VNC (Desktop Sharing)

As of August 2014, VNC is no longer available on the math/cs department's servers. If anyone actually needs to use it, please contact David Eck (

VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is free software that can be used for desktop sharing among computers. You can use it to connect to a Linux computer and get a graphical login screen. You could also use it to make your Windows desktop available so that you can access it from another computer. VNC is available for Linux, for Windows, and for Mac OS X.

There is free VNC viewer, written in Java, that can be run on most any computer that has Java installed. This viewer can be downloaded from, but here is a link to a copy of the executable jar file on the local network (you must be on the HWS network to access this link):

Save the linked file onto your computer. On a Mac or Windows computer that has Java installed, you should be able to run this viewer just by double-clicking the downloaded file. You will be asked to enter a TightVNC Server and a Port. For the TightVNC Server, you can enter any of the computer names

(Pick one at random to avoid having too many people trying to use the same computer at the same time.)

For the Port, you can enter one of the three numbers

         5901     5902      5903

The first of these (5901) will give you a 1024-by-768 desktop, while the second (5902) will give a larger 1200-by-900 desktop. The third number (5903) will give a tiny 800-by-600 desktop, which might be necessary if your computer has a small screen. Use 5902, unless the larger desktop won't fit on your screen.

You should get a Linux log-in screen where you can enter your user name and password. It will not be exactly the same screen that you see when you run Linux in the computer lab, and your desktop will not have all the features that you would get in the lab. The difference is due to the more limited graphics available over VNC.

Important Note: The csfac computers are only accessible if you are connected to the campus academic HWSMicro network. Just plugging into an ethernet port somewhere on campus does not mean you are on this network. To use vnc, you must set your connection -- either wired or wireless -- following the instructions at

If you can't run the Java version of the viewer on your computer, there are still free VNC viewers available specifically for Mac and Windows. The one for Mac has the unfortunate name "Chicken of the VNC", but it works well. The one for windows is an older version of TightVNC, an exe file that runs only on windows. Use one of the following links for download:

To use vncviewer.exe, save it onto your Windows computer. Run the program by double-clicking on the downloaded file's icon. For this program, you have to enter the compuer and port in one string, and the syntax is different. Enter one of the following as the server: 

The server names ending in :1 give you the 1024-by-768 desktop, while the names ending in 2 give you the larger 1200-by-900 desktop, and names ending in 3 give a tiny 800-by-600 desktop.

For Chicken of the VNC on Mac OS, open the application. If you get a "VNC Login" window, close it. Now, use the "New Connection" command (Command-N). You will be asked for a "Host", a "Display", and a "Password". For the Host, enter one of the computer names,, ..., For the Display, enter 1 for the smaller desktop, 2 for the larger desktop, or 3 for the tiny desktop. Leave the Pasword blank, and leave the other options at their default values. When you hit "Connect", you should get a Linux login screen.