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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client Pick of the Week
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[Score: 7 out of 10]
With five Macs scattered around our home, I spend a fair bit of time accessing all of them for various reasons -- testing hints, looking for something on one of them, even just installing software updates. For these tasks, I rely on both file sharing and full remote GUI control. For remote control, up until very recently I've been using the built-in VNC server (see this hint), and Chicken of the VNC (CotVNC; a previous PotW winner) as the client. But a few weeks back, I stumbled on JollysFastVNC, and ever since (with an exception as noted below), it's become my VNC client of choice. Why? Because it's amazingly fast.

How fast? I was going to record a movie to demonstrate the differences, but then realized that the developer, Patrick Stein, has already done just that, in this post on his "teclog." As you can see, there's really no comparison -- JollysFastVNC is really, really fast. Not only that, but it uses substantially less CPU while being notably faster. It's actually possible to watch a remote QuickTime movie using JollysFastVNC; that's something I'd long ago given up on with CotVNC.

Another thing I like about JollysFastVNC is that you can scale the server's display -- as you resize the JollysFastVNC window, the display scales to match the window's new size. CotVNC displays cannot be scaled. This means I can open a window and shrink it down, still large enough to see (when a download finishes, for instance), but not so large that it covers my screen.

JollysFastVNC isn't nearly as polished or feature-rich as CotVNC, but it's under constant and rapid development, with bug fixes and new features coming at regular intervals. That's why I've only given it a "7" on the rating scale, even though I think it's a great program and I use it regularly. You may find that the missing features and bugs in the current version make it unsuitable for current use (Patrick describes it as an alpha, meaning that some things don't work, new features are coming, but it shouldn't crash). For me, the only time I revert to CotVNC is when I have to connect to my main machine, with its two displays. CotVNC displays the windows at full size in a window with scroll bars, which works out all right. JollysFastVNC, however, scales both displays to fit in one window. If I'm on the MacBook Pro, the end result is an unreadable screen, as its size has been so greatly scaled down.

Other than that one issue, though, JollysFastVNC has supplanted CotVNC for my typical remote control duties -- its raw speed is simply amazing (and as most any racer will tell you, speed is addictive!). If you spend a lot of time working with remote Macs, give it a shot.
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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client | 21 comments | Create New Account
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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: rasman1978 on Sep 05, '07 07:51:27AM

Any idea how it compares to Leopard's "Screen Sharing.app"? I've been pretty happy with SS.app in Leopard beta. Its only fault is that it doesn't allow a "view only" mode, so if a coworker wants to show me something on his screen, I have to be careful not to move his mouse.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: diamondsw on Sep 05, '07 08:03:02AM
If you're going to use VNC on Mac OS X, make sure you're using a decent server first. The built-in one doesn't support any recent encodings, compression algorithms, or server-side scaling, and can be very finicky with other VNC clients.

Instead, grab the free Vine Server, which is set-and-forget, and has all of the above features and more: http://www.redstonesoftware.com/products/vine/server/vineosx/index.html

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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: bfr00 on Sep 05, '07 09:02:59AM

Tried it connecting to a client's machine across a VPN.

I see no speed improvements over ChickenVNC. It's just choppier looking.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: sayler on Sep 05, '07 09:50:30AM

"Tried it connecting to a client's machine across a VPN.
I see no speed improvements over ChickenVNC. It's just choppier looking."

CotVNC has always seemed very CPU-limited -- even when on a LAN <-> LAN connection between two fast machines it felt pretty laggy (not to knock CotVNC -- in general I like it a lot).

Over a WAN VPN, you're probably bandwidth-limited. I've never used it, but a previous commenter talked about the Vine VNC server for OS X, which apparently support more types of encoding than the built-in VNC server.. If your remote machine is OS X you might give it a whirl? Better encodings can mean less bandwidth needed.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: robg on Sep 05, '07 12:32:05PM

Indeed, if you're seeing the same speed, then you're network-limited, not application-limited. I was testing over a gigabit internal network, just to insure that the network was *not* the bottleneck.

-rob.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: joshturse on Sep 05, '07 12:56:57PM

I have the same experience - it's actually slower than CotVNC with the built-in server over an SSH tunnel. I was blaming this on the number of colors - with CotVNC I can set the numbers of colors to thousands and couldn't find a way to do this in Jolly?

I will try both with Vine though, instead, as some of the other posts have recommended.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: tersono on Sep 05, '07 09:51:42AM

I pretty much live in VNC (I'm a systems admin and spend a lot of time remoted into a wide range of both Mac and Windows computers), so tried it earlier today at work. Worked briefly logged into a remote server then crashed and burned - wouldn't reconnect without crashing again.

For the brief period it worked, it didn't feel appreciably faster than CotVNC.

I'll maybe try it again when it matures a bit, but it's certainly not ready for prime time yet.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: snit on Sep 05, '07 10:50:17AM

Is there a way to send a Control-Alt-Delete with the application? In a quick look I did not see one. Odd.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: RevJoel on Sep 06, '07 09:50:21AM

Great Question! A good VNC client allows you to log in to the remote machine. :)



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Faster than CotVNC over 802.11n Airport Express
Authored by: makip on Sep 05, '07 06:43:54PM

I use CotVNC to remotely access a Mac mini configured as a media centre. The mini has a Gigabit Ethernet connection and my Macbook Pro access it via the faster 802.11n protocol through an Airport.
I can confirm CotVNC is very choppy in comparison to using JollyFastVNC - Jolly even displays the 720p USB TV tuner footage in much better, close to watchable state. I'm impressed with access through Jolly, overall GUI response is better.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: nomad00 on Sep 05, '07 07:31:25PM

I just happened upon this while looking for an alternative to CotVNC.
I haven't gotten to test it out on a wired network, but connecting wirelessly from my Powerbook to my Ubuntu box is significantly faster w/ Jollys then w/ CotVNC, amazingly so.
Thanks!



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All depends on a good server
Authored by: maggard on Sep 05, '07 09:02:59PM

Tiger’s VNC server is borked, so whatever client you’re using is still stuck dealing with Apple’s half-assed VNC implementation.

Instead another vote for the free Vine Server. Stable, much faster, better VNC interoperability.

Neatest feature for me? It support ‘background’ logins, so multiple users can be simultaneously using the same Mac in their own desktops.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: coljac on Sep 05, '07 09:13:55PM

JollyFast does seem to be quicker - I'll definitely use it occasionally. In some cases I like the way it scales the screen, in other cases not; and in full screen mode, it seems to keep meta-keys for itself, how do I send command-F to a remote application?

One thing it doesn't do (that CotV does to me) is get the mouse buttons confused. Nice.

I've tried Vine too and can recommend it. It's a shame there's no clipboard sharing in system server mode.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: msadesign on Sep 08, '07 06:40:11AM

Could someone tell me the difference between Timbuktu, which I've used for years to control remote macs, and VNC? I get the platform independence but is there a difference in functionality?



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: JohnnyO on Sep 15, '07 06:21:00PM

VNC is usually free, which Timbuktu is a Commerical product.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: leamanc on Sep 21, '07 10:57:37AM

VNC is generally limited to screen-sharing and a few other limited features, depending on the server and client (sharing of clipboards, etc.).

Timbuktu has a few more features, like using Skype to find machines on the Internet, the ability to use Timbuktu accounts or accounts defined on the computer, chat, the ability to push-install itself on machines with SSH enabled, and a few more things.

As someone else mentioned, Timbuktu is a commercial product, so you have to pay for it. You get more, but personally I find its screen-sharing on a Mac very, very slow since OS X. It used to be speedy on OS 9, but is very slow compared to any VNC server on a Mac OS X box.



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Another fast client
Authored by: bonkydooky on Sep 10, '07 09:21:54AM

I don't know how it compares to JollysFastVNC, but I found that VNCDimension is a fair bit faster than ChickenOfTheVNC also.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: jocamero on Oct 08, '07 09:27:30AM

Has anyone tried the Enterprise viewer from RealVNC? It's free and I've found it to works far better and much faster than Chicken or Jolly. Although it's buried in their website is IS FREE.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: palahala on Nov 07, '07 11:29:19PM

Though it is not protected using some activation code, it is NOT free for use with non-RealVNC servers.



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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: marxy on Nov 07, '07 07:51:57PM
I notice that there is an excellent VNC client built right in to Leopard. Some notes on how to use it here.

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JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client
Authored by: verrami on Nov 30, '07 02:01:47PM

I am unable to use right-click options with any of the keyboard settings. I am connecting to a Linux server but unable to use right-click options. Can anyone help me with this? Thanks.



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