VNC is here to stay so you might as well pull up a chair and familiarize yourself with some options. There’s an arsenal of server tools available for Mac OS X and it’s only logical that Apple ponied up and gave us the ability to manage other Macs and Mac Severs with a VNC client. It’s also only logical that each mac would have a built in VNC server and a VNC client package that lets you maintain both your Apple and Non-Apple computers on a network. It’s symbiotic and I love it.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what VNC is… well, it’s a technology that lets you share one computer desktop from another desktop. Essentially you can see the remote desktop as if you were sitting right in front of that machine. It’s a really handy tool, and I’d recommend you check it out if you haven’t as of yet.
The first of the three options is Screen Sharing. It would only make sense that we top off the list with Apple’s product, we are a Mac blog after all. Screen Sharing is one of those applications that is buried deep in the filesystem, but it’s likely that you’ve used it before if you’ve tried to connect to other systems in Finder’s sidebar. You can find it by going to ‘/System/Library/CoreServices/‘ tracking down Screen Sharing then dragging it to your sidebar. If you’re on a Mac only network then this baby is the only tool you’ll be needing in your arsenal. It’s streamlined, and it lets you get the job done. But, if you’re planning on administering any Windows Servers then you might need to forgo the Screen Sharing utility for one of the following two options. One of the best things about this particular application is that it lets you copy the remote clipboard (where the data goes when you copy/paste files) to the local machine so that you can manage certain things easily. I really wish we had the ability to copy and paste files across the machines by dragging and dropping files into the screen viewer but we don’t seem to be there yet.
Chicken of the VNC
Long before Apple’s Screen Sharing application existed there was a lone gunman on the scene and its name was Chicken of the VNC. I have no Idea why the heck they decided to use a name like Chicken of the VNC, but it’s a good thing that names aren’t indicative of the quality of an application. It’s pretty light weight, much like the Screen Sharing app, but it offers up a valuable alternative for those trying to connect to Windows servers. In my experience Chicken of the VNC has always been a little bit snappier over WAN connections, and over LAN ScreenSharing seems to be the quicker of the two. It could be coincidence, and it certainly could be a fabrication of my mind, but if I’m on the road and need to dial home to a server then Chicken of the VNC gets launched. You’ll want to do your own test, and I’d really love to hear if you have the same results as I have. Feel free to debunk it as myth, you won’t hurt my ego.
Remote Desktop Connection
If you’re primarily a Windows network with only a couple Macs kicking around for your marketing departments or stubborn design group then you’ll want to make sure they have access to Remote Desktop Connection. The program is designed by Microsoft to ensure that Macs can connect to a Windows server without a hitch. I’m surprised that they’ve even ventured down this road, but I’m really thankful that they have. It means less time cursing ScreenSharing’s poor Windows Server support, and that’s something we can all get behind.
So, as you can see, once again it’s about having the right tools for the right job, and when it comes to VNC you might find yourself relying on a handful of tools to accomplish the same thing, but on different architectures. You might be able to get away with relying on only one of these applications, but I’d be sure to have the others readily available, you never know when you’ll need something that’s not supported by your favourite VNC viewer.
Have I missed anything, or do you have an application that works better than these three? Sound off in the comments, I’d love it if I could cut back on the applications I’m using, and instead only carry one VNC client in my arsenal.