Create VNC Servers

Please note that this information is provided for reference purposes only. Userful support associates may not directly assist in configuring the applications for your organization.

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. VNC clients and servers from different companies often work together as well, though some companies develop proprietary versions.

Windows PCs as VNC Servers

Install TightVNC for Windows

Go to the TightVNC Download Page, select the version of TightVNC for Windows matching your operating system (32-bit or 64-bit), download and run it, following the installation wizard.

Select Typical when prompted for Setup Type. If you select Custom, ensure TightVNC Server is selected.

Ensure Register TightVNC Server as a system service (recommended) is enabled. Register TightVNC Server as a system service when prompted.

Set and record a password for password-based authentication - this is strongly recommended for security. 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.

For PCs running Windows 7 or older, it is also recommended to install the DFMirage Driver, available from the same Download page, for improved performance.

Server Configuration

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

Using TightVNC to capture Multiple Displays

By default, TightVNC will capture and broadcast all displays on a system as a single feed. Userful 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.

Ensure TightVNC is already running, or is set to run as a service, as above. Open the TightVNC Server configuration (right-click the system tray icon or find the Control Interface in the Start Menu), and click the "Extra Ports" tab.

Click Add. 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)

For example, to capture the middle display of a 3-monitor setup where all displays are 1920x1080, you would use 1920x1080+1920+0. To capture the first and second display on this theoretical system, you would use 3840x1080+0+0, and so on.

To capture all displays individually, create rules for each display.

Finally, it's a simple matter of specifying the relevant port when creating the Desktop Streamer source to create a Source for each individual display.

MAC/OSX as VNC Servers

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.

Linux as VNC Servers

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.

iOS or Android

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

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