Friday, March 04, 2011

VNC iPad (client) to FreeBSD (server)

I've been using iTeleport on my iPad for some time and it's a great VNC client.
I can very easily see and manipulate, right from my iPad, OS X on my MacBook, Ubuntu on my Desktop, Windows XP on my Desktop and even Haiku on the same Desktop. In each case I can see the exact screen that appears on my Desktop or laptop.
I've never had a problem with it until, that is, I tried to connect to FreeBSD 8.2 on my Dell E520.
First, I installed TightVNC from /usr/ports/net/tightvnc and then I configured iTeleport to connect to FreeBSD (this involves including just three parameters in the configuration: the IP of the FreeBSD computer -- 192.168.x.y -- as it's on the same LAN, the port normally used in VNC connection which is 5900 and the password for the FreeBSD VNC server which I set using the passwd command.
However, this did NOT connect and immediately presented an error message saying the connection had been refused (and maybe a firewall is preventing connection -- however, I'm not using a firewall in FreeBSD).
Strangely, just changing the port to 5901 gives me a connection. Even more strange, however, I don't get what I expect -- or what I get with all the other OSes -- but just an xterm.
And I can only type in the xterm if the I move the cursor arrow into the terminal first.
Luckily, this is exactly the behaviour described in this 2002 blog post. However, no mention is made as to why the connection behaves so differently from other OSes.
Now, the FreeBSD Diary post explains how to open KDE in the VNC client and this works perfectly for me by making the change as described to xstartup.
However, I don't, and have never, used KDE on my FreeBSD Desktop install. I use Gnome.
But, I just couldn't get Gnome to start even trying "startx", "gdm start", "startgdm" and "startxdm" in xstartup.
Nevertheless, KDE worked after a fashion. Most of the icons I had on my Desktop, showed up on the iPad but the AWN dock.
did not.
Essentially, therefore, I was restricted to using either the Midori browser or a terminl in FreeBSD on my iPad. Even though I make this sound like as complaint, I'm actually pretty pleased with it.
Nevertheless, I don't understand why I can't just see, straight off, the FreeBSD Desktop just as I can with all other OSes with which I can make a iTeleport VNC connection.
Think I'll post to the FreeBSD forum about this.

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