bandwidth connection that is required, restricting their usage to a local network. In contrast, VNC (Virtual Network Computing) offers the same functionality but will work over low-bandwidth connections too. VNC will even work over the Internet.

Several platforms and architectures are supported. Servers and clients are available for Linux, Windows, Solaris, Macintosh and even Windows CE. These are all available under the GPL. You can even use a browser that supports Java to connect to the remote desktop!


You will find clients and servers for all the available platforms at http://www.uk.research.att.com/vnc/download.html. Also check the available documentation at http://www.uk.research.att.com/vnc/docs.html. Perl should be installed on your system.


Installation of the Windows version is as difficult as the unpacking the archive and clicking on setup.exe. The Linux install is just as easy. We'll be working with the Linux version here.

We are using VNC 3.3.3r2 here. The archive is vnc-3.3.3r2_x86_linux_2.0.tgz. Unpack this archive somewhere (/tmp). Enter the directory vnc_x86_linux_2.0 that is created. Copy the files vncviewer, vncserver, vncpasswd and Xvnc to a directory accessible by non-privileged users too. You don't have to be root to start a server and you definitely shouldn't start one as root. Anyone connecting to a server started as root will also have root privileges.

cp vncviewer vncserver vncpasswd Xvnc /usr/local/bin

There is also a Java viewer that allows you to connect to the VNC server using any Java-capable browser.

mkdir -p /usr/local/vnc/classes

cp classes/* /usr/local/vnc/classes


That was the installation. Before you start VNC though, some configuration changes are to be made.

Open the file vncserver. This is a perl script and the first line of this script might have to be modified. #!/usr/bin/perl is the default path set. Do a "which perl" to check where perl is installed.

To start a VNC server simply run the script vncserver. Unless there are problems, you will see the following.

New 'X' desktop is vncserv:1

Starting applications specified in /home/freeos/.vnc/xstartup