&otI’ve got need at work for running VNC on one of the machines so an app running on it can be shared with multiple users on the network. VNC is a great solution that’s been out there for a long time, but in general it kinda sucks because, 1. it’s slow, 2. the image resolution is crappy, and 3. it’s slow.
Did I mention it was slow? Well, it is.
I’ve been using Chicken of the VNC for a long time, and it works reasonably well for remotely controlling the PC servers I manage on the network, but today I tried using it to control a Mac and it puked all over the task. Wouldn’t pull up a screen at all; just gave an error — Connection Terminated: Zlib inflate error: invalid block type. That was it for me; I decided to shop around for a newer/faster/better solution.
I’ve also used Apple Remote Desktop, which would be a nice option because it’s got a lot of additional features I could put to use. But it’s expensive too; $300 for a 10 Managed Systems edition, which allows for one administrator. I’m not sure, but I think that means there can be up to 10 systems that can be controlled, but only one machine that can do the controlling. That mule don’t pull in the job I’m needing filled.
One thing I discovered on my visit to Apple’s site is that ARD is basically VNC built into the Mac OS (at least for 10.4 and above). Enabling the VNC server on a Mac is as easy as opening the Sharing Preferences pane in System Preferences, turning on Apple Remote Desktop, and enabling VNC control in the window that pops up. That allows any machine running a VNC client to hook up via port 5900 and control it. Slick. And. Easy. (great set of instructions at MacMiniColo.net.)
But then a Google search led me to Vine VNC; wow. Just wow. Does it work nicely or what. It pulled up the screen for the Mac in question with no problem. The screen resolution on that machine is larger than the screen on my lowly PowerBook, but no problem; the scroll wheel on my mouse allows me to move around in the window just like it should. The screen resolution and color on the remote Mac window is beautiful, just as it should be. It just works.
Vine isn’t free, but at $30 it’s not bad either. I gladly ponied up for it (besides, it wasn’t my money!)
Before I bought Vine, I dug around a little more on Apple’s site and found another VNC option, JollysFastVNC. Very nice freebie. Not quite as nice as Vine — the Ctrl-Alt-Del command requires a trip to the menu bar, whereas Vine lets you do it on the keyboard — but still very nice. Relatively fast, nice resolution, and free.
So, to cap it off, using VNC on the Mac doesn’t have to be a painful experience. There are some great solutions out there, but as has always been the case with Mac software, it takes a little digging to find what you’re looking for that works well.