Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

March 1999
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PM VNC Viewer for OS/2

By Peter Lazenby (

Even though this is just in beta (tested versions were alpha release 0.03 and beta 0.04), I have spent far too much time with this application to just throw my experiences out the window. Sounds derogatory? It is, but not against the application.

PM VNC is an OS/2 viewer (client) for remote desktop access to a VNC Server equipped pc via tcp/ip. There are XFree86/2 and Java versions of VNC Viewer for OS/2 PM, but PM VNC Viewer requires no more than emx runtimes 0.9c and above installed on your system. You can find PM VNC Viewer at the author's, Akira Hatakeyama's web site. Problems reports should be emailed to The archive also contains the entire source code.

VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing, developed by ORL. See ORL's VNC site ( for details

"Viewer" is misleading however, as you can manipulate the remote desktop. "Viewer" makes me think that you can only admire the other person's handiwork... what possible use is that? You want me to see it, then send me a bitmap. You're allowing me to use it, then I'll need PM VNC Viewer.

Documentation was a little on the light side when I first started with the alpha release, but the readme.txt was all I needed to get going. Apparently things were missing from the alpha. From its readme:

But it have lot of missing features, such as

But these have all been cured in the current beta release.

Installation is simply a matter of unzipping the archive into the directory of your choice. It is suggested that the application be located in a directory in the PATH statement, but creating a shadow on your desktop serves much the same purpose. Launching the viewer brings up the connection dialogue:

connect dialogue

You can alternately type "vncview " from the command line, along with other switches discussed below.

The drop-down box for servers wasn't functional in the alpha, but in the beta, entered server addresses are automatically saved. All you need is a valid ip of a VNC server machine and it's display (ie: Before hitting the Connect button, you'll need to set up a couple of options:

options dialogue

Valid command line option switches for starting PM VNC Viewer beta are:

Pixel Format

For my testing of the alpha, I used the 8-bit option for speed. When you're hooked up to the net via a dialup connection over two tin cans and a piece of string, speed becomes an issue. "Why use the net?" you ask. "Why not try it on a LAN?"

The derogatory remark made in my first paragraph was directed solely at me... the world's stupidest networker (or is it networkee?). Probably neither, but then you can't say I didn't warn you. Networkly challenged is what I am, no matter how you phrase it. There is either some little secret that the rest of the world knows but is not divulging to me, or I'm missing those brain cells normally devoted to networkism. I suspect the latter, and you can blame THAT on the 60's.

PM VNC opens up a whole new set of possibilities. I devoted nearly a week trying to create a simple (yeah, right) peer setup in order to try VNC out locally. Unfortunately my still networkless setup prevents this, however PM VNC Viewer will work over the net, so...

I have a friend in Finland who chats with me via IRC during lunch hours (mine, not his). He runs linux, and one of our conversations turned to my networking woes. He discovered that I merely wanted to try out VNC, and just happened to be able to accommodate me. A few moments later, and he was ready for me to log on. The following image is from the alpha release of the viewer:

linux desktop

Although it was painfully slow over the internet, it did work remarkably well. I was able to manipulate my friend's desktop within the constraints of what he allowed me to do. Window controls could all be accessed from my end, I was able to type commands into his shell window and see results. I imagine I would have been able to launch applications as well, but not knowing a) what apps were available to me, and 2) what commands were needed to launch the apps, I left that area untested.

After most of the above was written, two things happened. First, the beta version of this application was released (I have doctored some of the above to reflect this), and second, I finally managed to get the required tcp/ip connection between two local machines. File and print sharing still escapes me, but VNC only needs the tcp/ip. The following image is from the beta release of the viewer:

win desktop

Here you see the win32 version of Neon Object running on the win machine fondly referred to as "weenie". All actions, including starting the program, were performed from my OS/2 desktop. The display fits quite nicely... The OS/2 machine uses 1280x1024, while Weenie uses 800x600.

Performance is quite acceptable, bearing in mind that Weenie is my experimental machine, and is only a 486dx/4 w/32mb ram. A faster processor and more ram would definitely perk things right up. I'd love to hear from anyone who tries a VNC setup using faster hardware for the server machine. Wouldn't mind knowing if file and print sharing works through VNC either :-)

The beta also supports most of its new features through the titlebar drop-down menu:

drop-down menu

One point I did find a little annoying in the beta... the only way to exit the viewer is via the alt-f4 or menu option... if you look at the two connection screens above, you'll see the CTRL and ALT tabs cover the default Warp 4 close box in the current release. These tabs provide CTRL and ALT keypresses to the server machine. Selecting a tab changes its background to white, indicating that the server machine's corresponding key is depressed. Any keyboard entry while the tab is selected issues that CTRL-x or ALT-x instruction to the remote machine. Probably quite necessary, though I wish they could be moved to the left somewhat.

Overall though, accessing win32 applications via VNC exceeded my expectations. Anyone on a LAN with OS/2 and Win machines should give this a try... you'll be pleasantly surprised.

PM VNC Viewer for OS/2. Finally an application that brings all win32 applications to your OS/2 desktop.


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