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I haven't tried to set up a Pi server in a while, and I recall back in the day being excited that there was built-in easy support for VNC. However, it was strange (I don't recall all the finer details) and you had to use a specific/custom VNC client, which defeats the point of using a standard, interoperable, protocol (VNC).

I did some brief searching and there's something about wayland and wayfire, and my eyes are already rolling back in my head and I'm having flashbacks to cron and systemd. I'm not a Linux guy, and the in-fighting, software geneology, and constant major poorly documented changes are the primary reasons why. The blog post announcing this hits almost all of those on my bingo card too. Real VNC made a blog post and thinks they can fix their software in less than 6 months.

If I recall correctly, I used a seldom-discussed software called x11vnc (a VNC server) to get a proper VNC connection. I don't recall all the problems that it solved, but it was almost unfindable even back then. Since x11 is on the way out, I don't think that's an option.

Do we still need a custom or specific VNC client to connect to Raspberry Pi? Or has it finally found itself as a standard VNC server?

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  • "a specific/custom VNC client, which defeats the point of using a standard, interoperable, protocol (VNC)" -> I suspect this has to do with RealVNC monitization (it requires a subscription that is not free for commercial users etc) and what VNC implementations were/are available for the Pi. Based on all the things I read here about VNC of whatever flavour, I'd recommend NoMachine instead. Easy, minimal configuration, clients for lots of platforms, works without fuss, and is also free for non-commercial users.
    – goldilocks
    Jan 14 at 16:07
  • NoMachine sounds like an interesting alternative, but seems more similar to Teamviewer than VNC. There's a lot of overlap, but it's not a VNC client/server. Jan 15 at 2:44
  • I know it's not VNC; it might be implied by your question that you want a generic server so you can use a client of your choice -- but that's not clearly stated. If not, and the goal is simply remote access to a GUI desktop, you are not bound by law to use VNC.
    – goldilocks
    Jan 15 at 16:04

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Most VNC clients/servers use X and it was always possible to mix & match although there differences in login, whether access was available to the same screen displayed on the Pi.

The REALVNC included in Raspberry Pi OS worked well and easily allowed screen sharing and normal logon (provided you used the REALVNC client).

Raspberry Pi OS Bookworm and Pi4 Bullseye (using mutter) does not use X and initially did not support REALVNC but recent updates allowed it to work (at least the 64bit version) although the remote access does not (although I have never used that).

TigerVNC was recommended but my experience is that it is idiosyncratic and didn't reliably connect (without fiddling every time) but it was officially recommended and is used by some.

I am not aware of any other clients that work.

Frankly the current (admittedly incomplete) Bookworm was rushed for the Pi5 (Bullseye was the same when Pi4 was released).

If you don't have a Pi5 don't use Bookworm yet and stick to X on Pi4 (which is the default if you enable VNC on Bullseye).

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  • I kinda figured I should go back a version, but if Bullseye doesn't use X on a Pi 4, should I go back another version, for 2 total? Jan 13 at 2:36
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    If you enable VNC Bullseye uses X.
    – Milliways
    Jan 13 at 2:38

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