JP Vossen on 6 Apr 2008 11:57:21 -0700

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[PLUG] great tool: x11vnc

I've been testing Xubuntu Hardy beta, but one of my killer apps is 
trivial "remote desktop."  As many of you probably know, that's built-in 
to the Gnome Ubuntu as (wait for it) "System, Preferences, Remote 
Desktop".  But vino is a Gnome app, which a) doesn't work under Xfce and 
b) would kind of defeat the purpose of running Xfce if it did work and 
had to load all the Gnome libs anyway.

There are a lot of really hairy gazillion-step HOWTOs out there when you 
Google for xfce remote desktop, but there are some problems with them. 
First, while I'm capable of implementing them, I don't feel like it.  I 
use Ubuntu because I want it to Just Work without messing around with 
it.  If I wanted to do that kind of thing I'd be using Gentoo.  Second, 
most of the "solutions" I found don't actually give you the current, 
console session (:0), they give you a new X session (:1 +).  The 
*entire* point of this is to get the existing console desktop, for 
remote control or t-shooting.  I finally grew a brain and went down the 
output from "aptitude search vnc" line by line, doing an "aptitude show 
<package>" for likely looking ones.

Enter x11vnc [1], which I'd not known about.  Not only does it do 
*exactly* what I wanted on Xubuntu, not only does it mostly Just Work, 
but it has a 4K+ line man page with an amazing number of options clearly 
spelled out, in depth, with examples.  I'm really impressed with this 
package.  (Can you tell?)

The only thing it doesn't do is add a menu item, which is not going to 
be an issue for the folks on this list.  Especially check out the 
-timeout 300 -unixpw -gui options.  For anyone who has to do remote 
support of X desktops, you might even consider this over vino.  I say 
that because you can set it up to be extra secure by creating a menu 
item that the user must execute for the remote person to be able access 
the machine, you can have it timeout and go away, and it has all kinds 
of different passwd/authentication support.  That's as opposed to the 
vino/Gnome setup where it's on or off as a daemon (more or less), with a 
static passwd.  Of course, you can also tunnel it over SSH, stunnel or 
SSL (see the man page).

See also:
Bug #56670, first reported on 2006-08-17  by  Caroline Ford
   Xubuntu needs a VNC server like vino is to Gnome

Bug #212704, first reported 10 hours ago  by  JP Vossen
   x11vnc should create a menu item

Check it out,

[1] $ aptitude show x11vnc
Package: x11vnc
State: installed
Automatically installed: yes
Version: 0.9.3.dfsg.1-1ubuntu1
Priority: optional
Section: universe/x11
Maintainer: Ubuntu Core developers <>
Uncompressed Size: 1593k
Depends: libavahi-client3 (>= 0.6.13), libavahi-common3 (>= 0.6.10), 
libc6 (>= 2.6.1-1), libjpeg62, libssl0.9.8 (>= 0.9.8e-1), libvncserver0, 
libx11-6, libxdamage1 (>= 1:1.1), libxext6, libxfixes3 (>= 1:4.0.1), 
libxinerama1, libxrandr2 (>= 2:1.2.0), libxtst6, zlib1g (>= 
Description: VNC server to allow remote access to an existing X session

x11vnc allows one to view remotely and interact with real X displays 
(i.e. a display corresponding to a physical monitor, keyboard, and 
mouse) with any VNC viewer. It has built-in SSL encryption and 
authentication, UNIX account and password support, server-side scaling, 
single port HTTPS and VNC, mDNS service advertising, and TightVNC and 
ultraVNC file-transfer.
JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|        jp{at}jpsdomain{dot}org
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