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I am a remote employee at Pivotal, so I do a lot of remote pairing, and I’m always trying new options. Here’s a quick writeup on what I’ve found to work best.
This is specifically for working over a WAN. If you are on a LAN, other options will be better (and you should just get on the same machine as your pair anyway!). Remote pairing is pretty usable unless bandwidth is causing problems. CPU also makes a big difference – performance on an iMac is a lot better than on a Mac mini, especially the 1.6Mhz mini. I’m using the term “server” to mean the machine running the VNC server, and “client” to mean the machine running the VNC client.
OSXVNC (Vine Server) with default settings. Turn on shared VNC connections if you want.
UltraVNC with the Video Driver Hook seems to work best; it’s almost as fast as Windows Remote Desktop, but it requires that you use the UltraVNC client, which is only available for Windows. However, sometimes you get screen redraw issues with the video driver hook. This seems to be due to network or CPU issues, because it works great most of the time on most machines. If this happens, you can fall back to the Tight protocol on the client.
The “WinVNC Current User Properties” I use for the UltraVNC server are:
Windows Client for server with a single monitor:
If you are using the UltraVNC windows server with the video driver hook, then you should use the UltraVNC client, with the “Ultra” encoding and 256 colors, with CopyRect and Cache encoding enabled.
If you are not using the UltraVNC video hook on your server, then UltraVNC is still a good client, with these settings:
Windows Client for a server with a dual monitor and a client with a dual monitor:
UltraVNC client has a bug where it scales, but will still not show any more width than one of the client’s monitors, even though you make the window bigger. RealVNC does not have this problem, so it’s probably a better client in this situation, even though it doesn’t allow configuration of all the above options like UltraVNC does (at least not from the GUI).
Linux server and client:
I’ve not been too impressed with the VNC linux servers or clients. They seem to be slow and crash a lot (both RealVNC and TightVNC). Your mileage may vary.
Alternatives I’ve tried and found to be inferior:
I’ve read that running VNC over a compressed SSH tunnel will help performance. However, I think with the latest VNC protocols, which already do compression, this doens’t make much of a difference.
Most of these observations are from running different clients side-by-side. They are very subjective, because bandwidth and CPU are always affecting the performance. Let me know what your experiences are, and if you have any different ideas.