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Using VNC

Introduction

UNIX/Linux applications with a graphical user interface require the use of special display software when connecting from a remote location. Two methods are currently supported: X-windows and VNC. See Using X-windows for information about X-windows.

VNC is a protocol and associated software that supports remote display on a variety of computer platforms. It is useful when certain applications fail to run properly under X-windows, or when a persistent connection to the remote display is required. You can disconnect from a VNC session and reconnect to it later as long as the terminal session used to start the VNC server application is still running.

The university maintains the necessary server application for use with Stanford FarmShare, but users must download and install a suitable client application; see below for recommendations. Because secure connections are required in the Stanford FarmShare environment, SSH must be used to encrypt the VNC connection. SSH does not have any special support for VNC so encryption must be accomplished manually using SSH port forwarding.

Before you begin

If you have never used VNC before you must set a VNC password before you start vncserver for the first time (see below). This password will control access to the display and will prevent a third-party from viewing or controlling your VNC session.

  1. Connect to any Stanford UNIX corn.
  2. Create a VNC application directory if one does not already exist:

    mkdir ~/.vnc
  3. Run the vncpasswd command to set a new password. This password is not very secure, so it should not be the same as your SUNet ID password (or other sensitive passwords).

Using VNC on Mac OS X

There are a number of freely available VNC clients for Mac OS X. Of these turbovnc is the best performing. Please follow the steps outlined in the wiki to download and create your session.

Using VNC on Windows

There are a number of freely available VNC clients for Windows, but SSVNC is recommended for most users. This client includes built-in support for SSH tunnelling of the VNC display, which streamlines the connection procedure. You must also have SecureCRT or another SSH client installed in order to establish a primary terminal session. Please follow the steps outlined in the wiki to download and create your session.

Using VNC on UNIX/Linux

Some distributions of Linux include a VNC client as part of the default desktop configuration, but others are freely available. Check the standard software repositories for your distribution to determine the options. If turbovnc is available then that would make a great choice. Please follow the steps outlined in the wiki to download and create your session.

Last modified May 13, 2014