I have used VNC a few times and what I find is that VNC can't be used to control the "current" or "main" desktop. What I mean by this is I can't go out, and leave my machine on, leave my work open and fire up VNC server, then connect in remotely and access the programs I have left open.

This is becauase VNC doesn't seem to want to bind to desktop ":0", instead I can only use it to connect into a new instance of the desktop interface with no programs open.

Is this just me, or is there no way to have remote access to my actual desktop and currently running apps (even if this means using some other program other than VNC)?

  • I think you might be a little confused by the Windows remote desktop functionality here? By default VNC binds to :0, showing you the standard desktop. x11vnc, mentioned below, is a great tool to start a permanent VNC on your desktop - click on your VNC tag there to search this site for howtos.
    – Scaine
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 23:49

2 Answers 2


I ssh into my desktop and issue the x11vnc command.

I then can vnc into my current desktop.

  • x11vnc is exactly what I needed, I was using a different VNC. Thanks :)
    – Baldrick
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 11:15
  • Is there a way to have that automatically start at boot?
    – khatchad
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 16:18

You can run that over an ssh tunnel for a secure connection.

  • 2
    Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 29, 2013 at 17:09

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