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LibVNCServer/LibVNCClient are cross-platform C libraries that allow you to easily implement VNC server or client functionality in your program.

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LibVNCServer: A library for easy implementation of a VNC server. Copyright (C) 2001-2003 Johannes E. Schindelin

If you already used LibVNCServer, you probably want to read NEWS.

What is it?

VNC is a set of programs using the RFB (Remote Frame Buffer) protocol. They are designed to "export" a frame buffer via net: you set up a server and can connect to it via VNC viewers. If the server supports WebSockets (which LibVNCServer does), you can also connect using an in-browser VNC viewer like noVNC.

It is already in wide use for administration, but it is not that easy to program a server yourself.

This has been changed by LibVNCServer.

Projects using it

The homepage has a tentative list of all the projects using either LibVNCServer or LibVNCClient or both.

RFB Protocol Support Status

Security Types

Name Number LibVNCServer LibVNCClient
None 1
VNC Authentication 2
MSLogon 0xfffffffa
Apple ARD 30
TLS 18
VeNCrypt 19


Name Number LibVNCServer LibVNCClient
Raw 1
CopyRect 2
Hextile 5
Zlib 6
Tight 7
Zlibhex 8
Ultra 9
TightPNG -260

How to build

LibVNCServer uses CMake, which you can download here or, better yet, install using your platform's package manager (apt, yum, brew, macports, chocolatey, etc.).

You can then build via:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
cmake --build .

Crypto support in LibVNCClient and LibVNCServer can use different backends:

    • Supports all authentication methods in LibVNCClient and LibVNCServer.
    • Supports WebSockets in LibVNCServer.
    • Supports all authentication methods in LibVNCClient and LibVNCServer.
    • Supports WebSockets in LibVNCServer.
    • Supports only VNC authentication in LibVNCClient and LibVNCServer.
    • Supports WebSockets in LibVNCServer.

Transport Layer Security support in LibVNCClient and LibVNCServer can use:


For some more comprehensive examples that include installation of dependencies, see the Unix CI and Windows CI build setups.

Crosscompiling from Unix to Android

See as a reference, but basically it boils down to:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake --build .

Crosscompiling from Linux to Windows

Tested with MinGW-w64 on Debian, which you should install via sudo apt install mingw-w64. You can make use of the provided toolchainfile. It sets CMake to expect (optional) win32 dependencies like libjpeg and friends in the deps directory. Note that you need (probably self-built) development packages for win32, the -dev packages coming with your distribution won't work.

mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=../cmake/Toolchain-cross-mingw32-linux.cmake ..
cmake --build .

How to use

See the LibVNCServer API intro documentation for how to create a server instance, wire up input handlers and handle cursors.

In case you prefer to learn LibVNCServer by example, have a look at the servers in the examples directory.

For LibVNCClient, examples can be found in client_examples.

Using Websockets

You can try out the built-in websockets support by starting the example server from the webclients directory via ../examples/example. It's important to not start from within the examples directory as otherwise the server program won't find its HTTP index file. The server program will tell you a URL to point your web browser to. There, you can click on the noVNC-Button to connect using the noVNC viewer git submodule (installable via git submodule update --init).

Using Secure Websockets

If you don't already have an SSL cert that's trusted by your browser, the most comfortable way to create one is using minica. On Debian-based distros, you can install it via sudo apt install minica, on MacOS via brew install minica.

Go to the webclients directory and create host and CA certs via:

cd webclients
minica -org "LibVNC" $(hostname)

Trust the cert in your browser by importing the created cacert.crt, e.g. for Firefox go to Options->Privacy & Security->View Certificates->Authorities and import the created cacert.crt, tick the checkbox to use it for trusting websites. For other browsers, the process is similar.

Then, you can finally start the example server, giving it the created host key and cert:

../examples/example -sslkeyfile $(hostname).key -sslcertfile $(hostname).crt

The server program will tell you a URL to point your web browser to. There, you can click on the noVNC-encrypted-connection-button to connect using the bundled noVNC viewer using an encrypted Websockets connection.

Commercial Use

At the beginning of this project Dscho, the original author, would have liked to make it a BSD license. However, it is based on plenty of GPL'ed code, so it has to be a GPL.

The people at AT&T worked really well to produce something as clean and lean as VNC. The managers decided that for their fame, they would release the program for free. But not only that! They realized that by releasing also the code for free, VNC would become an evolving little child, conquering new worlds, making its parents very proud. As well they can be! To protect this innovation, they decided to make it GPL, not BSD. The principal difference is: You can make closed source programs deriving from BSD, not from GPL. You have to give proper credit with both.

Now, why not BSD? Well, imagine your child being some famous actor. Along comes a manager who exploits your child exclusively, that is: nobody else can profit from the child, it itself included. Got it?

What reason do you have now to use this library commercially?

Several: You don't have to give away your product. Then you have effectively circumvented the GPL, because you have the benefits of other's work and you don't give back anything. Not good.

Better: Use a concept like MySQL. This is free software, however, they make money with it. If you want something implemented, you have the choice: Ask them to do it (and pay a fair price), or do it yourself, normally giving back your enhancements to the free world of computing.


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.


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