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This page documents a new script - farmvnc - which has been introduced with the upgrade to Ubuntu 13.04 in mid-2013. The steps involved in setting up VNC on Farmshare are largely the same as the previous VNC instructions, but with substitution of farmvnc script instead of vncserver.

first steps

  • check that you have your AFS tokens or else things will fail because they can't write to your homedir
 kinit && aklog
  • set your vnc password if you haven't already

This VNC password is for the VNC connections only. It's stored in a file in your homedir so it's best to use a different password for this. Don't use your SUNetID password.

  • load the farmvnc module
 module load farmvnc

Note: you can save a set of modules to load at login using the 'module save' command. See 'module help' for more information.

running farmvnc

First, run farmvnc to see what resolutions are supported:

$ module load farmvnc
$ farmvnc
please give desired resolution on command line:
for example: farmvnc 1440x900

you can choose any of the following

I am using a macbook air 13" so I will choose 1440x900 so that full screen vnc will match with native mac resolution.

$ module load farmvnc
$ farmvnc 1440x900
using display 1
Initializing built-in extension Generic Event Extension
Initializing built-in extension SHAPE
Initializing built-in extension MIT-SHM
Initializing built-in extension XInputExtension
Initializing built-in extension XTEST
Initializing built-in extension BIG-REQUESTS
Initializing built-in extension SYNC
Initializing built-in extension XKEYBOARD
Initializing built-in extension XC-MISC
Initializing built-in extension SECURITY
Initializing built-in extension XINERAMA
Initializing built-in extension XFIXES
Initializing built-in extension RENDER
Initializing built-in extension RANDR
Initializing built-in extension COMPOSITE
Initializing built-in extension DAMAGE
Initializing built-in extension MIT-SCREEN-SAVER
Initializing built-in extension DOUBLE-BUFFER
Initializing built-in extension RECORD
Initializing built-in extension DPMS
Initializing built-in extension X-Resource
Initializing built-in extension XVideo
Initializing built-in extension XVideo-MotionCompensation
Initializing built-in extension SELinux
Initializing built-in extension XFree86-VidModeExtension
Initializing built-in extension XFree86-DGA
Initializing built-in extension XFree86-DRI
Initializing built-in extension DRI2
Loading extension GLX

# Mac and Linux users
# run this command in another window to setup the SSH tunnel
# ssh -L 5901:localhost:5911
# Windows users
# use these values in SS-VNC
# VNC Host Display: localhost:11
# Proxy/Gateway:

The VNC desktop is:      localhost:11

At this point the VNC server is running on a specific corn. The next step is to set up an SSH tunnel so that the vnc client that we need to run on your desktop/laptop can connect to the vncserver.

If you are running linux or macos on your laptop/desktop I would suggest cutting and pasting the ssh command that is displayed in the output of farmvnc into a new terminal window. For example I would run this command (keep in mind that the username and port numbers will change from what is written here).


ssh -L 5901:localhost:5911


For windows, cut and paste the SS-VNC config from above into the appropriate spots

VNC Host Display: localhost:11

choice of vnc client

Ubuntu 13.04 desktop makes use of 3D effects. You can turn some of these effects off, however, you are going to want a reasonably good VNC client. We suggest turboVNC if it is available to you. For Windows, SS-VNC does it tunnel for you so for the moment we recommend using it instead of TurboVNC.


You can get MobaXterm from:

You can get turboVNC from:

You can get SS-VNC from:



MAC: Launch turbovnc and type in localhost:5901

Linux: /opt/TurboVNC/bin/vncviewer -highqual -encodings "tight copyrect" localhost:5901

Windows MobaXterm: Start up Mobaxterm, open a local terminal, and copy and paste the 'ssh -L 5901:localhost:59XX <sunetid>' line that is output from the farmvnc command. Then start a VNC session and connect to localhost port 5901, and authenticate with your VNC password.

Windows SS-VNC: launch SS-VNC and enter settings, make sure you copy exactly, if you put just the port number on the top line, it probably won't work.

Type in your vnc password that you set in previous step.

You should see an Ubuntu desktop environment that looks something like this

reconnecting vnc client

If you login to FarmShare again, you can discover your vnc sessions by running listfarmvncsessions as in:

$ module load farmvnc
$ listfarmvncsessions 
active vnc session:
    ssh -L 5901:localhost:5911

    Vnc Host:Display    localhost:11

Logging out


When you are done with your VNC session and you want to shut everything down. Select Logout from the menu in upper right of your screen.



Wait for a few seconds while the logout screen fades in (takes around 5-10 seconds)

Click the logout icon and you should see turboVNC say closed connection.

Another way you can "log out" is by simply killing all your processes on that corn machine. E.g. log in to that corn and say "kill all processes owned by me":

 ssh cornXX
 kill -1 -1 

That will kill all your processes on that machine including your SSH connection, so you'll get disconnected immediately.

older instructions

If you have any trouble with the above, try the older instructions:

other instructions

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