How to Install VNC on Ubuntu 20.04

Install VNC on Ubuntu 20.04

In this article, we will have explained the necessary steps to install and configure VNC on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. Before continuing with this tutorial, make sure you are logged in as a user with sudo privileges. All the commands in this tutorial should be run as a non-root user.

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a graphical desktop sharing system that allows you to use your keyboard and mouse to remotely control another computer.

Install VNC on Ubuntu 20.04

Step 1. First, before you start installing any package on your Ubuntu server, we always recommend making sure that all system packages are updated.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Step 2. Install the Graphical Desktop Packages.

Let’s install the XFCE desktop environment:

sudo apt install xfce4 xfce4-goodies

During this installation, you may be prompted to pick a display manager for the system’s graphical desktop. Use the arrow keys to select lightdm on this screen and hit enter to continue.

Once done, install the TightVNC server package:

sudo apt install tightvncserver

Step 3. Create a VNC user.

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

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

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

sudo usermod -a -G sudo linuxtipsuser
sudo su - linuxtipsuser

Step 4. Configure VNC Server.

Now that the VNC server is installed the next step is to run the vncserver the command which will create the initial configuration and set up the password. Do not use sudo when running the following command:


The screen output walks you through setting a VNC-specific password (limited to 8 characters), then you’re prompted on whether you wish to create a view-only password:

You will require a password to access your desktops.

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

New 'X' desktop is linuxtips-86:1 localhost

Creating default startup script /home/linuxtipsuser/.vnc/xstartup
Starting applications specified in /home/linuxtipsuser/.vnc/xstartup
Log file is /home/myvncuser/.vnc/linuxtips-86:1.log

Now that we’ve started the VNC server for the first time, some basic configuration files were created. We also want to set some commands to be run automatically every time vncserver starts up:

vncserver -kill :1

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

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

Now use nano text editor to create a new xstartup file:

nano ~/.vnc/xstartup

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

xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
startxfce4 &

Once done, run other commands from its startup, grant executable privileges to your new startup file with the following command:

sudo chmod +x ~/.vnc/xstartup

Step 6. Testing Your Connection.

Set up a secure SSH tunnel by running the following command on your local machine (you can open up a new window or tab in Terminal, for example). Replace your-server-ip with the IP address of your server:

ssh -L 5901: -N -f -l linuxtipsusser server_ip

Connecting to CentOS Desktop via VNC Client.

In this example, we’ll be using TigerVNC. Open your VNC viewer, enter localhost:5901, and click on the Connect button.

Install VNC on Ubuntu 20.04

That’s all you need to do to install the VNC server on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa. I hope you find this quick tip helpful. For further reading on VNC, please refer to their official knowledge base. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below.