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I would like to start a vncserver on *NIX machine and then on the client side (windows XP) I would like to be able to have just the terminal from the server machine (like gnome-terminal) without having the full desktop displayed on my client machine. Also when I invoke gvim from that terminal I would like the gvim to open in its own window on the client. In this way it seems like the sever applications are almost part of the client.

I have done this before myself and I have seen others do this but I cannot for the life of me remember how I did it:

vncserver -headless ???

If anyone can help me jog my memory I would appreciate it.

share|improve this question
It sounds like what you really want is X11 fowarding, not VNC. – Zoredache May 31 '11 at 20:51
Its possible. I tried X11 forwarding but it was very slow and I remember it being much faster last time I tried it. Of coarse last time I tried it I was working for a different company so all bets are off as far as performance goes. It may be that I just need to request faster VNC from my company. – stephenmm May 31 '11 at 20:56
X11 forwarding is wonderful over a LAN, but not so great over the Internet. If you have a low-speed link VNC may be what you have to accept, but I don't believe you will get it to do seamless windows. (each app shows up as a separate window on the client. Wikipedia has remote control features list tells you which methods support seamless windows – Zoredache May 31 '11 at 21:10
I tried the free (to download) TightVNC client as it claims it does more compression than traditional VNC but it was unable to connect to my corporate network. I will probably just have to go beg and pleed with IT to improve the VNC connections... Not looking forward to this... – stephenmm May 31 '11 at 21:13
@stephenmm, your IT department may not be able to do anything, if you are trying to use VNC outside of their network. They really can't do anything about the networks outside of their control. – Zoredache May 31 '11 at 21:17
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Use SSH with GNU Screen instead.

On the server, make sure you have SSH configured, and on the client use the built-in SSH command (Unix or Linux) or PuTTY (MS-Windows). GNU Screen will let you keep multiple sessions running without requiring that you keep your SSH session connected.

  PuTTY (free and open source)

  GNU Screen (free and open source)

But if you do have a GUI running on your headless server, there may be configuration options for your VNC server software that will allow you to use VNC only with a specific application window. I know that UltraVNC can do this.

  UltraVNC (free and open source)

share|improve this answer
I believe, UltraVNC can only do seamless mode for Windows-based servers. – Zoredache May 31 '11 at 21:06
@Zoredache (+1): Darn it. Hopefully that will change in a future release. – Randolf Richardson May 31 '11 at 21:09
+1 for Putty... – ubiquibacon May 31 '11 at 22:50

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