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Desktop sharing works just fine when a user is logged in, but I am using Ubuntu 12.04 as a media server and I want desktop sharing launched automatically. Is there a way to do this without automatically logging into the desktop? Much thanks!

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without login , i think not possible ! –  AgentCool Jul 29 '12 at 4:00

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No, the VNC server that comes with Ubuntu is not designed for that. There are many other solutions though. I would probably recommend X2Go or FreeNX, but there are also VNC servers that allows you to do this, such as X11VNC.

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