Thursday, July 31, 2008

VNC from Ubuntu-mac (client) to Kurumin-dell (server)

I had this problem some time ago where I could not VNC from Ubuntu-mac (vino-server) to Kurumin-dell (krfb-kde4). Tried again today with the same negative result.
Then I thought that perhaps it was a kde thing so I tried with Sidux-mac (Kde 3.5.9) which also uses krfb. In Sidux, however, opening krfb results in a dialog box opening which allows you to create invitations. This gives you a password to pass on to the invitee which can then be used to complete the connection. Now I could connect from Kurumin (client) to Sidux (server) but not the other way around. This seems entirely because the krfb dialog doesn't open (although krfb does run) so invitations can't be created.

OK, so maybe it's a KDE4.1 thing. So, I changed session in Kurumin and changed to KDE 3.5.9. For this I had to install krfb (KDE 4.1 uses krfb-kde4). Now krfb does open a dialog box (but seemingly only from a terminal and not from Adept). This then allows creating invitations. So, I invited Sidux as client to connect to Kurumin server. Th connection was briefly made but then krfb crashed (I tried this several times, always with the same result). But, it was progress of a sort. I posted to the Kurumin forum which provides more details.

I got one reply from this post which didn't actually address the problem but recommended that instead of VNC, that I use NXServer to make these connections.
So, I thought I'd give it a try.
First I looked at the freenx home site and tried to install the package from here. But the instructions are poorly presented so I gave up.
Next I came across this blog which outlines an alternative (and more understandable install method) but this too failed for me during the make step.
Then I found this Ubuntu Community document which provides basically everything I needed.

So I set about setting up Kurumin-Dell as the server with Ubuntu-mac as the client and these are the steps:
1. Include the debs in /etc/apt/sources.list (note that I had to use the feisty repos as the freenx stuff seems to have been removed from the Gutsy repo)
2. Get the key, update and install freenx
3. Use these commands as shown in the guide

sudo nxserver --adduser
sudo nxserver --passwd
sudo nxserver --restart

4. NXserver appears to start but there's no indication of this if you run ps -e
5. Change the listening port as instructed in "Configure ssh"
6. Install nxclient on the client (Ubuntu-mac). Here there was a complaint about libstdc++2.10-glibc2.2_2.95.4-27. However, I found the deb for this here and I installed it. Thereafter the nxclient installed fine.
7.Now I tried to connect from the client to the server through NXserver by starting the client with
/usr/NX/bin/nxclient &

This opened up a small dialog box. Here I clicked the configure button where I entered the host IP ( -- as the hostname didn't work for me) and the Key (8888) that I had already assigned in an earlier step. However, after adding the password, although a connection was made it broke almost immediately.
8. I googled around and found here that the answer is to add this line
AGENT_EXTRA_OPTIONS_X="-fp /usr/share/fonts/X11/misc/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/Type1/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/75dpi/,/usr/share/fonts/X11/100dpi"

to /etc/nxserver/node.conf on the server.
9. Now I could make the connection without problems.

One difference with VNC is that NXserver appears more like the RDP system to connect to Windows. This is because the while client can see clearly the server screen, the server user sees nothing of what the client user is doing.
Nevertheless, it does work well and is worth exploring further.

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