How to run VNC on UT Math Network

VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is, in essence, a remote display system which allows you to view a computing 'desktop' environment from anywhere on the Internet and from a wide variety of machine architectures.

VNC consists of two types of component. A server, which generates a display, and a viewer, which actually draws the display on your screen.

Start up a server on a math lab computer

To start up a server a lab machine, run the command vncserver. You need to run this command in a command shell. To get a command shell on the console, use the menu

To get a command shell remotely, you need to get a SSH (secure shell) client for you operating system first. Linux and MacOS should have it installed by default. For Windows** users, putty is a free easy to use ssh client. Please choose randomly a computer from,, ... to connect.

The command vncserver will prompt you for a password, please create a password and remember it. If succesful, it will inform you the server number. You need to remember it also. The following is an example session.
lab12$ vncserver

You will require a password to access your desktops.

Password: enter_your_password
Verify:   enter_your_password

New 'X' desktop is lab12:1
Your password is encrypted and saved in ~/.vnc/password. You may modify the file ~/.vnc/xstartup to your personal X startup settings. If you do so, you have to stop the current vncserver and start a new one for it to take effect.

To stop a vncserver, run vncserver -kill server_name For example, the command

     vncserver -kill lab12:1
will stop the server I created in the above example.

vncserver will not prompt you for a password in future invocations. It uses your password saved in ~/.vnc/passwd.

Run vncviewer from a windows computer.

First, you need to download the vncviewer to your windows machine. The binary is about 150k, a local copy is avaliable from here. The simplest method to download this file is to open a browser (IE or netscape), visit this page and click on this download link. When it prompts to save the downloads, save it in C:\vncviewer.exe.

To run it, just type vncviewer from a shell window, or double click its icon in a file browser, or run it from start->run and enter C:\vncviewer.exe in the command entry.

When vncviewer starts, it will prompt you for a server and password. For the server created above, the name is

To run matlab on a remote desktop, type the command


in a command window.