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I'm using TightVNC on my Windows XP workstations to connect to a remote OS X box (10.5.x) using OS X's VNC support.

I've noticed that the TightVNC will become unresponsive after a period of inactivity. Is this a common issue? Restarting TightVNC solves the problem, but can be a bit annoying. Is there a solution to this?

I don't suppose copy & paste between the two systems can be made to work?

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4 Answers 4

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Actually, sometimes text from draggable content, such as in a URL in a browser, is suddenly draggable all the way to the other computer. But Apple has limited the clipboard usage a lot, in favour of their paid version of ARD (and old tricks to show hidden ARD things no longer seem to work). For a poor man's copy & paste of just text, you could consider synchronising a document using something like Dropbox.

But, as on Windows VNC only uses a password without a username, and as your Mac allows endless attempts to connect, you actually might want to set up VNC to connect through a secure SSH connection. (That is: if your Mac's SSH blocks an account for some time upon subsequent login failures; something to validate.) Once the secure SSH connecting is established, the VNC client would then connect to "localhost", and hence "tunnel" the screen sharing through that secure connection. Once you have that SSH in place, then you can also share that copy & paste document through SSH, without the need for third-parties like Dropbox. And maybe (but I doubt it) that would solve the timeout issues as well.

A few hints to help you search if you want to set up VNC over SSH:

ssh me@mymac.example.com -L 5900:127.0.0.1:5900

To circumvent "You cannot share your own computer", only if you run into that (probably only happens when connecting from a Mac to another machine, not what you're doing):

defaults write com.apple.ScreenSharing skipLocalAddressCheck -boolean YES

Note that screen sharing has only been built-in since Tiger. Old tutorials may tell you to install a server like Vine (though some actually still prefer that). I guess good search terms would include tunnel screen sharing ssh putty windows mac -osxvnc.

(Let us know what you found!)

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My experience is that it seems to specifically plague TightVNC and will go away if clipboards aren't shared between client and server. I bothered a couple buddies at Apple about it and we couldn't come up with anything better than that.

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Take a look at the idle time out setting on the server.

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The Remote Management section of the Sharing System Preference doesn't offer a timeout or idle-time setting. There is probably a setting buried in a plist file, if I feel motivated enough to find it. –  Craig Sep 12 '09 at 20:41
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You can try another VNC client like Real VNC to see if the problem is with the client or with the server. I'm not an expert of Mac but maybe there are other VNC Servers too.

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Chicken of the VNC is fairly solid as a 3rd party server/client –  JoshP Jun 21 '12 at 17:24
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