How to use VNC

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The idea of a VNC connection is that a client connects to a server installed in a remote computer. Then, the client receives a duplicate of the remote computer's display screen from the server. This is really useful when an interactive connection to a remote computer is needed.


For instance, if you have a connection to a cluster via SSH and you need to download some data from a web page where a manual installation is needed, a VNC connection is the best solution for you.

RealVNC is one of the most useful and complete platforms to perform a VNC connection as one can see in this comparison. It has an open version which is all you need for non-commercial interactive connections, as well as, some other options paying the commercial version.

Install VNC Server in a remote machine

In order to install a VNC Server in a cluster machine, you need to have an SSH connection to the cluster. For instance, if you want to install a VNC Server in colibri, the steps are the following:

1) A first SSH connection to colibri or the cluster machine where the VNC Server is going to be installed:


2) Find the URL from where to download the Real VNC Connect

In the case of colibri, the URL is

3) Install Real VNC Connect using the previous URL

Type in the terminal

wget previous_URL

In the case of colibri, type in the terminal


This downloads a TAR file. In the case of colibri the file is VNC-Server-6.3.2-Linux-x86-ANY.tar.gz.

3) Untar the file using tar command

In the case of colibri

tar -xvf VNC-Server-6.3.2-Linux-x86-ANY.tar.gz -C .

This creates a directory named after the TAR file with all the server installation inside. In the case of colibri the folder is called VNC-Server-6.3.2-Linux-x86.

Instead of . one can specify a directory where to install the VNC Server.

4) Run VNC Server to be visible for the VNC Viewer

  • Go inside the directory with all the server installation.
  • Run vncserver.

In the case of colibri

cd VNC-Server-6.3.2-Linux-x86 

And this will show in the terminal the next message

New 'colibri.ucdenver.pvt:x (username)' desktop is colibri.ucdenver.pvt:x

Starting applications specified in /export/share_home/username/.vnc/xstartup

Log file is /export/share_home/username/.vnc/colibri.ucdenver.pvt:x.log

This creates a background server desktop connection colibri.ucdenver.pvt:x where x is any number assigned. Normally starting by 1 and so on.

5) Now you are prepared to connect to the server.

Connect to a VNC Server using VNC Viewer

1) Download and install VNC Viewer in your local machine from

depending on your local Operating System.

2) Start a new connection and specify the VNC Server as the previous server desktop.

In the colibri case is


where x is the number of desktop.

3) Introduce your password in colibri or the remote machine.

4) Enjoy your interactive connection to colibri or the remote machine!

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