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I fear I know the answer to this already, but I would like to be able to connect to my Mac Mini in a 'remote desktop' fashion.

I would like to connect to my Mac as if I were sat at my desk, but I want to be able to access it from my Ubuntu machine.

I'm using Snow Leopard and Ubuntu Server 8.04.



So I tried the screen sharing option, the problem I have with this is that the screen resolution I see is that of my 22" at home, so on my little netbook the 1920 x 1200 resolution requires lots of scrolling this way, and scrolling that way etc etc.

With my experience of Windows systems, the remote desktop protocol spawns a new session specifically for remote access, solving the screen size problem and means the machine doesn't have to be logged in to be connected to.

Is there an option of this nature that I could explore, instead of sharing the screen?

I did try LogMeIn, unfortunately this had the same effect as the screen sharing.

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10 Answers 10

up vote 25 down vote accepted

On the Mac: Go to System Preferences -> Sharing and enable "Screen Sharing".

On Ubuntu: Using any suitable VNC client (xtightvncviewer appears to be the most compatible), enter the IP address or host name or your Mac Mini and then connect. You should now see your Mac's desktop.

For added security, click on the "Computer Settings..." button in "Screen Sharing" to enable and set an additional VNC password if required.

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I've tried your suggestion, it works ok(ish)... but see my edit for a full update, – Ben Everard Mar 9 '10 at 9:41
Whilst RDP takes advantage of Terminal Services to do this on Windows, VNC can't do this on the Mac, Windows or Linux. I use both solutions (VNC and LogMeIn) on various platforms (Mac, Windows and iPhone) and always have to change the screen resolution to suit or scroll. Sorry. – Asinine Monkey Mar 9 '10 at 15:57
It worked for me only after a restart. – David d C e Freitas Jun 30 '14 at 4:13

I tried lots of things but this was the only thing that actually worked for me:

There are two tricks to using VNC from a non Mac to connect to a Mac running OS X Lion.

Turn on the VNC server by enabling System Preferences -> Sharing -> Screen Sharing. Even though it provides little security, a VNC password must be set so that OS X will present an authentication scheme that makes sense to a standard VNC client. Enable “VNC viewers may control screen with password“

After connecting, you will see a grey linen-backgrounded desktop with nothing in it. Type your user name and password. After logging in, your desktop contents will display!

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You can use VNC. It is platform-independent.

From Linux, TightVNC will connect to an Mac OS X session served by Apple Remote Desktop if the VNC option is enabled.

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Personally I think the best solution is not bitmap-based.

NoMachine (and other groups like FreeNX) offer something called NX. It is an X windows interface that provides for bitmap caching and compresses the line drawing commands that are sent to the graphical device. NX can be very fast over low speed connections because it does not send differences between screens as does the VNC protocol. Over high speed connections the quality and performance is excellent. It's at least as good, or better, than Remote Desktop on Windows.

NoMachine offers a free version of their server and client. They support Windows, Linux, Apple Mac and are now working on Android and iOS. You can download their free products or try their commercial products from this page:

The FreeNX group also provides an NX server and clients but I'm not aware of any support for Apple Mac systems. Of course it's a good idea to keep up with their progress which you can do here:

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NoMachine is much better than TeamViewer or VNC (Linux to Mac). In fact the quality and performance are almost as good as the local display (on LAN anyway). – Jonathan Neufeld Mar 29 at 20:01

This may not be the best solution for you, but I use SSH, but it's not on by default.

To enable it, from system preferences, go to Internet & Networking > there is a Sharing > Remote Login.

The best part about SSH for me is that I can access it painlessly from anywhere including my phone!

EDIT: This is going to be the most cross platform support you're going to get out of any of these options.

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Thanks for your answer, I use SSH for the usual stuff, including from my iPhone etc, but in this scenario I would like to use Coda for web development whilst out and about / at work. Cheers! – Ben Everard Mar 8 '10 at 15:35
I do have it all set up using Dropbox so all of my files are synced to the 'cloud', and then back down to my netbook, and working on them on that is great but sometimes being able to access apps from the mac is priceless. – Ben Everard Mar 8 '10 at 15:37

There's an application called Splashtop ... you run a "Streamer" on the host, and the main app on the client. It performs brilliantly.

For some reason, you have to pay for Splashtop on Macs, but it's free for most other platforms.

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You also need to pay $1.99 a month to use the personal edition across different networks. So if you are at work and want to access a machine at home, you'll need the subscription. – Dan Harris May 28 '14 at 10:33
No extra charge for Macs as of this date. I'm using Ubuntu on the client side. Never heard of Splashtop before, so I tried it out. Unfortunately, the latest client is for Ubuntu 12.04 and there's a lot of talk about how to get it running on 14.04. One suggestion was Wine, which works well for the "standard desktop app" version of the Windows client. With Splashtop up and running, my initial impression is that it's nicer than my usual VNC experience. Definitely worth trying. – Bezewy Dec 3 '15 at 20:40

For Macs with Retina screen don't forget to scale the display.

for example with UltraVnc :

enter image description here

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LogMeIn Free works with PC/Mac as a server, and PC/Mac/Linux as clients.

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See my updated question. – Ben Everard Mar 9 '10 at 9:42
There is an option in LogMeIn to scale the display to fit. Options, View, Scale to Fit. – churnd Jul 11 '10 at 13:38

I use iRAPP. (

It provides as a terminal server on MacOS. You can then connect to this mac using standard RDP from any Windows machine. For me this solution has way more performance than any VNC I have tried. Enjoy.

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Please add some context from the link. Link-only answers are not permitted here. – gparyani Mar 17 '14 at 15:20
WARNING: "Code Rebel Corp. has stopped operations." - – Wayne Bloss Jul 10 at 17:00

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