Configuring VNC Servers

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Copyright © 2019 Userful Corporation. All rights reserved.
(Updated 2019.04.25)

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Introduction

This page provides basic instructions for installing and configuring generic VNC Server applications.

VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a standard, not an application. There are many different applications available that can function as VNC servers. TightVNC is a mature, freely-available option that has existed since 2001.

Since VNC is a protocol, it is cross-platform compatible, meaning Windows VNC clients can connect to and control Linux or OSX VNC servers, and vice versa, etc. VNC clients and servers from different companies often work together as well, though some companies develop proprietary versions.

Note: This page is provided as a reference only; Userful staff may not directly assist in the configuration of applications for your organizations systems.

Before you begin

For best results, you should ensure all drivers on your system are up to date, particularly drivers for your video cards/display adapters. It is recommended you check with your PC vendor for any available driver and other software updates and install them.

Windows PCs

Install TightVNC for Windows

TightVNC Setup

TightVNC can be easily installed using standard Windows Installer.

  1. Go to the TightVNC Download Page
  2. Select the version of TightVNC for Windows matching your operating system (32-bit or 64-bit)
  3. Download and run it, following the installation wizard
  4. Select "Typical" when prompted for Setup Type. If you select "Custom", ensure "TightVNC Server" is selected.
  5. Ensure "Register TightVNC Server as a system service (recommended)" is enabled.
  6. Register TightVNC Server as a system service when prompted.
  7. Set and record a password for password-based authentication - this is strongly recommended for security.
  8. Set and record an administrative password (optional). This allows you to prevent the end user from being able to alter the VNC Server's settings.

Setup is now complete.


TightVNC Server Configuration

VNC Start Menu entries in Windows 10

TightVNC Server can run as either an application or service.

As an application, TightVNC is started either manually or automatically after user login, and runs only for that user.

As a service, TightVNC starts automatically when Windows boots, and runs no matter which user is logged in.


Application Mode

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Application Mode) > Run TightVNC Server.

To quit TightVNC server:

  • Right-click the TightVNC system tray icon and choose "Shutdown TightVNC Server".


Service Mode

By default, TightVNC installs as a service in Windows.

If you did not install TightVNC as a service during install and wish to change that, the simplest way is to reinstall TightVNC.

To start the TightVNC Server service one-time:

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Service Mode) > Start TightVNC Service
  • Run net start tvnserver in the Windows command line.

To stop the TightVNC Server service:

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Service Mode) > Stop TightVNC Service
  • Run net stop tvnserver in the Windows command line.


If you unchecked the recommended option "Register TightVNC Server as a system service" during installation, you will need to register TightVNC as a service.

  • Go to Start > Programs > TightVNC > TightVNC Server (Service Mode) > Register TightVNC Service.


For further configuration options and documentation, see TightVNC's Documentation Page


Multiple Displays

By default, TightVNC will capture and broadcast all displays on a system as a single feed. Userful by default will fit this feed into a 16:9 canvas. To capture only select displays, or portions of display(s), it is required to specify the display geometry you wish to capture:

  1. Ensure TightVNC is already running, or is set to run as a service, as above
  2. Open TightVNC Server configuration (right-click the system tray icon or find the Control Interface in the Start Menu)
  3. Click the "Extra Ports" tab, and click "Add" to add a rule
  4. Specify the port you wish to use (5901 is the default) and the geometry specification (in pixels) you need. (h. resolution x v. resolution + X offset + Y offset)
    1. For example, to capture the middle display of a 3-monitor setup where all displays are 1920x1080, you would use 1920x1080+1920+0
    2. To capture the first and second display on this system, you would use 3840x1080+0+0
    3. To capture the first and third display on this system, you would set two rules and sources, 1920x1080+0+0 and 1920x1080+3840+0
    4. To capture all displays individually, create rules for each display.
    5. Note that the canvas is not always the same, depending on monitor layout as it relates to video outputs. Obtaining the desired results from the first above configuration may necessitate changing the X value to either 0 or 3840.
  5. Configure the Desktop Streamer (VNC) source for the appropriate port.


Mac/OSX

OSX version 10.4 and newer include VNC server functionality natively. No external software is necessary.

VNC is configured in System Preferences -> Sharing. In the Services panel, enable "Apple Remote Desktop". Use "Access Privileges" to set a password.

iOS/Android Mobile Devices

While there are many VNC client applications for Android and iOS, VNC server functionality for these platforms does not exist.

Linux Desktops

A great deal of free/open source VNC applications exist for many Linux distributions. Most have TightVNC available in their own repositories and installing it involves running some derivative of install tightvncserver.

Your distribution's documentation or community is the best place to look for assistance when dealing with your particular distribution of Linux.

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