How To Install VNC Server on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Install VNC Server on Ubuntu 20.04

In this tutorial, we will show you how to install VNC Server on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. For those of you who didn’t know, VNC (Virtual Network Computing) server is a free and open-source software which is designed for allowing remote access to the Desktop Environment of the server to the VNC Client whereas  VNC viewer is used on the remote computer to connect to the server.

This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of the VNC Server on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa). You can follow the same instructions for Ubuntu 18.04, 16.04, and any other Debian based distribution like Linux Mint.

Install VNC Server on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa

Step 1. First, make sure that all your system packages are up-to-date by running these following apt commands in the terminal.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Step 2. Create a VNC user on your server.

Now we create the new user and set its server password with the following commands:

sudo useradd -m -s /bin/bash idroot
sudo passwd idroot

Then, add your new user to the sudo group to grant root privileges:

sudo usermod -a -G sudo idroot

Next, log in as your new user and use its root privileges to begin working with the VNC server:

sudo su - idroot

Step 3. Installing VNC Server on Ubuntu 20.04.

Run the following command to install the TightVNC server and the XFCE desktop manager core files:

sudo apt install tightvncserver XFCE4 XFCE4-goodies

Once that installation completes, run the vncserver the command to set a VNC access password, create the initial configuration files, and start a VNC server instance:

vncserver

You’ll be prompted to enter and verify a password to access your machine remotely:

You will require a password to access your desktops.

Password:
Warning: password truncated to the length of 8.
Verify:
Would you like to enter a view-only password (y/n)? y
Password:
Warning: password truncated to the length of 8.
Verify:
xauth:  file /home/idroot/.Xauthority does not exist
xauth: (argv):1:  bad display name "lucky-puffin-86:1" in "add" command
xauth:  file /home/idroot/.Xauthority does not exist

New 'X' desktop is meilana-maria-86:1
127.0.0.1 localhost

Creating default startup script /home/idroot/.vnc/xstartup
Starting applications specified in /home/idroot/.vnc/xstartup
Log file is /home/idroot/.vnc/meilana-maria-86:1.log

Step 4. Configure the VNC.

We now need to edit the xstartup file. Before doing so, kill VNC service:

vncserver -kill :1

Next, create a backup of its default startup script file:

mv ~/.vnc/xstartup ~/.vnc/xstartup.bak

Now edit xstartup the file:

nano ~/.vnc/xstartup

Add the following 3 lines of text into your new file:

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

Make the xstartup file executable:

sudo chmod +x ~/.vnc/xstartup

And finally, start vncserver again:

vncserver

Step 5. Create a VNC server system startup script.

One more time, let’s stop the VNC server so we can change configuration files:

vncserver -kill :1

Now create a new unit file for VNC. A unit file encodes information about a service:

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/vncserver@.service

Paste in the following, replacing idroot with your own user name. You can also change 1280x800 to your desired resolution:

[Unit]
Description=Start TightVNC server at startup
After=syslog.target network.target

[Service]
Type=forking
User=idroot
Group=idroot
WorkingDirectory=/home/idroot

PIDFile=/home/idroot/.vnc/%H:%i.pid
ExecStartPre=-/usr/bin/vncserver -kill :%i > /dev/null 2>&1
ExecStart=/usr/bin/vncserver -depth 24 -geometry 1280x800 :%i
ExecStop=/usr/bin/vncserver -kill :%i

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Next, reload Systemd for the changes to take effect:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload
sudo systemctl enable vncserver@1.service
sudo systemctl start vncserver@1

Step 6. Connecting to VNC server.

To access the remote desktop on the VNC server from the windows system, you must have a VNC viewer installed on your system. There is various VNC viewer available to use. Download any one and install on your system, for example:

Install VNC Server on Ubuntu 20.04

To access the remote desktop on the VNC server from Linux, you can open up a new window or tab in Terminal, for example). Replace server-ip-address with the IP address of your Server:

ssh -L 5901:127.0.0.1:5901 -N -f -l idroot server-ip-adress

Congratulations! You have successfully installed VNC. Thanks for using this tutorial for installing VNC Server on your Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa system. For additional help or useful information, we recommend you to check the official VNC website.

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