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TightVNC Documentation [Win32]

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Warning: The document below does not apply to TightVNC 2.0 and later versions.

Contents

Installation

TightVNC is available as a self-installing setup executable. Just run it, and you will see a familiar installation wizard which will allow you to read the installation notes, choose the target directory, set installation options and so on.

After the setup program is finished, new "TightVNC" section will appear in the Start->Programs menu. If you would like to have TightVNC started automatically and run even while there is no user logged in, you should install it as a system service using the corresponding menu item from the TightVNC Administration section. Note that installing the WinVNC service is the only way to make Ctrl-Alt-Del work remotely (applicable only to Windows NT/2000/XP systems).

TightVNC defaults to install to the Program Files\TightVNC directory, but you can choose any other location during the installation. Note that TightVNC does not install anything in the system directory so an alternative way to install TightVNC is to just copy the executable and DLL files into any directory you like (but in this case you'll have to create shortcuts to the programs manually).

If you want to install TightVNC on a number of computers, and do not want to repeatedly enter the same password on each machine, install TightVNC once and set the password, then copy the registry settings to other computers. TightVNC settings can be found in the following sections in the registry:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\ORL\WinVNC3
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ORL\WinVNC3

The TightVNC installer can work in silent mode and not ask questions during installation (but it's possible that it might show message boxes if there are any errors). In this mode TightVNC will be installed into the default directory, that is, the TightVNC subdirectory in the Program Files). Here is the command line to install TightVNC in silent mode:

tightvnc-1.3.10-setup.exe /sp- /verysilent

Remote Upgrade

TightVNC servers can be upgraded remotely. This means that you can perform the TightVNC installation working in an active TightVNC session. While the TightVNC service is running, it's impossible to replace its executable files in place, so the installer will copy new files into a temporary location, and these new files will replace older versions during the next reboot. The installer will prompt for reboot if it was not able to replace the executables.

Before using this feature, you should read and understand the following:

  • Remote upgrade requires rebooting the computer. If you want to be able to access your computer after the reboot, make sure you're running WinVNC as a service, not in the application mode.
  • If you're running WinVNC service from some another VNC distribution, this installation procedure won't replace it with the TightVNC service by default. This is a limitation that may be solved in future versions. However, there is a way to perform such an upgrade: install TightVNC into the same directory where old VNC files (WinVNC.exe and VNCHooks.dll) are installed. In this case, old binaries will be replaced by the new ones during the reboot, and there will be no need to re-install the service. Please note that the installer should show you the reboot prompt at the end of the installation, otherwise you probably selected wrong installation directory.
  • There is a number of things that can prevent the machine to reboot correctly, and that can cause losing the control over the computer. In other words, there is NO WARRANTY that the remote upgrade procedure is absolutely reliable. To minimize possible risks, close all the running applications (besides the WinVNC service itself) before launching the TightVNC installer.

Getting Started

TightVNC, like normal VNC, has two parts: the Server (also referred to as WinVNC), which shares the screen of the machine it's running on, and the Viewer which shows the remote screen received from the server. So to get started, you need to run a server on the machine you want to access remotely, and connect to it with a viewer. TightVNC distribution for Windows includes both the server and viewer parts.

Running a Server (WinVNC)

TightVNC Server can be started in one of the two ways:

  • as an application (for current user only);
  • as a Windows service (system-wide operation).

In the application mode, the server can be running only during the current user session, and will close on the logout. To start WinVNC in the application mode, choose Start->Programs->TightVNC->Launch TightVNC Server.

To make a machine accessible even while there is no user logged in, and to make the server start automatically on reboot, the TightVNC Server should be running as a system service. To install it as a service, choose Start->Programs->TightVNC->Administration->Install VNC Service. In Windows 95/98/ME that will start the service immediately, while in Windows NT/2000/XP you'll have to start the service manually from the Control Panel or from the command line (net start winvnc). In any case, it will be started automatically on the next system reboot. Note that if the VNC service was started manually, you may have to run Start->Programs->TightVNC->Administration->Run Service Helper, to make WinVNC display its tray icon (see below).

Regardless of the way TightVNC Server was started, it will show the Properties window on the first startup, to let you enter the passwords you will use in the viewer to access the machine. Until a password is set, TightVNC will not accept incoming network connections.

In the default configuration, each user can have his/her own separate WinVNC password, bit also there is a special default password used when no user password is available (e.g when nobody is logged in, or if no user password was set). Note: there is no any predefined default password in TightVNC, machine-wide password is called "default" just because it's used when there are no user-specific passwords available.

To set the user password, just access the Properties dialog from the menu, as described below. If you would like to set the default password, run Start->Programs->TightVNC->Administration->Show Default Settings. Note: The caption of the Properties dialog shows either "Current User Properties" or "Default Local System Properties", depending on which set of settings is edited.

On successful startup, TightVNC will add a small icon to the tray in the system task bar (notification area). The icon has white background if there are no viewers connected, and inverted colors when at least one viewer accesses the desktop. Moving the mouse over this icon shows the IP address of the machine (which can be entered in the remote viewer to access the server).

[tray icon]
A normal icon of the TightVNC Server
[tray icon]
Mouse over the icon shows IP addresses
[tray icon]
Hint showing that TightVNC is
running as a system service
[tray icon]
Icon is shown in inverted colors
when viewers are connected
[tray icon]
Red border indicates that new
client connections are disabled
[tray icon]
Hint showing the reason for
disabling client connections

Right-clicking on the tray icon will bring up a menu:

[tray menu]
Menu of the TightVNC Server

The following menu commands are available:

  • Properties... - This will cause the Properties dialog to be displayed, allowing the user to change various parameters of the TightVNC Server. This dialog will also be displayed on double-clicking the tray icon.
  • Add New Client... - This allows outgoing connections to be made from the server to a viewer started in the "listening" mode. The name of the target viewer machine and optional display number can be entered in the dialog. Connections created this way are treated as shared. Such so called "reverse connections" can also be initiated from the command line using the -connect option.
  • Kill All Clients - This will disconnect all currently connected clients from the server.
  • Disable New Clients - This will temporarily disable new client connection to the server. Choose the same menu item to re-enable new client connections. Note that this mode is not restored on restarting the server.
  • About... - Show information about the software.
  • Close TightVNC Server - Quit.

Running a Viewer

To view and control a remote desktop where a TightVNC Server is running, you need to run the TightVNC Viewer. To run the viewer, choose Start->Programs->TightVNC->TightVNC Viewer. You will see a window allowing to choose which server to connect to.

[dialog]
"New Connection" dialog window

After entering the host name or its IP address (and optionally a display number), choose "Connect". On successful connection, you will be prompted for your password, and if the entered password is correct, finally you should see the remote desktop.

Alternatively, you can start the viewer in the listening mode, by using the correspoding button in the "New Connection" window. In that mode, the viewer's icon will appear in the system tray, and it will accept reverse connections from TightVNC servers (see above the description of the WinVNC "Add New Client" menu item).

In the "New Connection" window, you can use built-in context help. To get help on using a particular control, first click small question button in the window title bar, then click on that control. Another way to obtain context help is to press F1 key while the keyboard focus is in the corresponding control.

[help instructions]
Using context help
[contex help text]
The resulting help window

Using a Web Browser as a Viewer

The VNC servers also contain a small Web server. If you connect to it with a web browser, the Java version of the viewer will be downloaded automatically, allowing you to access the remote desktop. Obviously, your Web browser must support Java applets. Also, you should not use a proxy, to let the Java applet access the remote server directly.

The server listens for HTTP connections on port 5800 + display number. (Remember a WinVNC machine defaults to the display 0.) So to connect to the display 2 on machine "myhost", you would point your web browser at: http://myhost:5802/ . The applet will prompt you for your password, and should then display the desktop.

Uninstalling TightVNC

TightVNC can be uninstalled using the Add/Remove Programs utility under the Control Panel, but it's also ok to remove the directory you have installed it into (typically, C:\Program Files\TightVNC). Note that the TightVNC installation program does not copy any files into the system directory. Before uninstalling TightVNC, make sure WinVNC is not running and not installed as a service.

References

For additional information on installation and configuration, see the main documentation page and the TightVNC FAQ.

If you would like to compile the source yourself, please read instructions in the BUILDING.txt file included in the source archive.

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