Saturday, May 29, 2010

Big screen VNC from a small netbook

Netbooks are great, but sometimes 600 vertical pixels isn't enough.

Ubuntu includes screen sharing but it's just a mirror of the small screen, so here's a tip to serve up a vnc desktop for use on a larger screen client computer (I use MacOS X's built in VNC client).

Here's how it looks:

Screen shot 2010-05-29 at 1.28.37 PM.png

To do this, at least on Ubuntu 10.04, but probably the same on earlier versions:

  • aptitude install tightvncserver
  • run vncserver once so it creates a .vnc directory in your home
  • edit ~/.vnc/xstartup like this:

  • #!/bin/sh
    xsetroot -solid black
    gnome-session &
    • Start the server like this:

    vncserver -geometry 1500x1100 -depth 16
    • Connect with your VNC client, on my mac it's vnc://
    • Stop the server like this

    vncserver -kill :1

    Obviously adjust the geometry XxY pixels above according to the size of your client screen.

    All credit to this thread on the Ubuntu forums.

    I think it would be a great feature if Ubuntu had a headless mode that would share a vnc screen without the need to run a gnome session on the physical laptop. One issue is that there is no wireless connection until you log in.

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