Jan 01 2013

Ditching Vino for X11vnc

Category: Systemsjgoulah @ 2:07 PM

I’d been using gnome vino as a VNC server for years on my media computer. This way I can use touchpad to control it from my iPad. It works fine, but a little bit clunky and badly documented, plus its tied directly to gnome. The other day I woke up to a filled drive (~2TB) of vino errors. I killed it off and cleaned up the error log file and tried to start it up again. No go this time due to some startup errors. This isn’t the first time I’ve fought with it, surely something better exists.

This led me to X11vnc. A bit of fresh air its fairly easy to setup and get going very quickly. I’ll first show how to do it manually and then present my open sourced chef cookbook.

Manual Install

First thing is to install it:

sudo apt-get install x11vnc

Setup a password file:

sudo x11vnc -storepasswd YOUR_PASS_HERE /etc/x11vnc.pass

Create an upstart config:

sudo touch /etc/init/x11vnc.conf

Open it and put this into it:

start on login-session-start
script
x11vnc -xkb -noxrecord -noxfixes -noxdamage -display :0 -rfbauth /etc/x11vnc.pass \
 -auth /var/run/lightdm/root/:0 -forever -bg -o /var/log/x11vnc.log
end script

and start it up:

sudo service x11vnc start

Simple, easy, and just works.

Chef Cookbook

Naturally, I ported this to a chef cookbook which you can find here. I have to admit I’m not totally happy with it yet, mainly because it doesn’t restart x11vnc on config changes. In some cases such as our production servers, we actually prefer this so that we don’t accidentally roll out a broken config change and have an auto-restart bring everything to its knees (there are some ways to avoid this but thats another post). In any case on my home computer I prefer it to restart if I make changes, but I’m struggling to get upstart to stop the process correctly due to what seems to be some disassociation with its pid file. The other thing is the recipe currently assumes you are using Ubuntu or something similar, but can easily be extended. Hope this helps someone else out there!

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