Install VNC Server on Linux

Setup a Remote GUI on Linux Using VNC Server

There are some times when having a remote GUI console can be very helpful.  You may want to use the GUI interface for configuring the machine or to use applications.  I know personally, I like that I can login to VNC and startup a terminal window and start a job and then come back later and check on its progress.  All of this without tying up my laptop.  Other times, it is nice to just use the Gnome Desktop for some tasks.  Whatever the reason you want to install VNC Server on Linux, the instructions are layed out below.

Step 1 – Install VNC-Server with Yum

Do the following as root or using sudo:

yum install tigervnc-server

Step 2 – Set the Password for the VNC User

Login with ssh as the user that will be using VNC and then set the password:

$ vncpasswd

Step 3 – Launch VNCServer for the First Time as the User That Will Use VNC to Create the Environment Files for That User

As the user that will be using VNC, launch the VNC Server to create the VNC Server files for the user.

$ vncserver
xauth:  creating new authority file /home/jeff/.XauthorityNew ‘ (mary)’ desktop is default startup script /home/mary/.vnc/xstartup
Starting applications specified in /home/mary/.vnc/xstartup
Log file is /home/mary/.vnc/

Step 4 – Make a Backup of the Xstartup File and Edit it to Specify Gnome or Your Favorite Desktop

If you are hoping to use Gnome desktop, you will need to be sure that the Gnome desktop has been installed.  On CentOS 6, this will install it for you:

# yum groupinstall “Desktop”

Now let’s configure the user’s VNC environment to use Gnome:

$ cd $HOME/.vnc
$ cp xstartup xstartup.orig

Edit the $HOME/.vnc/xstartup file with your favorite Editor and change the last line from:

twm &


gnome-session &

Step 5 – Shutdown the VNCServer Session you Started in Step 3

$ vncserver -kill :1
Killing Xvnc process ID 3842

Step 6 – Setup VNCServer to Start at Boot Time

Get yourself to an ssh session and become the root user or use sudo and then:

Edit the /etc/sysconfig/vncservers file and change these default lines:

# VNCSERVERS=”2:myusername”
# VNCSERVERARGS[2]=”-geometry 800×600 -nolisten tcp -localhost”


VNCSERVERARGS[1]=”-geometry 1024×768″

If you happen to be making VNC available to more than one user (remember to perform the steps above for each user) then do like this:

VNCSERVERS=”1:mary 2:user2″
VNCSERVERARGS[1]=”-geometry 1024×768″
VNCSERVERARGS[2]=”-geometry 1024×768″

Set to start at boot time:

# chkconfig vncserver on
# chkconfig –list vncserver
vncserver          0:off    1:off    2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off

Step 7 – Startup the VNCServer

# service vncserver start
Starting VNC server: 1:mary
New ‘ (mary)’ desktop is applications specified in /home/mary/.vnc/xstartup
Log file is /home/mary/.vnc/[  OK  ]

Step 8 – Connect to VNC with Your Favorite VNC Client

There are lots of VNC clients that you can download and use.  I have listed some below:

 Mac OSX
 Chicken of the VNC

Launch the VNC Client and configure it to connect to your VNC Server.

Configure Chicken of the VNC Client to Connect to the VNC Server

Configure Chicken of the VNC Client to Connect to the VNC Server


To the right is an example of how I configured Chicken of the VNC to connect to my VNC Server.

Note that I listed the Display at 1 as was specified for this user in the /etc/sysconfig/vncservers file above.







Below is an image showing a connected VNC client to a VNC server.  In this example, we are using the GNOME desktop as explained in the steps above.

Connected with VNC

Connected with VNC

That’s it.  We setup The VNC Server and can now connect to it.

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Jeff has 20 years of professional IT experience, having done nearly everything in his roles of IT consultant, Systems Integrator, Systems Engineer, CNOC Engineer, Systems Administrator, Network Systems Administrator, and IT Director. If there is one thing he knows for sure, it is that there is always a simple answer to every IT problem and that downtime begins with complexity. Seasoned IT professional by day, Jeff hopes to help other IT professionals by blogging about his experiences at night on his blog: You can find Jeff on or LinkedIn at: LinkedIn or Twitter at: Twitter

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