Remotely control your desktop
April 9, 2001 12:25 AM   Subscribe

Remotely control your desktop from any Java-enabled web browser. AT&T Labs' VNC (Virtual Network Computing) has existed for quite a while but never mentioned here. The tiny server runs on Mac, Windows and Unix platforms, installs quick and easy, and is free to download and use. See the neat screenshots of various client/server combinations if you're not yet convinced of its usefulness (35k GIF).
posted by waxpancake (14 comments total)
I've been using this for the last year, and it's gotten me out of more scrapes than you can imagine.

You don't even need a static IP address to use it. After my friend installed it, dialed in to AOL and looked up his IP address, I was able to connect to the password-protected IP and port, and remotely use his mouse and keyboard to fix his Windows 2000 desktop.

Best of all, since the viewer is a small Java applet, I would have been able to administer his computer from any modern web browser.

Oh, and it's great for gags. At my last job, we had fun taking over the keyboards of our co-workers and pretending the computer had come to life. Hilarity ensues.
posted by waxpancake at 12:42 AM on April 9, 2001

VNC is one of my favorite programs of all time. There's a palm client, too, which means I can (and do) connect to my desktop from my Palm V at home during emergencies to restart processes and the like. It's nothing short of amazing, and the built in java webserver is a life saver.

It's also great for non-admin folks: there's an option to disable the remote keyboard and mouse. That means you can give live demos to clients, walking them through mockups or whatever, and all they need is a java-enabled web browser. It's really quite slick.
posted by eamondaly at 1:27 AM on April 9, 2001

It's gorgeous. I spent ages looking for a decent free X server for Windows, and this has all the functionality with none of the overheads.
posted by holgate at 4:00 AM on April 9, 2001

VNC = good shiznit. There are other folks pushing the code further along, too:



They are mostly about bandwidth optimizations. TightVNC is working on adding lossy compression, too.
posted by NortonDC at 4:23 AM on April 9, 2001

there is an enterprising group fo swedes called MindBright Technology built a VNC client called MindVNC that's a Java VNC client, but also tunnels data over a ssh connection (could be via their java ssh client, MindTerm. It's a pretty cool set of tools to have loaded..especially if you care at all about somebody sniffing your data / passwords. I believe that MindVNC is included in the mindterm package one downloads.
posted by chacal at 4:57 AM on April 9, 2001

Huh, it was never mentioned on mefi? I'm been using it for atleast 2-3 years now, there are cool things you can do to impress your things outside of the practical uses and all.
posted by tiaka at 5:44 AM on April 9, 2001

I've been using this for quite awhile and am still convinced that it is much better than anything else out there (other than the fact that it's free). If only someone would develop an OS/2 VNC server, then I could truly work from home.

We used to need a seperate wrapper proggie for restricting IP addresses which VNC now has built in. The part that got me from the start, is that the entire package (server and client) fits on a single floppy.

Question: Has anyone VNC'd to a PC only to connect back to the originating? I'm hoping I'm not the only one ;-)
posted by samsara at 6:04 AM on April 9, 2001

Actually, since we're on the subject, does anyone know of an HTTPS tunnel for windows 9x? One of VNC's big wins in my book is that I can connect to it from any java-enabled web browser-- I'd be /thrilled/ if I could do so via SSL.

Note that this is not the same as tunnelling via SSH. I want to be able to connect securely without having to download and install any client software.
posted by eamondaly at 6:05 AM on April 9, 2001

Looks great! Thanks for the post, waxpancake.
posted by lagado at 6:07 AM on April 9, 2001

Wow, neat. But what an ugly logo :)
posted by jragon at 7:56 AM on April 9, 2001

You should also check out the x2vnc extension. It allows you to have 2 monitors side by side, one running a Unix, the other running a Win32, and slide your mouse (and focus), from one OS to the other, simply by moving your mouse between the two monitors.

posted by nomisxid at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2001

Workspot is a free service that allows you to use VNC to get your own virtual Linux desktop. On a fast connection, it's very speedy. Sign up for free, log in, and you've got a desktop inside your browser. Quite impressive.

Very useful for testing your sites from outside a firewall, or seeing how things look on a Unix browser.
posted by kaefer at 9:09 AM on April 9, 2001

"I spent ages looking for a decent free X server for Windows, and this has all the functionality with none of the overheads."

VNC is a fine substitute for a casual user, but you should know that the "overhead" is dumped back to the host which must now run the X Server. Good luck running multiple X sessions on an underpowered host with VNC!

Also, VNC is fine if you're running simple-minded clients. If you're running something more graphically intense, such as CAD/CAM/visualization apps or OpenGL apps, you're screwed. VNC will drop frame buffers in a feeble attempt to keep up with traffic.

For many power users, VNC is not an acceptable substitute for a good PC X server. However, if you don't need the horsepower of local X server, it will probably work for you.
posted by shinybeast at 10:39 AM on April 9, 2001

"I spent ages looking for a decent free X server for Windows"

you should know that the "overhead" is dumped back to the host which must now run the X Server

Very true, but in my experience running VNC as a remote X server is much less demanding on the host than running a real X server locally. My 486DX2 can barely handle running X locally, but start vncserver and connect from my Windows box and zooooooooooom.

Or maybe that's just a video card problem.
posted by daveadams at 11:54 AM on April 9, 2001

« Older I've been waiting to see this all day!!!   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments