How to Configure VNC for Gnome Desktop on Debian

Written by chad anderson
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How to Configure VNC for Gnome Desktop on Debian
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Virtual Networked Computing or VNC has become the most popular protocol for remote desktop sharing. Most Linux desktop environments, including the Gnome desktop, started to include their own VNC server and client in recent releases. Gnome is prebundled with the user-friendly Vino and Vinagre VNC suite. Since Gnome 2.30, Vinagre also is equipped with built-in SSH tunnelling support for additional security and a listener mode for connecting to users behind firewalls. With the VNC suite integrated into the Gnome Desktop, configuring and setting up a VNC server and client is easier and more intuitive than ever before on Linux.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Administrator access

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  1. 1

    Bring down the "System" menu in the upper-right hand corner of your desktop. Click "Preferences" and "Remote Desktop." This step will bring up the dialogue that lets you configure the VNC server for your desktop. If you don't see anything under the "Preferences" menu, install Vino by opening a terminal and typing "sudo apt-get install vino" or using the package manager to find the Vino package from the repositories. The VNC client Vinagre can be found under "Applications" and "Internet."

  2. 2

    Click "Allow other users to access your desktop" to enable your VNC server. It is highly recommended that you set Vino to require a password to connect to the session. You can set the VNC connection to be viewed only at this time. Otherwise the VNC server will allow connected users to control your desktop.

  3. 3

    Click the "Advanced" tab. Enable the option that only allows local connections unless you absolutely need to allow incoming connections from the Internet. VNC by its very nature is a an insecure protocol. Restrict as much access as possible. Most security experts would urge you to check the option that allows you to authorise each connection.

  4. 4

    Click "Close" to start the VNC server. Accept connections. Turn on your SSH server at this time to allow users to access the VNC server over a secure and encrypted SSH tunnel.

Tips and warnings

  • If users are unable to connect to the VNC server, configure the firewall to allow access on port 5900 or enable the listener mode in Vinagre to initialise the connection first.
  • If a user's connection seems excessively slow, modify the bandwidth options on their client or use an alternative to Vino like TightVNC that runs on a more refined and compact version of the VNC protocol to speed up connections.

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