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VNC, No Longer Orphaned 205

geogeek6_7 writes "Icronic informs us of a couple new developments to everyone's favorite piece of remote-managment software, VNC. You may remember that the UK Lab responsible for the creation and maintainence of VNC closed. A company called RealVNC has been formed, sporting the original coders from the AT&T lab, and aiming to 'act as the focal point for open source VNC.' Secondly, the new company has released version 3.3.4 of VNC for Windows and Linux. Greater security and a new, speed-enhancing auto-encoding feature are included among many others in the new version."
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VNC, No Longer Orphaned

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  • by CommandNotFound ( 571326 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @12:34AM (#4348715)
    Seems like they could make a decent living by selling an enhanced, secured version and then have the "last version" free as in beer & speech to help spread the product. Similar to how Aladdin has done with Ghostscript.
    • GPL (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Unless i am mightily mistaken: in a word, no. VNC is released under the terms of the GPL. This means that unless this new company owns ALL of the copyright to ALL of the code in VNC, which would mean they could relicense it-- which seems unlikely-- either an Aladdin-style or MysqlAB-style profit model is kind of out of the question.

      If they link against GPLed code that they do not own the copyright to, and they distribute the result, they must put the resulting product under the GPL, it must be free as in speech, and the people they sell it to can redistribute it freely.

      Correct me if i am wrong.
      • Which makes me wonder why no one has flagged TridiaVNC for a GPL violation....
        • Because, according to the TridiaVNC web page:

          TridiaVNC is open source and freely distributed under the GNU General Public License. You are free to install, customize, integrate, and enhance TridiaVNC to meet your specific needs.
    • There's already a company doing this: TridiaVNC []
  • Recently (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Apreche ( 239272 )
    I reformatted my hard drive and re-installed my OSes. Mandrake 9 is cool, but it doesn't come with pine! Anyway I went to re-download my apps and found that a new version of VNC came out days ago. I don't know if they formed a new company called realvnc because the web site is still at bell labs. I think they just changed the name of the program. The most welcome new feature is that you don't lose your wallpaper if you don't want to. Not to mention it is faster and better in every way. If you use VNC, get the new one. I must say that the icons for VNC are now uglier than they used to be, anyone got the old one?
  • This is awesome! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by seann ( 307009 ) <> on Saturday September 28, 2002 @12:35AM (#4348718) Homepage Journal
    I love vnc, with a passion. I also love Tightvnc [], and all its varients. VNC is the one thing that makes me feel safe when I leave my computer because I know it's a broadband connection away.

    Even at work!
    • Speaking of tightvnc, is there any plans to merge it back into the main branch of vnc now that it's back in development?

      Now-a-days, I only use tightvnc, even when I'm mainly using high-speed to high-speed (or lan) connection. However, it'd be nice to have new features and bug fixes from the main vnc distribution.
      • This is a very good question.

        I actually just discovered VNC yesterday, after getting frustrated spending two months wasting my time with PCAnywhere.

        Then I spent most of friday playing around with VNC, and I was quite impressed. I was glad to get full color and about two times the speed of what I was getting in 4 colors on PCAnywhere.

        Then near the end of the day, I came across TightVNC. I tried it with maximum compression, and it flew! It was much faster than VNC, and an order of magnitude more useful than PCAnywhere.

        I almost stayed late playing with it.

        Sure there is nasty jpeg compression when I was really taxing it, but at least I could get my work done. I was impressed though at the compression; when I would drag a window across the screen, it only needed to update what was in the trail of where I was dragging it from. I guess this must be some kind of motion estimation like MPEG?

        I'm actually almost eager to get back into work on monday to mess around with it somemore (I've only one computer at home, and it would be pointless to loopback connect). =)

    • "VNC is the one thing that makes me feel safe when I leave my computer because I know it's a broadband connection away."

      Perhaps you're worshipping the wrong Linus [] here...

    • by EvilAlien ( 133134 )
      ... a broadband connection away from the bad people sharing that network with you. I hope you have strong passwords and some sort of ACL or firewall in between your VNC box and the world.

      VNC is a dangerous toy without security [], whether that be via SSH [] or tunnelling plus a firewall [].

  • by LordOfYourPants ( 145342 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @12:35AM (#4348721)
    I wonder how long VNC will be in general interest once people begin attempting to emulate RDC (remote desktop connection(s)) both from a server and client perspective in X and pre-win XP OSes.

    Seeing as how it now comes with Win XP Pro the general consensus will be that RDC is the new "standard" to be emulated by everyone else.
    • Doesn't touch VNC (Score:3, Interesting)

      When you run Remote Desktop Connection the user is locked out of their screen, you can only export to one computer, and it's security is not what I would call "trustworthy".

      VNC kicks the hell out of RDC in WinXP (and I use both at work).
      • The only thing better about RDC than VNC is app level sharing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there is any way to do it with VNC (yet).
      • Your using the wrong tool, you should be using Remote Assitance not Remote Desktop. RDC is designed specifically for single use only. If you want to work with someone you should be using Remote Assistance.

        The RDP protocol or Windows terminal service is also plently secure so I don't know what's not "trustworthy" about it. Lastly its a hell of a lot faster then any version of VNC over modem, lan whatever Period. Its just no contest.

        Don't get me wrong I like and use VNC and when using linux or any other non-MS OS its what I use, but for a windows network, Terminal services or Remote Assitance etc is where its at.
    • Oops, something went wacky there. Here's the correected version...

      The name of the protocl is RDP, Remote Desktop Protocol. There's already an RDP client for Linux [] if you need it that works great with Windows 200 terminal services.

      However, Citrix ICA is still years ahead of RDP in terms of bandwidth utilization and flexibility. Furthermore, there's also an compression tool that apparently matches Citrix in terms of bandwidth utilization [], although its still in beta. RDP is good, but its certainly not the best.
    • don't be ridiculous (Score:4, Interesting)

      by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @04:09AM (#4349258)
      Seeing as how it now comes with Win XP Pro the general consensus will be that RDC is the new "standard" to be emulated by everyone else.

      RDC/RDP isn't a standard: as usual, Microsoft took a bunch of ITU standards and hacked them up to make them incompatible with everything else.

      Nor is there much to emulate. Microsoft's RDP isn't even in the same league with X11 in terms of functionality or performance over LANs. For dial-up connections, there are also good X11 protocol compression solutions. VNC outperforms RDP greatly in another area: it's a very simple, well-documented, open protocol that is easy to implement and works pretty much everywhere. There are VNC servers for 8bit machines, even. Furthermore, X11 and VNC clients and servers are available for Windows, Macintosh, and UNIX, so you can already talk from any platform to any other platform with the open protocols.

      People will be able to interoperate with Microsoft RDP via projects like RDesktop--as long as Microsoft lets them and on those odd days when they ship it (Windows XP Home doesn't come with it). Building anything else on top of RDP is like building on quicksand since the world can shift from under you whenever Ballmer feels like it. If Microsoft wanted you to use RDP for anything else, they would have picked an open standard.

  • by GroundBounce ( 20126 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @12:38AM (#4348737)
    For comparison, also check out TightVNC []. TightVNC makes a remote graphical desktop quite usable over DSL speeds.

    It sounds like the main VNC branch has now added a tight-like encoding (ZRLE) which may obviate the need for TightVNC, but TightVNC has some additional niceties like automatic tunneling over SSH.
    • TightVNC also has a nice feature of allowing multiple VNC remote logins. One can set up a vncserver and use vncviewer on several remote and local computers, where AT&T VNC locks out the last user's session.
      • Actually, the original VNC allowed this too, but it wasn't enabled by default. If you used the -shared option to vncviewer, then it would allow additional connections to the same server.

        TightVNC turns this on by default, so users don't have to know about the option.
    • TightVNC makes a remote graphical desktop quite usable over DSL speeds.

      At 16KiloBytes per second, TightVNC is a pain in the ass to use for Windows.

      At 32KiloBytes per second TightVNC is STILL a pain in the ass to use for Windows.

      Rather irritating.

      (not that Netmeeting is much better, bleh!)
      • You're DS sucks, man. My Mindspring connection holds 80 K/sec almost all the time. Even my old 412K service would deliver 40-50K per second constantly. 16 K/sec is about 160 kbps, just barely faster than ISDN. What ISP do you use, so we can all avoid it?
      • My DSL connection is arount 100KBytes/s. At this rate, TightVNC is obviously noticably slower than a local connection, but it's fast enough that you can use it without feeling like throwing a rock at the monitor.

        16KB/s or 32Kb/s would be noticably slower, but there are some things you can to that can help, even with TightVNC's tight encoding:

        1. Don't use a complicated desktop background. All versions of VNC (including Tight) send low-level bitmap information, not high-level window information. The more complicated your background, the less it compresses, and the slower the repaints.

        2. Have as few windows open as possible so your desktop is uncluttered - same reason as 1.

        3. Use the lowest color depth you can stand for your particular application. If you're doing word processing, you can probably get away with 8bpp and it will be faster than 16 or 24.

        4. When scrolling in a document, use the page-up and page-down keys (or page-up and page-down areas of the scroll bar) instead of the scroll slider. This results in fewer repaints, and any sluggishness is less annoying.

      • Maybe Windows is just a pain to use :-)

        Seriously, it's usable even at ISDN speeds with X11. On Windows, you get iffy performance even on fast lines unless you install the VNC video driver hooks--without them, VNC has to guess at where updates are happening, and that takes a while. Sorry, but Microsoft doesn't have an open API for this sort of thing, otherwise VNC would be using it.

  • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @12:41AM (#4348744) Homepage Journal
    We were looking to do demos for our software (web based) and wanted to be able to do something like webex (I'd link but their website is down! guess I'm glad I didn't pick them!).

    For 1 demo using their system to 15 clients it was going to run between $800-$1200 for 1 to 1.5 hours. I told my boss we could test a solution for free on my box (dual boot Linux/win2000) and if it worked it would be $1200 one time. I demoed to our higher ups and we have a salesman that is using it 2-3 times a day and since our corporate office has conference phone systems already they are free (already a paid service, so why pay twice?).

    In the end we spend $800 on the hardware $320 on VMWare $0 on VNC/xfrbserver (spelling?) to export to multiple hosts, and we have an MSDN subscription so I run Win98 in VMWare so the person demoing feels at home (even though it would have worked in Linux w/Netscape the sales people and clients are more comfortable in Windows).

    At first they found it a little confusing. But now it's all the rave and I just bring it up remotely (or from the office) and keep an eye on it to make sure they dont accidentally close the exporting server (xf0bserver?), you'd be surprised how many times they kill their own demo!!!! lol...

    Anyway since it was so successful I'm implementing a solution to automate offsite backups using sftp/ssh and encrypting our backups daily.

    I hope for their sake they never make the mistake of firing me b/c noone else could even tell you what ls does!!! lol.... ensuring job security by doing a good job, saving money, and implementing solutions they dont understand.
    • VNC is widely used in our company. It is a great alternative to a dual boot or or devoted Linux machine. Some people just arent up to speed with using the Linux operating system as their main environment. They use VNC on Windows to most of their development and use Windows for everyday applications such as Visio, Office, IE, Outlook,etc. (Ironically, all MS products..)

      Its also a huge benefit for the sys admin so he doesnt have to waste time configuring each PC to meet the exact testing standards. We can just run a VNC client on Windows and have a Linux environment. No extra installment or configuration time.

      VNC is a vital cost and time saver in our company.
    • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @02:22AM (#4349053)
      I had a similar experience with VNC. It was more a matter of showing that OSS software was somehow 'worthy' though. First on the scene at work was VNC when I mentioned it to our former net admin and he started using it. Then I wrote a webapp using OSS tools (and made sure my manager, the net admin, God and everyone else knew it), and it was a highly visible and smooth rollout. Finally, all the recent MS security issues finally made our net admin cave and he decided last week to replace our MS proxy, with IIS next on the block. Now it cascades from there, since the app I wrote is on a server by itself and is going to be switched to Linux as well. And I'm also finally in a position to use Linux as my desktop OS.

      To the VNC devs who helped kick it all off for me, thank you!

    • "I hope for their sake they never make the mistake of firing me b/c noone else could even tell you what ls does!!!"

      These kinds of things and people like you is exactly why so many companies are reluctant to switch to Linux. Sure, in your case, your company saved a little money but what happens if you have an accident or leave the company? They have no idea how their own system works and will be completely screwed. This is not the kind of situation companies want to be in. That's why companies would rather stick around with "comfortable and familiar" Windows solutions, even if it crashes every once in a while or has a hundred security bugs that need to be patched every year. In the long run, it's still a smaller risk for the company than relying on some geek who finds it funny (your "lol") that the company is completely dependent on you.
      • Methinks you're missing what's going on there. If BoomerSooner has an accident or leaves the company, somebody will learn ls and a few other things. It's not *that* hard. In the meantime, it's much more productive to let BoomerSooner understand *how* it works and play hero while everybody else is helping to define the battles for him to win. Very quickly they exceed the scope where Microsoft Windows has "solutions".
        • on how to do everything on the computers we use them for, with the exception of reinstallation and configuration because that is why you buy a 550lbs book by sams, o'reilly or another book publisher.

          In the end we did vnc for $1200 instead of terminal server for around $12000 for hardware & software. If I leave/get hurt there is a $11000 dollar incentive for someone to pick up a book. AND our network company we use is heavy into unix/linux so we already outsource 80% of the networking stuff to them, so they could simply outsource anything that needed to be done on the linux servers without too much difficulty.

          I still put the company first because, it saved a ton of cash, it is the best solution, and I have demonstrated to the other developers how to use it. If they dont want to take the time that isn't my fault/problem.
  • Excellent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digidave ( 259925 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @12:45AM (#4348755)
    Now I have newer version of the remote app that our firewall administrator won't let through.

    AskSlashdot (always a good idea at 12:30am):

    Is VNC secure enough to run on a couple of high-traffic, high-exposure web servers? Man, would I ever catch hell if I talked the firewall admin into setting the VNC port open, then we get hacked through it. My company tends to trust commercial solutions like the really flakey Altiris CarbonCopy (formerly Compaq CarbonCopy). Any experience with security bugs?
    • I usually access VNC tunneled through ssh with compression turned on. This gives me the security of only having one port open on the router and with ssh, I can use port forwarding to access any services behind the firewall. Thus, VNC is just as secure as my ssh session. VNC communication is unencrypted and useful on a local, trusted network all alone, but not over the internet.

      • Is this possible through a windows box?

        The only thing Ive ever done tunneling with is IPSec (Freeswan in Linux, SSH Sent in Windows) and then can quickly and easily access any VNC box in the network

        I leave my VNC port open and change the password periodically
        • Yes! (Score:3, Informative)

          by LinuxGeek ( 6139 )
          It is quite possible from a windows box, I use WinXP quite often and half of my work is done through a secure connection to my Linux boxes.

          Putty [] is a great windows ssh client that is free to boot. It supports compression and port forwarding ( relaying too).

          When configuring a new connection under putty, check the 'Connection->SSH-Tunnels' panel and check X11 forwarding, and add a local forwarding of say 5903 and destination as something like networkbox:5903. Then click Add and it will display like 'L5903 networkbox:5903'. Rember to save the session with a name and you will be set.

          Rember though that the ip or system name will be relative to the box you have the ssh connection into. Packets will arive at the end of the tunnel and then be routed to the destination machine and port specified. In the above example, once connected to the remote machine, you will then be able to fire up vncviewer and connect to localhost:3 and have your connection attempt forwarded through the tunnel and on to the destination machine. Of course you will need to have vnc running as session 3 for this example to work without modification. Good luck.
      • I learn something new every day, which isn't hard when you're starting from scratch. This is why nobody lets me administer anything and why I don't want to administer anything. Of course, I spend half my day administering our servers. Go figure.
    • ssh tunnel (Score:5, Informative)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @01:07AM (#4348844)
      I tunnel vnc through multiple firewalls all the time (over DSL);both direction run through a single port so it's actually easier than tunneling X windows. not to mention more secure than xhosts. And in my experience if you use the right client is WAY more robust and faster than remote x-windows. especially for real-time mouse actions (use a bad client and it stinks, so shop around).

      some tips: generally you are better off NOT enabling ssh compression as VNC's compression works better. Supposedly tightVNC is the best for narrow pipes. But on fat pipes in actually is better not to compress. if you are worried about security do two things. first always turn off the http port (on by default at 580x). Second, for extra security only allow connections to/from loopback Then use ssh to send it where you want. Finally, note that VNC itself is not encoded so the ONLY protection you are getting is the SSH encoding. If you dont tunnel all the way you are exposed. However since it is graphics info and not plain ascii, it takes a clever hacker to actually decode what you are sending in the clear.

      • However since it is graphics info and not plain ascii, it takes a clever hacker to actually decode what you are sending in the clear.

        Provided that you define clever hacker as someone who can't read the VNC protocol docs. If you're sniffing the packets off the wire, it's not that hard to hack a VNC client that decodes the protocol and displays the screens.

        It's not even that hard to harvest keystrokes, since those are sent to the server unencrypted. Use ssh tunneling for VNC whenever possible. When not possible, seriously consider not using it at all.

    • Is VNC secure enough to run on a couple of high-traffic, high-exposure web servers?

      If you need to ask, it probably isn't, for you.

      The correct way to use VNC on any machine where security matters the least bit is to allow only local connections to it (-localhost flag) and use an ssh or stunnel connection to connect to it (both work on Windows, MacOSX, Linux, and UNIX).

      Another approach is to have the VNC server make an outgoing connection to a known host and to use the vncviewer with the "-listen" flag. That lets you use a VNC server even if it's behind a firewall.

  • I think im going to start developing OpenVNC.... .....what are you talking about? There is already RealVNC and TightVNC?

  • *grumble* *grumble* All I have is a really old copy of visual age, like forr 2.x. Someone HAS to write it, I can't afford a decent KVM.
    • Mine shits out constantly. Maybe I need to buy the power supply instead of using ps/2 to draw power. It would have been nice for them to just include the adapter, I would have paid extra to get a damn KVM that doesn't chirp every other minute I'm typing, and make me wait 3-5 seconds before continuing typing.
      • All my machines are networked. Shouldn't be any need.

        Though, I guess if I weren't so damn lazy, I'd figure out a way to write my own server. The Presentation Manager API can't be so hard to write hand-assembled pentium machine language for, should it? I'll break out the hex editor this minute!

        Damn I'm bored.
  • But this VNC solution is really solid in a mixed Windows, Novell, and MAC OS X enviornment. It can save some real dollars and it helps in large networks that are understaffed. Just a FYI, you should look into it.

    No, I do not work for them - but rather an evil empire [] that clears 9 billion a year worldwide.

  • There is a known method of password cracking for version VNC 3.3.2 which is vulnerable to dictionay and brute force attacks.
    • by Istealmymusic ( 573079 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @01:02AM (#4348820) Homepage Journal
      Reference: VNC authentication weakness [], Bugtraq 07/24/2002. In summary:

      VNC uses a DES-encrypted challenge-response system to avoid passing passwords over the wire in plaintext.

      However, it seems that a weakness in the way the challenge is generated by some servers would make this useless.

      The following program attempts to repeatedly connect to a vnc server and prints the challenge string.

      Against tightvnc-1.2.1_unixsrc, you'll see output like

      • $ python somehost:1
      • 4b24fbab355452b55729d630fcf73d43
      • b3acdf3fab422b7aa49b8d786f93def3
      • b3acdf3fab422b7aa49b8d786f93def3
      • b3acdf3fab422b7aa49b8d786f93def3
      • b3acdf3fab422b7aa49b8d786f93def3
      • 88e37f1677c4e4f56eb2fa00a2804ded
      • 88e37f1677c4e4f56eb2fa00a2804ded
      • 88e37f1677c4e4f56eb2fa00a2804ded
      • 88e37f1677c4e4f56eb2fa00a2804ded

      [...] each time the same string is printed twice in a row the server has repeated a challenge.

      WinVNC version 3.3.3R9 will display output more like

      • $ python otherhost:0
      • Server declined connection
      • Server declined connection
      • 91ff701f7dce8c6eebbc6062ffebcc6a
      • Server declined connection
      • Server declined connection
      • [...]
      It appears that connects are rate-limited, even if the connects come from two distinct machines. This appears to foil the below attack on VNC authentication. (Whether this means there is a good DoS opportunity against WinVNC is a separate question)

      If your server will give the same challenge repeatedly, and you can sniff somebody else's challenge and response, it appears that you could authenticate without knowing the password simply by connecting within the 1-second window to get the same challenge, and then send the same response as the legitimate client.

  • There seems to be only one server for OS X aqua and thats osx vnc. unfortunately is defunct. You can find a few orphan mirrors here and there. But what i'd really like to know is how to configure a new vncserver, like tightVNC or this realVNC to use the aqua desktop.

    There's plenty of servers for Xfree86 on osX, so that's not what I'm asking about. My guess is that the only difference is basically what window/desktop manager starts under the VNC server. But i've hunted and I cant figure out where the window manager starts in Darwin or in osxVNC server.

    does anyone know where this is and how to rig a new vncserver to use the aqua desktop?

    • Re:OSX VNC (Score:2, Informative)

      by fidget42 ( 538823 )
      The current maintainer for OSXVNC has a web page here [].
  • for VNC would be rootless window display. I know it works by basically intercepting the desktop visual signal and sending it elsewhere, but wouldn't it be possible to just do that with applications? I suppose it's quite possible that this wouldn't work (thank you, Microsoft) but if it were workable it would limit bandwidth usage, at least. Anyone know the details of this problem?

    Of course, that wouldn't let us do our favorite trick - freaking people out when they see a computer doing work by itself! More people know about it now, of course, but if you can find someone who doesn't know, and don't warn them ahead of time, the reactions can be quite interesting. :-)
    • just look around. For example VNCThing for mac. You can even have is trap the control/command keys. When you uses it, it's eerie cause you can forget which machine you are on. Even the screen saver will pop-on
      • By rootless he means connecting to a remote 'window" rather than a display (i.e., so you can run a session which just displays a remote Word document, rather than the entire desktop).

        This crops up periodically on the vnc list, but it doesn't look like there's an easy way to implement it (at least for Windows, and certainly for the Mac where applications tend not to live inside a single window - not to mention the menu bar). There's no support in the current VNC protocol for resizing the remote framebuffer without re-establishing the connection, so just resizing a window would also mean dropping the connection and reconnecting.

        What VNCThing [] has (I'm the author :-) is a full screen mode, where it hides your local windows/menubar and displays the remote desktop full screen (as if you had a monitor switch rigged up).

        -dair (note this is a bit buggy in the current release, but an update is on its way)
    • Would per-window VNC really make it go faster? (which is what I am guessing your reason for limiting bandwidth is :) ) The time for the initial screen to come up would be less, but after that its no different unless you get bored and start dragging windows around the screen.

      I can't think of any reason why it would not be possible for this though, VNCserver should be able to work out where the window you want is and how big it is pretty easily, and then just grab and send you that area - that sounds more like a last resort idea though :)
  • by Repugnant_Shit ( 263651 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @01:03AM (#4348825)
    I've tried out VNC before, but I thought it was slower than Windows Terminal Services client/RDP. Now that I've been using Linux I like using X11 over SSH while I'm at work/school. Has the new version made VNC faster? I have one last Windows box that would be nice to administer remotely.

    (The fastest, to me, was RDP)
    • RDP and X11 will always be faster than VNC, simply because they do not send bitmaps. They transmit API calls, which are much smaller, but come at the price of being tied to an architecture/subset of the functionality.

      VNC on the other hand does not care -- it will send everything as a bitmap, compressed of course.

      So RDP/X11 will be faster, but you will not be able to administer cross platform, unless either linux gets an RDP client, or windows runs X11 architecture for everything.
      • I don't see how this can be true, as rdesktop (RDP client) works happily on Linux and MacOS X, neither of which implement any of the Win32 API.

        So RDP must be bitmap-based, at least to a large degree. rdesktop runs just as fast, if not faster than the windows RDP clients.

        VNC and X are slow by comparison to RDP, though X-to-X TightVNC runs at a comparable speed.

        I don't really see why this is the case, and would be interested to know how RDP manages to outperform VNC so obviously.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          It does not matter if it implements or not Win32 API.
          The API that he is referring to is the RDP API or protocol.

          Rdesktop implements the RDP API and renders the screen. See rdesktop info on the protocol.

          However being that the RDP protocol is apparently not documented (propietary?), it is easier for VNC to transfer the screen and have their own protocol.

          When you say "So RDP must be bitmap-based", it is almost like saying that when using a web browser, you get screen shots, knowing the protocol, the client implements the rendering of the pages or screens.


      • unless either linux gets an RDP client

        Like this one? []
      • VNC doesn't just send "bitmaps" - VNC has a LOT of nice compression tricks that greatly reduce bandwidth.

        Overall, I've found that VNC is almost universally faster than a remote X11 connection except in a few rare cases. I've tried remote X11, it's painful and laggy (xterm took 20-30 seconds to pop up a window last time I tried it) even over a 10 Mbit connection, but TightVNC (Not classic VNC, Tight seems to have some nice cursor anti-lag features) is silky smooth in the same situations.
    • I really like VNC and rely on it heavily but, it does have issues.

      While security is not great, I don't see this as a major problem. It is simple enough to tunnel a VNC session which provides more than adequate security. This, however, does increase the bandwidth requirement.

      Which brings us to the biggest problem, in my mind, with VNC. It still requires far too much bandwidth. Even TightVNC is still a bandwidth hog.

      You mention RDP and X11 in your post. X11 is the absolute worst for bandwidth. Running something as simple as XMMS via X11 consumes up to 11Mbps. That's outrageous!!! RDP is far better than X11 but, it's bandwidth requirements are akin to VNC. RDP frequently consumes between 70Kbps and 200Kbps. Sure, it will work over a 14,400 connection but, given the extra bandwidth, both VNC and RDP will eat it up and on low speed connections it is very slow. In these low bandwidth situations it is even worse than PCAnywhere.

      By far, the best protocol that I have seen for remote sessions is Citrix ICA protocol. Provided the bandwidth is available, this protocol will use up to 150Kbps bursts for very high resolution and color depths but, on average ICA uses between 20 and 40Kbps. With tuning such as lower color depth and resolutions and disabling animation ICA will work remarkably well even over a 14,400bps connection.

      The difference in performance between ICA and any of the other protocols is phenomenal. High color, high resolution and high performance, plus it supports high security too. ICA has a similar effect on people that broadband does. Meaning that once a dial-up user has used broadband for a little while they cannot stand to use dial-up again, it's just too frustrating. A similar experience occurs when comparing ICA with any of the other protocols. The balzing speed and quality of the ICA session makes you very frustrated when you go to use VNC or the other worse protocols.

      Unfortunately, Citrix ICA is proprietary and expensive. While it can be served from both Windows and Unix platforms it is primarily found in Windows environments. It is my hope that the VNC team will be able to come up with something similar to the ICA protocol. That would be awesome!
    • TightVNC is faster than VNC and can actually beat X11 in some environments if carefully set up.

      In order to get good VNC performance with Windows, you need to install the video hook; it's usually not a bandwidth issue.

  • Win2K terminal services like performance.
    and the ability to function without the need for a video card.

    I have used TightVNC (the enchanced VNC). It has very nice features.
    Even at the best compressions its performance pales in comparison to that offered by Win2K Termianl services and XP's Remote Desktop feature.
    • Win2K terminal services like performance.

      Have you installed the VNC video driver hooks?

      and the ability to function without the need for a video card.

      Yes, right after Microsoft makes Windows open source--that's necessary to do that.

      Even at the best compressions its performance pales in comparison to that offered by Win2K Termianl services and XP's Remote Desktop feature

      Well, first, you haven't installed it for optimal performance. Second, Windows is closed source, and it's pretty much impossible for anybody to beat Microsoft at hooking into their operating system.

      Besides, why should open source programmers bother?

  • by e40 ( 448424 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @01:26AM (#4348898) Journal
    I use the client and server on win2k boxes, and the new version is noticeably faster. I definitely recommend an upgrade for anyone using the older version on windows.
  • by rosewood ( 99925 ) < minus painter> on Saturday September 28, 2002 @01:58AM (#4348992) Homepage Journal
    I have been using VNC long before I started using linux. As soon as I started the Linux environment, I used VNC for remote access.

    Question: Is there a way to use VNC (or other) to access the main X session (I guess tty0 in rh 7.3) and share it similar to how it is shared in windows?

    While I speak of remote access, maybe someone can tell me why when I am @ an ssh shell, my path etc is never set.

    Everyone has mentioned tightvnc, so I dont think thats needed but I will say that I found it really interesting when Farmers Insurance rolled out all the Dells to agents across the country, VNC was installed and running on every box.
    • Question: Is there a way to use VNC (or other) to access the main X session (I guess tty0 in rh 7.3) and share it similar to how it is shared in windows?

      I believe this is in their FAQ. The answer is yes, kindof. You can run the vncserver with the same .Xsession file as your regular X server, and then run a framebuffer VNC client instead of an X server. You can turn off all the compression, and then it shouldn't be a performance hit at all. I don't know if OpenGL stuff would work.
    • by sb ( 18459 )
      x0rfbserver []. Run it in your main X session and it will make it remotely accessible by other RFB clients (such as xrfbviewer and vncclient). Oh, and you want version >= 0.6.1 (google for rfb-0.6.1.tar.gz if necessary)
    • Try xrfb (X11) or krfb (easy-to-use setup for KDE3) ... VNC servers that forward the input/screen to/from a real X server.
    • You can use this software:

      However, keep in mind that it's not very efficient: for Xvnc, the server is fully instrumented and can send minimal updates. For x0rfbserver, it has to guess for updates. So, it's nice when you need it, but Xvnc is usually a better choice.

      If you do this a lot, you are much better off just starting an Xvnc server and using it wherever you happen to be, even if that is on the local machine.

  • by havaloc ( 50551 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @02:02AM (#4348997) Homepage
    If you use VNC, they are accepting donations at [].
  • The site is in fact Icrontic. They just registered the Icronic name since its commonly misspelled. :)

    Hopefully their new server will survive the slashdot effect part III. :/
  • I've been running VNC on Windows for quite some time and the built-in JAVA client is great for accessing from remote locations where I might not have a viewer.

    That said, I've also paid for another bought another program called RAdmin []. It's quite a bit faster than VNC (at least 3.3.3), uses fully encrypted data transfer for all connections, has built-in file transfer, remote shell, and remote shutdown/restart capabilities, and is very small and easy to install. They have a free 30 day evaluation which you might want to have a look at ($35 to buy). Just a very happy customer.

    While I use VNC when I'm out of town and want to remote access my machine at work so I can get in from anywhere, when I'm connecting two of my own machines, I use RAdmin for the speed, security and features. Unfortunately RAdmin isn't cross-platform (or an open protocol), so it's somewhat more limited than VNC. Each has their uses.
  • by NoMercy ( 105420 )
    I do hope they remember that VNC was and is used on more than the popular desktops, Ive seen versions for every obscure platform Ive ever layed eyes on, and they should aim to keep it working on most *nix OS's and others.
  • by egghat ( 73643 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @07:31AM (#4349569) Homepage
    VNC is already split into the original distribution from ORL (now RealVNC [], TightVNC [] from Constantin & friends, eSVNC [], which added security and file transfers (though win only) and a bunch of Pocket PC, Palm, MacOS, OS X etc. forks.

    VNC is such a wonderful und useful program and I sometimes dream of how much better, securer and faster it could be.

    Plaese combine your efforts. The world will thank you.

    bye egghat.
  • by gvozd ( 239659 ) on Saturday September 28, 2002 @08:57AM (#4349696)
    There are a couple of things that you should be aware of before putting VNC on Windows 2000 servers. The first is the well-known problems with security, including the "encrypted" hash stored in the registry and the brute force vulnerability.

    More importantly, though, for those of you thinking of running VNC on heavily-used Windows servers is that the CPU run queue tends to increase by 8 or so when VNC is in full screen polling mode. If you want to run perfmon over a remote connection, the two free RDP connections on W2K Server are a much better choice.
  • From what I can see of this, it's basically something like a cross-platform PCanywhere or something similar? For linux I'm probably just as happy to use SSH, I don't really need a GUI for remote operations. Can anybody suggest why I would use VNC instead of just PCAnywhere/SSH, or is it just a cool tool to use?

    *Note: We are using PCAnywhere at work, if this does the job without the cost, I might just argue a switch.

    We had a guy that left his remote-desktop control on. It took him 15 minutes to figure out why his mouse kept jumping away from where he was trying to click, lots of fun - phorm
  • A company has been formed aiming to 'act as the focal point for open source VNC.'

    Yeah, I hear there's good money in that :)

    Seriously, best of luck to them. VNC completely and totally rocks. I am an alumnus of VNC on Windows, Linux and AIX and it's a lifesaver.

    I see it's one of those "it's free but please contribute so we don't starve" business models, augmented by one of those "You're a corporation that hasn't banned VNC for unspoken and ill-understood 'security reasons' yet? How about this 'enterprise support offering'?" models.

    OK, fine... moderate me down. I've got some Karma to spare today :) I really AM behind them, I swear. Just having a little fun.

  • Their site says Refunds will be given at the discretion of the Company Management at the bottom... what in the world is that about?

    Seems to be a lot of focus on bringing in revenue for a company whose mission is to "act as the focal point for open source VNC". Suggesting that companies contact them about commercial support is one thing (and not a bad idea and I wish them all the best) but suggesting "commercial licensing" is downright silly. Even asking for donations is fine, but why the hell would anybody try to downgrade a license from free to non-free?

    • Re:Refunds? (Score:3, Informative)

      by anomaly ( 15035 )
      This may be odd to you, but my fortune 500 company would much rather pay for software that comes with a service contract than use free software.

      As an example, we don't have a mailing list type technology installed. We began to investigate L-Soft

      (Who by the way don't want you to say "listserv" unless you're referring to their brand of mailing list technology - I'm sure that kleenex and xerox felt the same way. But I digress...)

      We decided not to implement anything because we couldn't afford to pay for the software licenses. Never mind that we need that technology, and that the ROI for building it is huge....

      I proposed that we use free software to solve that problem. The answer was no.

      The company position was:
      a) we want someone to help us if it breaks,
      b) we want someone to sue if it breaks something really important, and
      c) if the software is free, how can we recover our costs? Our internal customers will know that we paid nothing, and won't want to reimburse us for the engineering costs.

      None of these reasons may make sense to you, but they are a cultural perspective that makes perfect sense to folks who run billion-dollar companies.

      There are LOTS of companies that will be glad to pay for support of a free product. Just ask Eric Allman!
      • I see that a) and c) are very valid points.

        But b) shows that whoever's involved with their purchasing decisions is a fool. Tell him he should read his EULAs more carefully, because he'll find that most commercial software is "as bad as" or worse than open-source/free software in the liability/sue-ability arena.
        • This guy works for a Fortune 500 company. If you think their lawyers can't overcome a shrinkwrap EULA... well, let's just say there'd be a settlement in about 30 seconds if something big broke, EULA or no EULA.
  • How is the future looking now that the EULA in Windows XP disallows remote administration tools other than Microsoft's [], if I get it right.

    Isn't the main purpose of VNC to control Windows machines? (You have other alternatives for other platforms).
  • This is great! I hope they fully integrate "Tight" encoding ( back into the main source tree. It's wonderful.

    I use VNC a lot at work. My desktop machine (with Outlook - bleh) runs a VNC server so that I can check email and such remotely from the lab I spend large amounts of time in. It is also nice because the rackmount machine I use in the lab for some of my work has a rather badly situated monitor, it's simpler to use a VNC viewer on my laptop 3 feet away. :)

    The only annoying thing I've noticed, but haven't been found any documentation on: How does VNC's polling mechanism differ between Windows 2000 and Windows 98? My desktop in the cube runs Win2k and VNC sessions are silky smooth without any performance tweaks to improve VNC performance. The lab machine mentioned before runs '98 and is laggy as anything even with a few performance tweaks (16-bit color depth, etc.) and the fact that it's sitting on the same 100 Mbit hub as the viewer as opposed to traversing the network across the building. The machine hardware is nearly identical between the systems.

    Note: I'm running TightVNC in all instances.

    My favorite command: 'startx /usr/bin/vncviewer -fullscreen' :)

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