How to install VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04

I have shown you How to install VNC Server on CentOS 6, today I’m going to show you How to install VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04 since many people like and use Ubuntu these days. I mostly spend time with Centos but not with Ubuntu. I spent quite sometimes to make VNC Server to work on Ubuntu 14.04 because gnome doesn’t play nice with VNC Server.

Update and Upgrade Ubuntu 14.04

To make sure the installation of VNC Server go smoothly, check your Ubuntu 14.04 is up to date.

$ su -


<h1>apt-get update; apt-get dist-upgrade -y --force-yes</h1>

Install GUI on Ubuntu 14.04 Server

If you have Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) Desktop version, you can skip gnome-core and xubuntu-desktop packages, you will only need xfce4. Well we don’t need a GUI on Ubuntu 14.04 over ssh, but for VNC purpose we are going to install a GUI to work with Ubuntu comfortably. There are two options here for you to choose, either gnome-core with xfce4, or xubuntu-desktop with xfce4. I have tried to make gnome to work over VNC but no luck so far. So make your pick.

# apt-get install gnome-core xfce4 firefox nano -y --force-yes


# apt-get install xubuntu-desktop xfce4 firefox nano -y --force-yes

Install VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04

It’s quite simple to install VNC server on Ubuntu 14.04, but it’s not that simple to configure VNC server 🙂

# apt-get install vnc4server -y --force-yes

Configure VNC Server to work on Ubuntu 14.04

You can remotely control your Ubuntu 14.04 system via VNC with any user that you want. Some people would recommend you to install and run login to VNC server as root user to avoid sudo escalation privileges which is not a good security practice at all. In this tutorial I will add new user called vncuser you can use any user as you want.

# adduser vncuser

set vncuser password

# passwd vncuser

Now switch to the user you want to login to VNC server with. We are going to modify xstartup file to start xfce4 session whenever VNC server is started.

# su - vncuser

Start VNC server with that user for VNC server to create some necessary files first time.

$ vncserver

VNC server will ask you for a password you want to use to login to VNC server, this password does not necessary to be the same as regular user password. This is the sample output

vncuser@namhuy:~$ vncserver

You will require a password to access your desktops.



xauth:  file /home/vncuser/.Xauthority does not exist


New 'namhuy:1 (vncuser)' desktop is namhuy:1


Creating default startup script /home/vncuser/.vnc/xstartup

Starting applications specified in /home/vncuser/.vnc/xstartup

Log file is /home/vncuser/.vnc/namhuy:1.log

After VNC Server started and created some of it’s files. We are now can turn it off to modify the xstartup file (startup script) to make it start with xfce4 instead of gnome which doesn’t work right with VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04.

To kill VNC Server session

$ vncserver -kill :1

To modify xstartup file (these commands will empty xstartup file, if you installed wine before vnc server and you want to keep the old content of xstartup file, skip this line $ > .vnc/xstartup ) thanks Hamid

$ cd ~

$ > .vnc/xstartup

$ nano .vnc/xstartup
With the content



startxfce4 &


[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup

[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources

xsetroot -solid grey

vncconfig -iconic &
Save xstartup when you are done. The next step is to create VNC Server statup script. You must do this with root user
$ su -


<h1>nano /etc/init.d/vncserver</h1>

With the content



# Provides:          tightvncserver

# Required-Start:    $syslog

# Required-Stop:     $syslog

# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5

# Default-Stop:      0 1 6

# Short-Description: vnc server

# Description:






[ -f /etc/vncserver/vncservers.conf ] && . /etc/vncserver/vncservers.conf

prog=$"VNC server"

start() {

. /lib/lsb/init-functions


echo -n $"Starting $prog: "

ulimit -S -c 0 >/dev/null 2>&1


for display in ${VNCSERVERS}


export USER="${display##*:}"

if test -z "${REQ_USER}" -o "${REQ_USER}" == ${USER} ; then

echo -n "${display} "




su ${USER} -c "cd ~${USER} && [ -f .vnc/passwd ] && vncserver :${DISP} ${VNCUSERARGS}"




stop() {

. /lib/lsb/init-functions


echo -n $"Shutting down VNCServer: "

for display in ${VNCSERVERS}


export USER="${display##*:}"

if test -z "${REQ_USER}" -o "${REQ_USER}" == ${USER} ; then

echo -n "${display} "


export USER="${display##*:}"

su ${USER} -c "vncserver -kill :${display%%:*}" >/dev/null 2>&1



echo -e "\n"

echo "VNCServer Stopped"


case "$1" in


start $@



stop $@



stop $@

sleep 3

start $@



if [ -f /var/lock/subsys/vncserver ]; then

stop $@

sleep 3

start $@




status Xvnc



echo $"Usage: $0 {start|stop|restart|condrestart|status}"

exit 1

You must make vncserver startup script executable
# chmod +x /etc/init.d/vncserver
Save the file. We are almost there, now we are going to create VNC Server configuration file in /etc/ directory
# mkdir -p /etc/vncserver


<h1>nano /etc/vncserver/vncservers.conf</h1>
Copy the content to vncservers.conf file. The first line is for VNC ports and VNC users. number “1″ is the VNC port, it’s port “1″ or “5901″, you can add or change the port to “2″ or “5902″ and so on. If you want more users to connect to your VNC Server, you must include those users here. The second line VNCSERVERARGS is to set VNC screen size.

VNCSERVERARGS[1]="-geometry 1024x768"
The final step is to make VNC Server starts on boot
# update-rc.d vncserver defaults 99
and the output, you can ignore missing LSB information warning.
update-rc.d: warning: /etc/init.d/vncserver missing LSB information

update-rc.d: see 

Adding system startup for /etc/init.d/vncserver ...

   /etc/rc0.d/K99vncserver -> ../init.d/vncserver

   /etc/rc1.d/K99vncserver -> ../init.d/vncserver

   /etc/rc6.d/K99vncserver -> ../init.d/vncserver

   /etc/rc2.d/S99vncserver -> ../init.d/vncserver

   /etc/rc3.d/S99vncserver -> ../init.d/vncserver

   /etc/rc4.d/S99vncserver -> ../init.d/vncserver

   /etc/rc5.d/S99vncserver -> ../init.d/vncserver
Reboot your Ubutnu 14.04 system and test out your new VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04
# reboot
You can login to your VNC Server with IP address or hostname/domain name by using RealVCN viewer or TightVNC viewer. You will be asked for your user VNC’s password.
When your VNC session starts the first time, Xfce4′s panel will ask you to choose “Use default config” or “One empty panel”. Choose/click on “Use default config”
Now you should have a working VNC Server on Ubuntu 14.04.
VNC Server with xubuntu_desktop
xubuntu-desktop with xfce4
VNC Server with xfce4 and gnome_core
gnome-core with xfce4

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