Remote Desktop and VNC

One of the challenges of developing for multiple mobile platforms is that each development platform usually requires a specific development machine setup. Some tools need to run on XP, some can be cajoled into working on Vista and obviously iPhone development needs a Mac. The requirement to have multiple build environments becomes even more troublesome when supporting legacy mobile applications that rely on older PC environments.

My strategy up to now has been to do most of my current development on one XP machine and use Microsoft Remote Desktop to develop under less frequently used development environments. This allows me to have continual access to common things like email, rss, calendar etc. as well as do development all through only one machine.

It works well and I even have a separate (remote desktop) machine that just acts as a file server, print server and has Backup4All on it that automatically archives, encrypts and backs up my work every night to a remote ftp server.

However, up until now I have had a separate desk, monitor and keyboard for iPhone development as it obviously doesn’t support Microsoft Remote Desktop. Today, I had some spare time and discovered that the Mac has VNC server built in.

To configure the Mac, go to System Preferences…Sharing. Click on Remote Management and select all the options…


Click on Computer Settings and enable VNC…


Installing TightVNC has also allowed me to develop on the Mac through my PC. As a bonus, developing this way gives me a much larger screen size than if I had developed on the screen attached to the Mac. One tip though – stay with a plain Mac desktop background otherwise screen updating will be much slower.