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Proceedings Paper

Optimizing the use of X and VNC protocols for support of remote observing
Author(s): Robert I. Kibrick; Steven L. Allen; Al Conrad; Terry Stickel; Gregory D. Wirth
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Paper Abstract

Remote observing is the dominant mode of operation for both Keck Telescopes and their associated instruments. Over 90% of all Keck observations are carried out remotely from the Keck Headquarters in Waimea, Hawaii (located 40 kilometers from the telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea). In addition, an increasing number of observations are now conducted by geographically-dispersed observing teams, with some team members working from Waimea while others collaborate from Keck remote observing facilities located in California. Such facilities are now operational on the Santa Cruz and San Diego campuses of the University of California, and at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. This report describes our use of the X and VNC protocols for providing remote and shared graphical displays to distributed teams of observers and observing assistants located at multiple sites. We describe the results of tests involving both protocols, and explore the limitations and performance of each under different regimes of network bandwidth and latency. We also examine other constraints imposed by differences in the processing performance and bit depth of the various frame buffers used to generate these graphical displays. Other topics covered include the use of ssh tunnels for securely encapsulating both X and VNC protocol streams and the results of tests of ssh compression to improve performance under conditions of limited network bandwidth. We also examine trade-offs between different topologies for locating VNC servers and clients when sharing displays between multiple sites.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 September 2004
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 5496, Advanced Software, Control, and Communication Systems for Astronomy, (15 September 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.552365
Show Author Affiliations
Robert I. Kibrick, Univ. of California Observatories/Lick Observatory (United States)
Steven L. Allen, Univ. of California Observatories/Lick Observatory (United States)
Al Conrad, W.M. Keck Observatory (United States)
Terry Stickel, W.M. Keck Observatory (United States)
Gregory D. Wirth, W.M. Keck Observatory (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5496:
Advanced Software, Control, and Communication Systems for Astronomy
Hilton Lewis; Gianni Raffi, Editor(s)

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