I have purchased a cloud server with ubuntu LAMP setup installed. I am trying to get started with this, for me, new thing. I am only used to windows.

I have tried to get some kind of visual access to my new server but failed.

Googling led me to run this command 'apt-get install vino'. A lot happened and I guess it was installed.

Then I typed vino-preferences and it said 'Gtk-WARNING **: cannot open display:' Then I tried 'vino-server' and it said 'vino-server: command not found'

I can see in /usr/lib/vino that therer is a green entry called vino-server.

Please help me.


Usually linux servers are configured without GUI. Looks like you already have command line access to your server.

You can try this command to verify if a GUI it's installed.

dpkg-query -W xorg

If a GUI is installed it will show something like this:

xorg    1:7.6+10ubuntu1

If there is no GUI it will output an empty line.

Now, if there is no GUI there the wise solution is to leave it that way and learn to use the command line. If you really need a GUI, you should first check if your provider allows it and that you have enough resources for it. You can install it with:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

Now you can proceed to use any remote access solution. I personally like FreeNX. These questions will help you:

Finally, let me advice you again to learn the command line. It's how a linux server is expected to be administered.

  • Hi Javier. I appreciate your answer. There is no GUI installed and I seem to be getting a little more used to the command-line style as the hours go by. MY provider says they do not provide that and just like you they say command line is the way to manage the server. So I'll just have to get used to that :) – Jesper Feb 22 '12 at 11:53

Assuming your server has a GUI installed: Run x11vnc on the server instead: sudo apt-get install x11vnc on the machine Then, run it: x11vnc -once -passwd [some password]

On your side install vncviewer in Ubuntu or TightVNC in Windows Then use the VNC viewer to connect to your server.

Just a thought: if this is a cloud server with LAMP, chances are it doesn't have a GUI installed, so this won't work for you.


The vino-preferences application gave that error because the application is graphical and you can't display graphical linux applications from the command line without doing some extra work.

It's hard to know if your cloud server has provided some kind of web based interface to run commands, or if you have connected using an SSH client (such as Putty on Windows). If you want to enable vino using vino-preferences then you will need to run it in a graphical environment. If the cloud provider doesn't provide one you will need to connect using an SSH client and X server for Windows.

This is less painful than it sounds. I'll assume you have a working SSH client, if not google [putty download] and install it. Then look in your cloud providers documentation for how to connect to their service.

After that you will need to install an X server. I've used Xming in the past and it's quite easy. Get it here: http://www.straightrunning.com/XmingNotes/. Install Xming and start the X server. Then follow these instructions to configure Putty:


Once you have a working SSH connection you should be able to run the vion-preferences application and have the interface display locally on your desktop.

Good luck with your first steps in Linux!

  • This could be a better answer than mine if you are able to avoid installing X in the server. The problem (for me) is how to avoid that. Most graphical apps will pull all the stack at installation time. – Javier Rivera Feb 22 '12 at 10:33

Remote desktop is, IMO, not the best option for managing a server. Managing a server generally involves installing packages, updating packages, starting/stopping services, managing a firewall, and editing configuration files. All of this can be done securely and easily over ssh.

ssh -X user@server

If you must have a graphical interface, take a look at web interfaces such as webmin or phpmyadmin.

Also take care with VNC (remote desktop). It is an insecure protocol and one of the most common "cracks" I see. Again if you must use VNC, use FreeNX, which is both fast and secure.


You can also connect using ssh X forwarding...

I recommend you forget about Remote Desktop & install a server admin panel instead.

Shop around for web admin panels, you should be able to find one that suits your requirements - I recommend: Webmin

  • of course this still requires you install xorg as suggested above. – palbakulich Feb 22 '12 at 9:12

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