« If Emacs is broken under under Leopard, time to reinstall | Home | Changing my Kindle order to next-day delivery moves me up the list »

November 12, 2007

Leopard's built-in VNC server doesn't quite work

Mac OS 10.5 has a VNC server built in to allow remote access back to your Mac.  Many sites have claimed that standard VNC clients will work with Mac OS VNC.

Well, that may be true for some people, but I haven't been able to connect  back to my Mac outside of my local network using Apple's built-in server. 

It worked fine from a Windows machine on the local network.  But outside my network - no go. I tried opening port 5900 across my Buffalo home router.  I tried RealVNC and TightVNC, both from a Windows XP system, and both would let me get to a password prompt, but then died promptly. I tried tunneling port 5900 across an SSH connection to my Mac. I tried squinting and chanting "Apple is my friend."  Nothing worked. 

My solution was to download the Vine Server VNC server from Redstone Software.  I configured it to use a different port to avoid conflicting with Apple VNC server.  Vine Server is free.

It works very well. Vine Server also pays attention to other VNC options that Apple's server doesn't - it will work with 8 bit color, for example, which is important for speeding up the connection. 

I also went in and turned off the Dock animations.  (I wish there was a way to do that automatically when logging in via VNC.)

It still doesn't work as nicely as Remote Desktop does for the PC, but it's a good start.


Thanks for your post. I was wondering if you have had any updates since the entry.

Have you found any other solutions for XP to VNC a 10.5 Mac? I'd like to VNC from a PC to a Mac running Parallels and reach the virtual copy of XP on the Mac.

I had an issue with this as well. The problem is that you aren't using option "Full (all available colours)". For some reason Leopard doesn't recognize less colors over vnc so it just kicks you out. Before signing on try switching to the full colors option and you should but good. By the way its rediculously slow over internet, even broadband.

Ah, thanks TKid! "Color level: Full" worked like a charm.

I like it very much, thanks!!!