I have a home server running Ubuntu Gnome 16.10. I installed the Desktop Environment to have a nicer way to configure my server, I chose Gnome because of it is lightweight enough and has the Google drive integration for backup (somewhat).

I would like to access through VNC and have the same interface. I am talking about this one.

I got my VNC configured and my ~/.vnc/xstartup looks like :


# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
# exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc

[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
xsetroot -solid grey 
vncconfig -iconic &
x-terminal-emulator -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
x-window-manager &
gnome-session & #this line has been added based on some comments found online, but no effect whatsoever.    
gnome-panel &
gnome-settings-daemon &
metacity &
nautilus &

I can perfectly connect from my Windows machine using Putty and a SSH tunnel like explained here, but the outlook is not at all what I would desire. it is like that : VNC session outlook

and if I uncomment the 2 lines at the top of the file, I get that enter image description here

What am I doing wrong?

  • Read this and this Mar 29, 2017 at 15:37
  • thanks, it helped me go a bit further, I got the background and desktop icons. the panel was still the grey one.
    – Memes
    Mar 31, 2017 at 14:35

3 Answers 3


Few people know this, but Ubuntu already comes with everything you need.

Just search in the menus:

  • Vino: this is the server application; there is a configuration UI that lets you configure. Use this in your desktop computer.
  • Remmina: the client. If your client is not Ubuntu, you have to use some other application. Remmina is very cool because you can setup tunnels and etc directly.

Notice this comes installed only for Ubuntu proper. For XUbuntu or other distributions, you will need to install these tools. Also, Vino may not work in Wayland -- I would use 16.04 or 18.04.

  • That's all very well but when you only have SSH access there doesn't seem to be a good solution for setting that up.
    – mjaggard
    Dec 22, 2020 at 13:50
  • @mjaggard Right, but you can use X11Forward to run graphical application via ssh. In any case, I think Vino can be configured from the command-line also. Dec 24, 2020 at 11:24

Well, after fiddling around, the best solution I found to access remotely my PC and have an experience "as if I was sitting in front of it" was to install Teamviewer

This solution has the bonus that now, from each and every one of my PC, I can access all my other PCs with one piece of software only.

I know, it is not the clean way to do it with only open source software but that is the one that in my opinion works best.

  • It's a slower solution than just using Vino (since all traffic goes through the TeamViewer servers). Vino comes pre-installed with Ubuntu. Jul 10, 2018 at 13:24
  • Haven't used TV since a while, but you can enable local network in tv, if you're on a LAN. I don't think that "all" traffic goes via teamviewer servers. The clients connect via the teamviewer network, but after that I guess the connection is direct.
    – SPRBRN
    Jun 17, 2019 at 14:39

On recent versions of TigerVNC at least, you can edit this config file to manually select Gnome, instead of Gnome Classic which is what has happened. It's just a bad logic bug to select Gnome Classic for VNC.

 $ sudo vim /etc/tigervnc/vncserver-config-defaults

Add or change the following variable declaration on its own line.


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