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Linux Remote Desktop Access with VNC

Linux Remote Desktop Access with VNC

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Linux Remote Desktop Access with VNC. Setting up and using Virtual Network Computing (VNC) for remote desktop access.

Linux Remote Desktop Access with VNC

A Comprehensive Guide to Remote Desktop Access with VNC


Linux, known for its stability and versatility, provides numerous options for remote desktop access. One popular and widely-used solution is Virtual Network Computing (VNC). In this article, we will explore the intricacies of setting up VNC on Linux, enabling users to access their Linux desktop environment from anywhere in the world.

Learn how to unlock remote desktop access on Linux with VNC. Install and configure the VNC server, enhance security with SSH tunneling, and enjoy flexible access to your Linux desktop environment from anywhere in the world. Linux Remote Desktop Access with VNC

Understanding VNC:

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a graphical desktop-sharing system that allows users to remotely control another computer’s desktop. It operates on a client-server model, where the VNC server runs on the machine whose desktop you want to access, and the VNC client connects to the server to provide remote control.

Linux Remote Desktop Access with VNC

Installation of VNC Server:

Before delving into the configuration, you need to install the VNC server on your Linux machine. The exact installation process may vary based on your Linux distribution.

For Debian-based systems (e.g., Ubuntu), use the following commands:

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sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

On Red Hat-based systems (e.g., Fedora), you might use:

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sudo dnf install tigervnc-server

Starting the VNC Server:

Once installed, start the VNC server to create a new desktop session. Run the following command:

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During the first run, you’ll be prompted to set up a password for VNC access. After setting the password, the server will allocate a display number, such as :1. This number is crucial for connecting to the VNC server.

Configuring VNC:

VNC configuration involves customizing settings based on your preferences and security requirements. The primary configuration file for VNC is located in the user’s home directory under ~/.vnc/xstartup.

Use a text editor to edit this file. For example:

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nano ~/.vnc/xstartup

Here’s a sample configuration for a lightweight desktop environment like Xfce:

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#!/bin/bash xrdb $HOME/.Xresources startxfce4 &

This configuration ensures that the Xfce desktop environment starts when you connect to the VNC server.

Securing VNC:

Security is paramount when exposing remote desktop services. Here are essential steps to enhance the security of your VNC setup:

  1. SSH Tunneling: Utilize Secure Shell (SSH) for encrypted communication by establishing an SSH tunnel before connecting to the VNC server. This ensures that data transmitted between the client and server remains secure.bashCopy codessh -L 5901:localhost:5901 -N -f -l username remote_server_ip Replace “username” with your Linux username and “remote_server_ip” with the actual IP address of your Linux machine.
  2. VNC Server Configuration: Edit the ~/.vnc/xstartup file to include the following line at the end:bashCopy codevncserver -localhost This restricts the VNC server to only listen for connections from the localhost, providing an additional layer of security.
  3. Firewall Settings: Adjust your firewall settings to allow VNC traffic. Open the VNC port (default is 5901) to ensure that external connections are permitted.bashCopy codesudo ufw allow 5901 If you are using a different port, replace “5901” accordingly.

Connecting to the VNC Server:

With the VNC server configured and secured, connect to it from a VNC client. Various VNC clients are available for different operating systems, including RealVNC, TightVNC, and TigerVNC.

  1. Using VNC Viewer: Download and install a VNC client such as RealVNC Viewer. Open the client and enter the address in the format localhost:1 (if using the default display :1). If you set up an SSH tunnel, connect to localhost:5901 instead.
  2. SSH Tunneling with VNC Viewer: If you’ve established an SSH tunnel, use the VNC Viewer to connect to localhost:5901. This ensures a secure and encrypted connection.

Benefits of Linux Remote Desktop with VNC:

  1. Access Anywhere: VNC provides the flexibility to access your Linux desktop environment from anywhere, making it convenient for remote work or troubleshooting.
  2. Resource Efficiency: VNC is known for its resource efficiency, enabling smooth remote desktop experiences even on machines with limited hardware capabilities.
  3. Multiple Desktop Environments: Linux supports a variety of desktop environments. With VNC, you can easily switch between them, adapting to your preferences and needs.
  4. Security Features: By combining VNC with SSH tunneling and configuring the VNC server securely, you enhance the overall security of your remote desktop access.

Q: How can I enable remote desktop access on Linux using VNC?

A: To enable remote desktop access on Linux with VNC:

  1. Install VNC Server:
    • Debian-based: sudo apt-get install tightvncserver
    • Red Hat-based: sudo dnf install tigervnc-server
  2. Start VNC Server:
    • Run vncserver and set a password.
  3. Configure VNC:
    • Customize ~/.vnc/xstartup for your desktop environment.
  4. Secure VNC:
    • Use SSH tunneling, set VNC server to -localhost, and adjust firewall settings.
  5. Connect with VNC Viewer:
    • Use RealVNC Viewer or similar clients to connect to localhost:1 or via SSH tunneling to localhost:5901.

You can find Linux Tutorials on this page

You can also find all Video Tutorial on Youtube

How can users set up and configure remote access to a Linux server securely?

Setting up and configuring remote access to a Linux server securely is crucial for efficient system administration while maintaining the integrity and security of the server. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how users can achieve secure remote access to a Linux server, along with recommended protocols and tools for remote administration:

1. Secure Shell (SSH) Setup:

a. Install SSH Server:

  • Ensure that the SSH server is installed on the Linux server. Most distributions come with an SSH server pre-installed. If not, install it using:bashCopy codesudo apt-get install openssh-server # For Debian/Ubuntu sudo yum install openssh-server # For Red Hat/CentOS

b. Configure SSH Daemon:

  • Edit the SSH daemon configuration file (/etc/ssh/sshd_config) to enhance security. Examples of important configurations:

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PermitRootLogin no # Disable root login PasswordAuthentication yes # Use key-based authentication (set to no for passwordless) AllowUsers username # Limit remote access to specific users

  • Restart the SSH service after making changes:

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sudo systemctl restart ssh # For systemd-based systems

2. Key-Based Authentication:

a. Generate SSH Key Pair:

  • Generate an SSH key pair on the local machine if not already done:bashCopy codessh-keygen -t rsa -b 2048
  • Follow the prompts and, optionally, set a passphrase.

b. Copy Public Key to Server:

  • Copy the public key to the server using ssh-copy-id or manually:bashCopy codessh-copy-id user@remote_server orbashCopy codecat ~/.ssh/ | ssh user@remote_server 'cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys'
  • After verifying key-based authentication works, consider disabling password authentication in SSH configuration:

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PasswordAuthentication no

  • Restart the SSH service.

3. Firewall Configuration:

a. Enable SSH Port:

  • Ensure that the firewall allows incoming connections on the SSH port (default is 22). Adjust the firewall settings based on the specific firewall tool in use (e.g., ufw, iptables).
  • For an additional layer of security, consider setting up a VPN to establish a secure connection to the server before using SSH. OpenVPN is a popular choice for VPN configurations on Linux.
  • OpenVPN Official Documentation

5. Tools for Remote Administration:

a. SSH Client:

  • Use a reliable SSH client for connecting to the Linux server remotely. Examples include OpenSSH (ssh command-line tool), PuTTY (Windows), and various GUI-based clients.

b. tmux or screen:

  • For persistent terminal sessions, use tmux or screen to ensure that terminal sessions persist even if the connection drops.

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sudo apt-get install tmux # For Debian/Ubuntu sudo yum install tmux # For Red Hat/CentOS

c. Web-based Tools:

  • Tools like Webmin or Cockpit provide a web-based interface for remote administration. Ensure they are installed securely and used with proper access controls.

6. Additional Security Considerations:

a. Fail2Ban:

  • Implement tools like Fail2Ban to automatically ban IP addresses that exhibit suspicious behavior, such as repeated failed login attempts.
  • Fail2Ban Official Website

b. Regular Software Updates:

  • Keep the server software and packages up-to-date to patch security vulnerabilities.

7. Monitoring and Logging:

a. Audit Log Configuration:

  • Enable and configure audit logging to keep track of user activities and system changes.

b. Monitoring Tools:

  • Utilize monitoring tools like Nagios, Zabbix, or Prometheus to track system performance and detect anomalies.
  • Implement Two-Factor Authentication for an extra layer of security. Tools like Google Authenticator or YubiKey can be integrated with SSH.

9. Regular Security Audits:

  • Periodically review and audit server configurations, access controls, and logs to identify and address security vulnerabilities.

By following these steps, users can establish secure remote access to a Linux server, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access and ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the system. Regularly update configurations, monitor system activities, and employ additional security measures to maintain a robust remote administration setup.


Enabling remote desktop access on Linux using VNC offers a powerful and versatile solution for users who need flexibility and accessibility. By following the installation, configuration, and security guidelines outlined in this guide, you can ensure a smooth and secure remote desktop experience on your Linux machine. Experiment with different desktop environments and customize your VNC setup to match your preferences, unlocking the full potential of Linux remote desktop access. Linux Remote Desktop Access with VNC

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