VNC Mini-How-To


  1. Two or more networked computers
  2. VNC server and client installed on each machine


This is some of the easiest software I've ever installed. Dating back to RedHat6.2 with binaries downloaded from the original VNC project it has always worked. The only problems I've encountered have been relatively minor configuration details that affected the quality of the display.

VNC is included on the installation cd's of all major Linux distributions. These also have different tools for installing software. Using Mandrake10.0 I start the control center, this requires root access.

The obvious choice is "Software Management".

I choose "Install" and search for vnc. I then select "tightvnc-server" and click "Install".

This is the first time I've done this using Mandrake-Linux since around version 8.x and I'm surprised that there's no vnc client program on the Mandrake10.0 cd's.

I've since discovered that this tightvnc-server package includes the vncviewer. -mark

Server Startup

Now to start the server. First I read the man page for the vncserver. In the past I've found that if the server is set to the same screen resolution the client uses the resulting window is just too big. So I pass a couple of command line options to the server when I start it. I set the display geometry to 800x600, one step down from the default of 1024x768. Whatever resolution your system uses will be the default setting for the vncserver. I also set the color depth to 16 as this speeds up the connection. My system defaults to 24 bit color but this sends a lot of data over the connection. I find 16 bit color acceptable.

I'm prompted to set a password and do so. I'm prompted for another password, I chose yes and entered the same password. That might not have been a good idea, we'll see.

Now the server is running.

Client Startup

Now I'm working from my workstation machine running Debian3.1. First I read the vncviewer man page. Now we have several things to consider. We saw the server start up as tuna.ourhousenet:1. But my machine may not recognize that name so I'm going to use the IP address of tuna to be safe. Knowledge of one's local network is required here. I then start the vncviewer. I'm prompted for the password.

I enter the password and hit enter. Whup, there it is! My KDE desktop on tuna, running Mandrake-Linux10.0.

That image is a link. Click it to see the 1024x768 version. The desktop on my Debian workstation is XFCE4 using some theme meant to look like windersXP.


Maybe that's not the correct term for this but it's how I think of it.

Here I've logged into tuna and from tuna logged into lighthorse. Notice the network activity on the various gkrellm's on each system.

Links and Comments

VNC has been around ten years or so. It has some encryption build in but can be made more secure by tunneling the connection over ssh. That's another whole story. It's a handy tool to have around in a local network. It is also cross platform compatable, one can use it to access a winders desktop from Linux and visa versa.

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