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At work, we use VNC to run a graphical session on a remote Linux server from Windows-based client laptops (sigh). I have a laptop with a much lower resolution than the external monitor on my desk at work. As such, I want to be able to resize the VNC server's screen every so often. Unfortunately, the VNC server that's running on the Linux server is ancient enough not to support xrandr.

My "cunning plan" was to run a script that killed the running VNC server and started up a new one with the other resolution. Sure, I lose running applications, but this is still a lot less typing than SSH'ing in with putty each time. Of course, I can't just type vncserver -kill ...; vncserver ... in an xterm, since I'd be killing the session containing the xterm! So my idea was to use something like screen -RS vnc_ctl change_vnc.sh to get around that problem.

Unfortunately, if you do this and log back in with the VNC client, you just get an empty black screen. Admittedly, it has the right resolution, but that's not really much help! I presume that this means the vncserver script isn't finding ${HOME}/.vnc/xstartup, but I can't really see why it doesn't work.

So the questions (at last):

  • Any ideas on why vncserver is failing to find my xstartup properly and how to fix that?

  • Or, how would you work around this situation a different way?

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