TurboVNC is an implementation of VNC optimized for 3D graphics rendering.  Like other VNC software, TurboVNC can be used to create a virtual desktop on a remote machine, which can be useful for visualizing CPU-intensive graphics produced remotely.

Availability and Restrictions

The versions currently available at OSC are:

VERSION OAKLEY Ruby Owens notes
1.1 [1]     Default version on Oakley prior to 09/15/2015
1.2 X*[2]      
2.0 X X    
2.0.91 X X* X*  
*: Current default version


  • [1] -- TurboVNC 1.1's version of vncviewer does not work on Oakley.  Use the 1.2 module's version.
  • [2] -- TurboVNC 1.2's version of vncserver does not work on Oakley.  Use the 1.1 module's version.
  • To simplify vncviewer and vncserver incompatibility with prior 1.X versions, a new version of TurboVNC 2.0 is available as of 10/30/2015 on Oakley and Ruby clusters.
  • A version of TurboVNC 2.0.91 was installed in September 2016 to be uniformly available on all OSC clusters.

You can use  module avail turbovnc to view available modules for a given cluster. Feel free to contact OSC Help  if you need other versions for your work.


TurboVNC is available for use by all OSC users.


Usage on Oakley and Ruby

Setup on Oakley and Ruby

To load the default version of TurboVNC module, use  module load turbovnc. To select a particular software version, use   module load turbovnc/version. For example, use  module load turbovnc/2.0 to load TurboVNC version 2.0 on Oakley. 

Please do not SSH directly to compute nodes and start VNC sessions! This will negatively impact other users (even if you have been assigned a node via the batch scheduler), and we will consider repeated occurances an abuse of the resources. If you need to use VNC on a compute node, please see our HOWTO for instructions.

Using TurboVNC

To start a VNC server on your current host, use the following command:


After starting the VNC server you should see output similar to the following:  

New 'X' desktop is hostname:display
Starting applications specified in /nfs/nn/yourusername/.vnc/xstartup.turbovnc
Log file is /nfs/nn/yourusername/.vnc/hotsname:display.log

Make a note of the hostname and display number ("hostname:display"), because you will need this information later in order to connect to the running VNC server.  

To establish a standard unencrypted connection to an already running VNC server, X11 forwarding must first be enabled in your SSH connection.  This can usually either be done by changing the preferences or settings in your SSH client software application, or by using the -X or -Y option on your ssh command.     

Once you are certain that X11 forwarding is enabled, create your VNC desktop using the vncviewer command in a new shell.


You will be prompted by a dialogue box asking for the VNC server you wish to connect to.  Enter "hostname:display".  

You may then be prompted for your HPC password.  Once the password has been entered your VNC desktop should appear, where you should see all of your home directory contents. 

When you are finished with your work on the VNC desktop, you should make sure to close the desktop and kill the VNC server that was originally started.  The VNC server can be killed using the following command in the shell where the VNC server was originally started:

vncserver -kill :[display]

For a full explanation of each of the previous commands, type man vncserver or man vncviewer at the command line to view the online manual.

Further Reading

Additional information about TurboVNC can be found at the VirtualGL Project's documentation page.  

See Also

Fields of Science: