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Many CHG users now use VNC as their preferred virtual Unix desktop. VNC is similar to NX in that it is a virtual desktop hosted on rain where you have access to a graphical /home environment as well as the ability to open terminals to SSH to other servers in the CHG Unix environment.

Getting Started

[Email Libby] and let her know you'd like to use VNC. She will set you up with a VNC port number and let you know what it is. Then, SSH into rain as yourself and enter the command

[[user]@rain ~]# vncpasswd

This is the password you will use for accessing VNC, along with your port number. This password is different than your password to log on to rain.

Windows Users

Download TightVNC here. Choose the 32-bit or 64-bit version based on your operating system. If you are not sure, ask Libby. When installing, make sure that you uncheck the option for VNCserver. You only need the VNC Viewer client.

Once installed, open TightVNC and enter[vnc port number] into the VNC Server field, then enter your VNC password when prompted.

Mac Users

In Finder, hit Command+K, then enter vnc://[username][your vnc port number] into the server field, then enter your VNC password.


Copy & Paste

If you're having trouble copying and pasting in your VNC session, type

[[user]@rain ~]# vncconfig &

into a terminal within your VNC session and keep the resulting VNC Config window open.

Trouble connecting after a server reboot

If you're having trouble connecting to rain via VNC after a server reboot, it is either because your .Xauthority file needs to be deleted or you need to manually stop and restart your VNC session. Luckily, both are fairly easy to achieve and the instructions on how are below!

To delete your .Xauthority file on rain, ssh into rain as yourself and remove or move your .Xauthority file. You may need the campus VPN to ssh to rain if you are off campus. Please see the VPN wiki page for help getting connected via the campus VPN.

  • Note: Just to clarify, because it seems to be a common point of confusion, VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing and serves as a remote Unix desktop. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a special IP you get from UCSB to allow you to access campus-IP locked services.

If you're still having trouble with your vnc session, these two commands are very useful:

  • Killing your VNC session (on rain logged in as yourself)
[user@rain ~]$ vncserver -kill :[your VNC number]
  • Starting your VNC session (on rain logged in as yourself)
[user@rain ~]$ vncserver :[your VNC number]

Your VNC number is the number you use to log into rain with your VNC client (the number after the colon).

Logging Out

You may find that when you try to use the "log out" option, that your menus go away and you are left with a blank desktop. When this happens, you need to kill your VNC session manually on rain (see above).


  • Running the command

and unchecking the package that wants to update might resolve the annoying popup window issue - still need to investigate further to make sure vncserver and its associated gnome setup is properly updated.

  • A possible solution within your VNC session for resizing your desktop can be found here.