Friday, September 5, 2008

Using VNC+SSH to help remote users

Recently, a BUG member asked about using SSH and VNC to remotely control a user's computer to help them with a computer problem. I wrote a quick explanation of how to do it. Since I took the time, I thought I'd share here too.


  1. Great quick explanation, but I have a more specific case that I haven't managed to get working yet, and wondering if you have any suggestions. I am wanting to remotely control an obsd box that's running X through SHH+VNC on OSX. I'm not very familiar with x11vnc, but I assume there's got to be some way to make that work with the now built-in vnc client in OSX 10.5.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Thanks.

    Not having used OS X 10.5, I can't speak to its VNC client. So, if you can't make it work, download Chicken of the VNC.

    As for making OpenBSD work as the "server", I gave the exact command line in the email archive: x11vnc -localhost -display 0.

    What part didn't work when you tried it?

  3. Good summary.

    For Windows machines being remotely controlled, though (since you use Windows as an example in your writeup), I find UltraVNC ( to be a much higher-performance and more featureful VNC variant than TightVNC. It only runs on Windows (other clients can access it), but the focus on one platform has paid off.

    And there's always RDP/rdesktop as well.