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Developer codes VNC-over-GIF tool

Remote access gets animated for the Tumblr generation

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

However you choose to pronounce GIF, developer Andrey Sidorov has found a great new use for the recently-resurgent-thanks-to-Tumblr file format: displaying a remote device.

Sidorov used the weekend just passed to unleash a tool called VNC-over-GIF that does what is says on the can.

For the uninitiated, Virtual Network Control (VNC) uses the remote framebuffer (RFB) protocol to send images one computer's output to another. The VNC protocol builds on RFB to allow control of the remote computer, which becomes possible once one installs a server on the device one wishes to access remotely, then views and operates it with a client from remote machine.

VNC is useful for all sorts of sysadmin chores.

Melbourne-based Russian expat Sidorov told The Reg he's aware of VNC's many uses and of some tools that use VNC clients and JavaScript to display remote screens. Motivated by personal curiosity he found a solution in just 37 lines of code.

The biggest challenge, he said, was figuring out how to update new frames without creating one enormous animated GIF. “I had to add code to allow the GIF library to stream data,” Sidorov said.

VNC-over-GIF doesn't refresh at a set number of frames per second, relying on the output of the VNC client. Nor does it allow interaction with the remote machine.

Sidorov doesn't feel it solves any particular problem, but does believe there are occasions when just watching a remote device may come in handy.

You can find Sidorov's code here at GitHub. ®

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