[TUHS] X->VNC->RDP experience [was Re: X, Suntools, and the like

Charles H Sauer sauer at technologists.com
Sat Mar 18 07:39:00 AEST 2017

It has been almost 20 years since I seriously used X remotely. Even then it 
was mostly xterms. Almost everything I do in Linux is from bash. I run X 
locally mostly if I'm trying to figure out how a new release of Fedora has 
changed configuration files -- I run the settings apps to see what they do 
to the files. What follows is a bit off-topic from TUHS perspective.

About 1999 I began to need to administer a bunch of Windows servers, mostly 
on a local network, sometimes across town, sometimes farther away. I 
gravitated to using VNC for Windows and soon used it occasionally for Linux 
and, eventually, OS X. My primary desktop environment became Windows, using 
PuTTY for ssh.

Back then, my remote access was mostly across POTS (56k) and BRI (128k) 

Since then, I've tried most of the Windows clients and servers. For my 
purposes UltraVNC (uvnc.com) is much superior to the others. The client is 
robust across remote connections using ssh tunnels. The server was the first 
to work reasonably on Vista and tends to keep up with Microsoft better than 
the others, in my experience. Tiger (Tight) was my second favorite(s), and I 
still use them occasionally, mostly on older machines that I setup before 
using Ultra.

The biggest VNC drawbacks from my perspective have been
- security (alleviated by ssh tunneling)
- lack of macOS versions as robust as UltraVNC on Windows
- Windows with RDP interfering with VNC server

With recent macOS, Apple includes a pretty good basic VNC client, “Screen 
Sharing”, and a very good VNC server as “Apple Remote Desktop”. Screen 
Sharing doesn’t feel as responsive as the better clients on Windows, e.g., 
TightVNC and UltraVNC, and omits refresh options and other useful features. 
(Reportedly, there are plans for UltraVNC for macOS. There is a Java version 
of TightVNC that will run on macOS, but overall doesn’t seem as responsive 
as Screen Sharing. I just discovered while writing this that there is a 
TigerVNC dmg, so I plan to try that.)

When I upgraded an XP Pro machine to Vista Pro, I discovered that Vista Pro 
wouldn't allow the UltraVNC server to run. That forced me to get acquainted 
with RDP, and I was pleasantly surprised.

I knew that RDP had existed, but also knew that RDP was based on ITU-T 
T.128. With all the complexity associated with T.120, I had stayed away from 
RDP. (20+ years ago I wrote a chapter in Mainstream Videoconferencing, 
trying to make T.120 more accessible than the ITU-T docs. The T.128 doc is 
at http://www.itu.int/rec/T-REC-T.128-200806-I/en.)

T.120 work started when the principals assumed that videoconferencing over 
POTS (H.324) would become prominent, and T.120 was intended to work on POTS 
connections. So it is not surprising to think of RDP as "snappy" on cascaded 
WiFi connections.

I use RDP quite a bit to access Windows machines that don't allow/interfere 
with UltraVNC server. (Just now I tried to get UltraVNC server to work on a 
machine running Windows 10 Pro, and failed.)

Besides that Windows VNC interference, the main disadvantage of RDP in my 
experience is lack of (freely available?) servers for Windows Home, macOS 
and Linux.

When my primary Windows laptop failed, I decided to try a MacBook Pro. 
Mostly I've liked it and have liked the RDP client. Some people disparage 
the (Microsoft supplied) RDP client as inferior to the Windows client. The 
specifics of their complaints don't matter on my MacBook, but I can imagine 
they would be bothersome on an iMac or other larger screen.


-----Original Message----- 
From: Larry McVoy
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2017 11:21 AM
To: Arthur Krewat
Cc: tuhs at minnie.tuhs.org
Subject: Re: [TUHS] X, Suntools, and the like

On Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 10:39:21AM -0400, Arthur Krewat wrote:
> On 3/16/2017 8:13 PM, Larry McVoy wrote:
> >I'd be stoked if X11 had an RDP extension or something. I have no idea if
> >that makes sense but RDP is the shit.
> Check out VNC - you run a "server" on the remote side, and the VNC client
> on
> the client side. The advantage is that everything you run stays running on
> the remote side.

Unless VNC has evolved it's just nowhere near as snappy as RDP.  Can anyone
speak to that? 

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