VNC is a tool to create virtual desktops which provides an environment to run graphical applications in. On accessdev there are two desktop managers available: gnome and openbox.

Gnome is the default desktop manager. However, it contains a lot of add on's which are not necessary for ACCESS development and uses a significant amount of memory. For this reason, we've installed Openbox which provides a lightweight desktop more suitable for running on accessdev.

Openbox is a minimilistic window manager which runs inside the GNOME Desktop environment. This is recommended for use on accessdev.

Set Up

  1. Create a vnc password to log into your desktop (doesn't have to be same as your nci login). execute:
  2. Copy openbox configuration to your home directory and make sure it is executable:

cp ~access/openbox/xstartup ~/.vnc/xstartup
chmod +x ~/.vnc/xstartup

Starting VNC

  1. Login via SSH to accessdev and run:
    vncserver -geometry 1024x800 -autokill 

This will tell you which display your vncserver is using. e.g. :1.

If you want to connect to an old session vncserver -list will show the display.


Setting up the connection from your local machine depends on the vnc client you are using. There are a number of options available:


SSVNC is a free vnc viewer, available on Linux, Mac OS and Windows.

It is able to set up an ssh tunnel into accessdev for you.

  1. Enter VNC Host:Display: "<USER> (or replace 1 with the display number of your vncserver)
  1. Choose "Use SSH"
  1. Click "Connect". A terminal will pop up. You will need to enter your nci password, at the prompt first, then the vnc password you created in the "set up" section.


Vinagre is a vnc client for linux

  1. First you need to create an SSH tunnel to forward the VNC connection to your client machine (adjust the port number to match the display number given by the above command. For example use port 5902 for display :2):
    ssh -N -L 9000:localhost:5901 <USER> 

You need to leave this window open to connect to the VNC session.

  1. Choose Protocol: "VNC"
  1. Enter Host: "localhost::9000"
  1. Tick "Use JPEG Compression"
  1. Click connect. You will then need to enter the password you created in step 1 of "Set Up".

Finishing up

When you're finished, log out of the desktop and close the VNC client.

Note, if you don't log out correctly you might need to kill your vnc session manually, otherwise it will keep running in the background. This can be done by running the following command on accessdev:

vncserver -kill :N 

where :N is the display shown when running

vncserver -list


Minmised windows seem to vanish but you can use the middle mouse button to see a list.


Cut/paste work as normal within the VNC session but not to and from external programs.

Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Dec 7, 2015 11:59:44 AM