Using KDEs VNC Options

KDE 3.1 includes built-in support for VNC. To use it, open the KDE Control Center by typing kcontrol in an xterm window or by selecting the Control Center from KDE's Kicker. Locate the Desktop Sharing item in the Network area, as shown in Figure 26.6. (On some distributions, the Network area may be called something else, such as Internet & Network.) This option enables you to activate or deactivate KDE's VNC server. This server is independent of the normal VNC server, and it operates in a different way. Rather than set up a unique VNC login session, KDE echoes its own environment. This feature enables you to "share" your current desktop with others, which can be convenient when doing demonstrations over a network.

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Figure 26.6: KDE enables you to share your desktop using VNC.

KDE supports two methods of authorizing clients to connect:

Uninvited Connections If you authorize uninvited connections, you specify a password and it remains valid until you change this option. You might use this feature if others have an ongoing need to control your computer, or merely to see what you're doing with it.

Invitations Click Create & Manage Invitations to set up a time-limited authentication. KDE displays a dialog box that summarizes any existing invitations and enables you to create new ones. You can create both personal and e-mail invitations, which are mostly alike; the difference is that KDE uses KMail to send information on the invitation to the recipient for e-mail invitations. An invitation expires one hour after it's been issued, and it uses a randomly selected password.

Warning Sending passwords via e-mail is potentially dangerous. I recommend avoiding this invitation method if at all possible. If necessary, use a telephone to give your guest a password. On the other hand, the passwords are time-limited, and KDE informs you of connections, so e-mailing KDE VNC invitation passwords isn't as dangerous as e-mailing most other type of passwords.

You can use a KDE-created VNC session just as you would any other VNC session, as described in the next section, "Using a VNC Client." One important difference is that the KDE server displays a dialog box asking if you want to accept remote access whenever a connection attempt is made. You can then accept or refuse the connection, as well as allow or disallow remote users to control your system. This feature also makes the KDE VNC server useless for remote access if nobody is sitting at the server system. Overall, KDE's VNC support is most useful for remote training or debugging rather than remote control by ordinary users. Another difference between KDE's and the regular VNC server's sessions is that KDE's sharing method means that a user who connects actually controls your own desktop (assuming you grant that access). If you sit back and watch while somebody connects and uses your system, it will appear to be possessed—the mouse pointer will move, windows will open and close, text will type into windows, all without your touching the mouse or keyboard.

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