Been trying to access my laptop running Elementary using a remote desktop protocol and it’s harder than I’d want. I have not yet finished and so this documents how not to do it. Here are my notes. …


Elementary OS does not support RDP. This article on stack exchange dated Dec 15 says it’s not possible with RDP. Reddit commentors suggest it may now be possible. Maybe test it with VBox.



When following the obvious instructions, which include instructions on how to wrote a systemd service description, I get a the basic grey X-Windows screen. I am surprised that it runs in User space, under User privilege. There’s not so much on Elementary although loads on Unbuntu.

Using tightvnc, the configuration and logfiles are held in held in ${HOME}/.vnc folder. There is a file, xstartup which needs to be pointed at the window manager start file. Someone suggests that the following needs to be placed in ${HOME}/.xsession

gnome-session --session=pantheon

I have tried with xfce4 and lxde which I installed. I looked further and some advise using lightdm, all of which involve making changes to $HOME/.vnc/xstartup. The last line needs to invoke the window manager.

I also looked at these pages while trying to get it work.

  1. On Installing using SSH, so command line only but has the lightdm runes, albeit they fail. Also points at How to access desktop on a headless Loki machine.
  2. Ubuntu’s Client Page.
  3. Here’s the video that recommends using lxde.
  4. This is a query on vnc at

I initially tested using RealVNC on windows and then switched to Remina on the VNC server itself. All of which return the grey X screen.

I havn’t tried this yet. Also I wonder if the geometry statement should be written to the configuration file.


I have now come to this which suggests that TigerVNC should be used.

After much buggering around I came across this, Installing tigervnc on Ubuntu which also talks about some really simple window managers.


An idea from somewhere else.

6 Replies

  1. I hope you will find the solution since I had tried exactly what you did… It’s very unfortunate that it’s hard to configure Elementary OS to work with VNC or RDP.

    1. I have given up on RDP; collective wisdom is that it cannot work. I found that somewhere on stackexchange. I will wait ’till I upgrade Elementary before playing with VNC.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  2. I use RealVNC server on elementaryOS and it works well.
    There are 2 options for setting up
    1 – Install RealVNC server and create RealVNC account to activate ‘Home’ subscription (it’s free)
    2 – manually install X11VNC and create password on system after install

    Option 1
    Download the RealVNC server (.deb) from their website and install
    I ran $ systemctl start vncserver-x11-serviced.service
    A window popped up and I logged in with my RealVNC account and it activated the ‘Home’ subscription. (gives you cloud connect, no direct connect, no file transfer)

    Option -2 I followed tutorial below (I prefer this method)

  3. I forgot to mention.. I use RealVNC Viewer (to connect to the PC running the RealVNC Server). On my system the quality is really good. It’s as good as Remote Desktop I’ve used for work (it shows you your desktop as if you were there).

    (I also tried tigervnc but just got a slow, grey desktop)

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