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0VNC


VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a graphical desktop sharing program.  Have you ever wished you could take your desktop, with all its open windows and running programs, home?  Or check on it from home?  One solution is to get a laptop that hibernates, but what if you don't want the jobs to quit while you are commuting?  In some cases, for example UsingFarm, you want to keep certain graphical software open indefinitely and would have to sacrifice lots of work if anything (power outage, battery expiring, logout to project slides, etc.) forced you to exit the software.  VNC to the rescue.

VNC also makes it easy to run graphical programs on a remote linux server, while logging in from Windows.  This is not a problem for linux users, who can just login using ssh -X remote.host to have graphical programs running on the remote machine open on their local screen.

Linux has various packages for VNC, including TightVNC external link, RealVNC external link, which also runs on Windows.  The following assumes that vncserver is installed on the linux server where you want your desktop to run and vncviewer is installed on the client, from which you will access the desktop.  I also assume that you will want to access a linux desktop, not a Windows desktop, since all of the servers meant for running big jobs in our lab are linux machines.

Keep in mind that VNC is not designed to access the desktop that displays on the monitor directly connected to a desktop machine (actually, I think it is for Windows).  Think of VNC as creating a virtual desktop, floating in space, seen by no one, until the vncviewer connects.  Long-running jobs, the ones you want to access from multiple places at multiple times, should be run on that virtual desktop not the real desktop.  The best thing is if you get disconnected, for whatever reason, the desktop will continue to exist and all programs in it will be fine, until you are able to connect again.

Also, multiple virtual desktops can exist simultaneously, each is displayed on what is called a display, labeled :1, :2, etc.  I will assume the display is :n, and you should replace the n with your display number wherever it appears below, include in the context 590n.  Finally, I will refer to the remote host running vncserver as <remote_host> throughout.

There are three steps for getting your virtual desktop running.  After you start the server for the first time, you need not start it again, so only steps 2 and 3 are required to reconnect.

01. Starting VNC Server

02. Tunneling VNC Through SSH

03. Connecting to VNC Server

04. Disconnecting from VNC Server

05. Quiting VNC Server

0Details: So it doesn't look like your regular desktop?
So, you followed all the instructions above, but the desktop you connect to with vncviewer looks incredibly flimsy and primitive compared to your usual environment.  Recreating your usual desktop is the trickiest part of the whole process because it varies so much from computer-to-computer.  Here is my best advice.

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