A Random Pattern

August 3, 2006

Remote Desktop Control and Ubuntu

Filed under: computers,linux,web technologies — randomstep @ 11:33 am

I set up VNC from my work PC to my Ubuntu box last night.  It was actually really easy, went much smoother than I had expected.  For one thing, Ubuntu gave me no hassle about changing to a static IP, and neither did my Linksys router.  I did have to look around for a minute or two to find how to set it up, but that’s no different than in Windows.  Not to mention it was actually easier than Windows, no rebooting or anything.

It did take a while to figure out how what to use to do remote desktop.  I just want to go over my intranet for now, I’m not (yet) trying to open it up to access from the internet.  I decided to just pick VNC and go with it, since I’m somewhat familiar with that on Windows boxes.  From there, I just used the package manager to find vnc4server, and a few quick downloads, installs, and command-line checks later I thought I might have it setup.

The longest part of the setup was actually picking which VNC viewer I wanted on my Win XP installation.  Someone I respect (Tony A) had recommended UltraVNC, but when I looked at it it wasn’t what I remembered.  I’d also seen TightVNC referred to a lot, and decided to go with that as it looked open-source and ‘linux-friendly’.  The install was again quick.

One tricky part was that I needed to not just specify the server ip address, but also the x-display (like this:  That’s an example using default numbers, btw, which no one should ever use (but most people do).  Once I figured that out, BAM!  I was in!

Now for the surprise – it wasn’t quite what I expected.  I didn’t get my whole linux graphical desktop, instead I got a terminal (or command line).  I could type in and run some graphical programs (somewhat slowly), but definitely not what I expected.

Things left to do:

1. See if I can put TightVNC server on Ubuntu, which might give me more what I want.

2. See if VNC is the right path, or if there’s some other type of Remote Desktop option.

3. Start looking into configuring my Ubuntu box as a server, with all the attendant benefits.

4. Help my dad get his old HP (running Win 98!) updated to Ubuntu.  Hopefully this goes well.

Anyone with questions on how I did what I did, or looking for more information / screenshots on what was accomplished?

Anyone have more information on how to set up some sort of Remote Desktop thing?  I’d love to learn, and I’ll point at any blog or resource you send me that is helpful.



  1. http://www.brainonfire.net/2006/08/21/vnc-over-ssh/

    Comment by SeedE — September 4, 2006 @ 6:39 am

  2. Type “gnome-session” to launch Gnome at the tightvnc terminal prompt.

    – Steve Yates
    – ITS, Inc.
    – Stupidity got us into this mess — why can’t it get us out?

    ~ Taglines by Taglinator – http://www.srtware.com ~

    Comment by Steve — October 26, 2006 @ 6:45 pm

  3. Steve, thanks for the advice. I’ll give it a try.

    Comment by Step — October 26, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

  4. Why not just wait until you get home to use your home computer?

    jonesing for the home PC that bad?

    Comment by Steve — March 5, 2008 @ 10:19 pm

  5. Steve – actually I’m at home – that’s why the article mentioned I just want to do it over my intranet, not internet.

    So actually I’m just too lazy to walk upstairs. 😉 Or perhaps there’s a legitimate reason for remotely accessing one computer to another, and you don’t need to let the fact that you have nothing to contribute to that conversation make you bitter and snarky. 😛

    Comment by randomstep — March 17, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

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