April 24, 2019

Remote Desktop Between Ubuntu/Linux and Windows, Part I - page 3

Figuring Out What To Use

  • January 19, 2009
  • By Eric Geier

If you are using a Linux distro other than Ubuntu, search through its repositories for appropriate packages. Otherwise, you can download TightVNC directly from their website and follow the instructions to build and install it.

The TightVNC/RealVNC server doesn't have a GUI; you must use the command-line—don't fret, it's easy. Simply open Terminal, type vncserver, and hit Enter. The first time you run this, you'll be prompted to create a password for the VNC connections. Once you define your password, it will automatically configure a display or tunnel, such as shown in Figure 2. Multiple displays are supported in order to offer access for multiple users and/or to define varying attributes, such as screen resolution, startup commands, and more. Each time the vncserver command is run, it creates a new tunnel, typically starting with 1 and incrementing from there on.

Here are several vncserver options to keep in mind:

  • For help, use -help or enter man vncserver.

  • Using -name desiredname gives you the option of naming the particular tunnel or display, which is viewable in the title bar of VNC clients when remoting to the display.

  • Amending :# lets you manually define the tunnel or display number

  • Using -geometry WxH lets you set the desktop width and height.

  • Adding -depth # lets you set a color depth of 8 to 32 bits per pixel.

  • To close a VNC tunnel, use -kill :#, replacing the pound sign with the desired tunnel ID.

Depending upon your particular Linux distro and the VNC solution you have installed, you may or may not have a GUI for the client or viewer application. If you have one, feel free to use it; otherwise you can use the command-line.

For the GUI, you can usually set the options from a dialog box. When connecting to a Linux machine, type in the computer name or IP address of the remote machine (or the Internet IP when connecting through the web) followed by a colon and the display or tunnel ID, and then hit Enter. For instance, ericslinuxbox:1 or If connecting to Windows, don't include the colon and display number. To connect from the Terminal, type vncviewer and the same type of host info, such as shown in Figure 1 earlier.

Loading a VNC client/server onto Windows

TightVNC also offers a Windows version of their VNC client and server from their download page. After you install TightVNC, you can start the server by clicking the Launch TightVNC Server shortcut from the Start menu. The properties dialog (see Figure 3) will appear, where you should assign a password for incoming remote sessions. After reviewing the other settings, hit OK. The icon will appear in the system tray and the server is ready for remote connections. Again, don't use the colon and display number when connecting to a Windows PC, from any platform.

If you want to connect to a remote PC from Windows, click the TightVNC Viewer shortcut from the Start menu. Just like when connecting from other platforms, type in the name or IP address of the remote PC (or the Internet IP when connecting through the web), and when connecting to Linux boxes, include the colon and a display number.

Stay tuned for the next part: we'll secure the VNC connection and configure everything for connections over the Internet.

Eric Geier is an author of many computing and networking books, including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft Windows Vista (Que 2007).

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