Poll on best VNC / remote desktop software for assisting others on Windows/Mac machines from Ubuntu?

I've heard good things about TeamViewer and Fog Creek Copilot, but I'm wondering if the included GNOME Vinaigre VNC client is good enough for this.

To specify, I'm looking for best option based on:

  1. SIMPLEST ease-of-use for client to download/use on their end.

  2. See #1.

  3. Works cross-platform

  4. I am able to control client's mouse and/or keyboard from remote machine.

  • Technically, VNC is only one kind of desktop sharing software. Both TeamViewer and Copilot use proprietary, non-VNC connection methods.
    – ændrük
    Sep 21, 2010 at 2:38
  • interesting note, did not know there are other types.
    – emf
    Sep 21, 2010 at 22:37
  • Voting to leave open as ALL software-recommendation questions that have more than one answer are primarily opinion based. Asking for a recommendation is in effect asking for an opinion. If we don't allow this we should eliminate the tag.
    – Elder Geek
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:53
  • 2
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_remote_desktop_software lists many products, and provides a matrix of features for each major OS.
    – K7AAY
    Oct 2, 2018 at 16:35

7 Answers 7


If you're planning on providing assistance to someone who is not very computer savvy, TeamViewer is going to make your life far easier. Yes, it is a closed-source commercial product – but the magical sensation you feel when establishing a connection using only an ID number makes it all well worth it.

For a while you might think you can pull off carefully setting up a VNC server and the required firewall/NAT rules to be ready for future support sessions, but it won't do you any good the day that your friend in need of assistance has changed their network setup or broken their server configuration by following some Hoary Hedgehog how-to.

It's pretty hard to get this part wrong:


With most of my clients, I don't even have them try to install TeamViewer. Session initiation looks like this:

  1. At teamviewer.com/download, click the button beneath "TeamViewer QuickSupport".
  2. Click Run.
  3. Read me the ID and password.
  • 1
    I fully agree. This is one of the very seldom cases, where I also suggest a closed source product over all the free and open source alternatives, just because it is much easier for the inexperienced user at the other end. Sep 21, 2010 at 16:36
  • Sounds like this is the winner.
    – emf
    Sep 21, 2010 at 22:40
  • Appreciated the practical choice answer
    – emf
    Sep 21, 2010 at 22:40
  • This is impressive - because it's very easy to use, nearly nothing to configure, and it just works! I just tested a connection from iPhone to Ubuntu - totally straightforward. Oct 19, 2011 at 18:33

Remmina is pretty easy to set up and use. Highly recommended for novice and expert alike. Install it with:

sudo apt install remmina
  • 1
    Could you provide (or link to) some basic instructions on how to configure it? There is some rudimentary info in this question, but I would hope for something more descriptive...
    – landroni
    Dec 12, 2014 at 20:02

Chrome Remote Desktop

Yet another solution is Chrome Remote Desktop.

After installing, access it from Chromium home page or click at "Launch the App" at here.


Your friend will have to click at "Share Now":


And give you the code:



  • Doesn't require Wine (~190MB to download and ~500MB of space in disk, and security issues).
  • Super easy to install and no configuration is needed.
  • Fast connection.

Another great solution is Mikogo (which doesn't use Wine). Download, extract, run and share (no installation required):


Mikogo is just as easy to set-up and use as TeamViewer (and is also cross-platform, closed-source, commercial but free for private use). Once you Start a session it is only a matter of communicating to the other user the 9-digit session ID. The other user would then Join session using this ID. See a review here.


I am fairly sure the default one included in Ubuntu will work with another one on Windows/Mac. Check for some of them on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vnc

Remember on Ubuntu to set up a machine to be able to be controlled, you have to go to: System -> Preferences -> Remote Desktop. Set a strong password. You can view other machines without doing this though.

  • Thanks Nightwish, I will check this out. I would prefer to be using a ubuntu tool, but will have to depend on if it works. =)
    – emf
    Sep 21, 2010 at 22:35
  • 1
    How do you access Remote Desktop on Xubuntu?
    – landroni
    Dec 12, 2014 at 19:46

For Windows UltraVNC is fairly simple for the end user. Its a pain to set up initially as you have to open ports for the server but it's open source and free. Once the server is set up and the client file is set up its simple enough.


Here is the link to an excellent( & credible) article which contains reviews of some remote-desktop clients for linux, "Remmina" is judged as the best:
7 of the best Linux remote desktop clients

  • Thanks jumbli, I will check this out. Comparison is good!
    – emf
    Sep 21, 2010 at 22:36

MeshCentral (and Remotely) seems good alternatives. Much more Jami.

Note: * means FOSS.


  • Jami* (install) - Open Source, Peer-to-Peer, Audio, Video, Conferencing, Chat, and Screen Sharing System. Here a video describing it.

Using a repeater service/gateway (for firewalled/NATed hosts, both sides)

Using a middleware proprietary gateway: No need to connect directly to an IP+port.

Client or server port directly accessible*

Without firewall/NAT (on a LAN/forwarding ports/or NAT passthrough/Listening mode):

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