JollysFastVNC - A speedy VNC client

Sep 05, '07 07:30:05AM

Contributed by: robg

The macosxhints Rating:

[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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