How to Install VNC on Ubuntu 20.04?

Discover the simplest way to install VNC on Ubuntu with our easy-to-follow guide. Get started now to enhance your remote access!

Updated: 30 Apr, 24 by Lisa P 10 Min

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In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the significance of VNC and its indispensable role in remote server management, troubleshooting, and even collaborative software development. We'll explore the vast landscape of possibilities that VNC offers and demonstrate how to harness its capabilities to enhance your Ubuntu 20.04 server administration experience. So, whether you're a seasoned Ubuntu user or just getting started, join us on this journey as we unlock the potential of VNC on Ubuntu 20.04.

Before you begin installing and configuring VNC on your Ubuntu 20.04 server, it's important to ensure you have everything you need. Let's outline the prerequisites for a smooth setup:

What You'll Need:

  1. Ubuntu Server: Make sure you have a server running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, as this guide is tailored specifically for this operating system version.
  2. SSH Access: You should have SSH (Secure Shell) access to your Ubuntu server. SSH allows you to establish a secure remote connection to your server's command-line interface (CLI).
  3. User with Sudo Privileges: It's recommended to have a regular user account on your Ubuntu server with sudo privileges. This user will be used for administrative tasks and software installation.

Preparing Your Ubuntu 20.04 Server:

Before proceeding with the VNC installation, ensure your Ubuntu 20.04 server is set up correctly. Here are the preliminary steps you should take:

  1. Update System Packages: Log in to your server via SSH and update the package list to ensure you have the latest information about available software.
  2. Upgrade Installed Packages: After updating the package list, upgrade the installed packages to their latest versions.
  3. Install Necessary Tools: While SSH is pre-installed on Ubuntu 20.04, you may want to install some additional tools like text editors for easier configuration file editing.

With these prerequisites fulfilled and your Ubuntu 20.04 server in good shape, you can proceed with the VNC installation, which we'll cover in the next section.

Step 1: Accessing Your Server via SSH

Before you can install the VNC server software on your Ubuntu 20.04 server, you'll need to access it via SSH (Secure Shell). SSH allows you to securely connect to your server's command-line interface. Open a terminal on your local computer and use the following command to connect to your server. Replace your_server_ip with the actual IP address of your Ubuntu server:

ssh your_username@your_server_ip

You'll be prompted to enter your user password for authentication. Once logged in, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Installing the VNC Server Software

Ubuntu 20.04 provides a VNC server software called "TightVNC," which you can install from the default repositories. Use the following command to update your package list and install TightVNC:

sudo apt update sudo apt install tightvncserver

During the installation, you'll be asked if you want to continue. Type "Y" and press Enter to confirm.

Step 3: Configuring VNC Server

Once TightVNC is installed, you'll need to configure it and set a VNC password for security. Run the following command to start the initial configuration:

vncserver :1

The :1 represents the display number, which is usually set to "1" by default. You can change this number if needed, but for most users, the default value is sufficient. You'll be prompted to create and verify a VNC password. This password will be required every time you connect to your server via VNC, so make sure it's strong and secure.

After setting the password, the VNC server will create a configuration file and start a VNC session on display "1."

With these steps completed, you've successfully installed and configured a VNC server on your Ubuntu 20.04 system. You can now proceed to connect to your server remotely using a VNC client and the VNC server's IP address and display number.

Setting a Strong VNC Password

One of the first and most crucial security measures is to set a strong VNC password. This password will be required every time you connect to your Ubuntu server via VNC. To change your VNC password, follow these steps:

  • Log in to your Ubuntu 20.04 server using SSH, as explained in the previous section.
  • Once logged in, use the following command to change the VNC password:


  • You'll be prompted to enter and verify your new VNC password. Make sure it's complex and not easily guessable. Strong passwords typically include a combination of letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and special characters.
  • After setting the new password, it will be applied to your VNC server.

Configuring Firewall Rules for Security

Securing your VNC server also involves configuring firewall rules to limit access to only trusted IP addresses or networks. Ubuntu 20.04 comes with the Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) tool, which makes this process easier.

  • First, check if UFW is installed by running:

sudo ufw status

If it's not installed, you can install it using:

sudo apt install ufw

  • Allow incoming connections to the VNC server by specifying the VNC server's port (default is 5901) and the trusted IP address or network you want to grant access to. Replace your_trusted_ip with your actual IP address or network in CIDR notation. For example, to allow access from a single IP address:

sudo ufw allow from your_trusted_ip to any port 5901/tcp

To allow access from an entire network:

sudo ufw allow from your_trusted_network to any port 5901/tcp

  • Once you've added the firewall rule, enable UFW with the following command:

sudo ufw enable

  • Confirm the firewall rule has been applied by checking the status:

sudo ufw status

You should see the rule allowing VNC traffic from your trusted IP or network.

To access and control your Ubuntu 20.04 server remotely using VNC, follow these steps:

Step 1: Finding Your Server's IP Address

Before you can establish a VNC connection, you need to know your server's IP address. If you're accessing your server on a local network, you can typically find the IP address by running the following command in your server's terminal:

hostname -I

Step 2: Launching Your VNC Client

Next, you'll need to open your chosen VNC client on your local computer. Depending on the client you've selected (e.g., Remmina, TigerVNC, RealVNC, etc.), launch the application from your computer's applications menu.

Step 3: Establishing the VNC Connection

Once your VNC client is open, follow these general steps to establish the VNC connection:

  • Click on the option to create a new connection or session within your VNC client.
  • Enter the server's IP address (either the local or public one, depending on your network setup) into the connection settings.
  • If you've configured a custom VNC port during the server setup, make sure to specify it in the connection settings.
  • If you're using SSH tunneling for added security, you can configure it within your VNC client as well. This typically involves specifying the SSH username and private key or password.
  • Save the connection profile for future use, if your VNC client allows it.
  • Click "Connect" or a similar button to initiate the VNC connection.

VNC, despite its numerous advantages, may sometimes encounter hiccups along the way. To ensure a smooth and uninterrupted remote server management experience on Ubuntu 20.04, it's crucial to be prepared for potential VNC connection problems and know how to troubleshoot them effectively.

Common VNC Connection Problems:

  1. Connection Refused: If you're unable to establish a connection, double-check that your VNC server is running and configured correctly. Ensure your firewall is permitting VNC traffic to the server.
  2. Authentication Issues: If you're unable to authenticate or face repeated login failures, verify your VNC password. Ensure it's correctly set up and that you're using the right credentials.
  3. Slow Performance: Slow response times can be frustrating. It's often a result of limited bandwidth or server resources. Consider optimizing your VNC settings or exploring alternative connection methods like SSH tunnels.

Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions:

  1. Check Port and IP: Verify that your VNC client is using the correct port number and server IP address. Ensure there are no typos or errors in your connection settings.
  2. Firewall Configuration: Revisit your firewall settings to make sure they're not blocking VNC traffic. Open the necessary ports and allow VNC traffic through your server's firewall.
  3. VNC Server Logs: Examine your VNC server logs for error messages or clues about connection issues. Logs can often provide valuable insights into what's going wrong.
  4. Update and Reinstall: If problems persist, consider updating your VNC server software or even reinstalling it. Sometimes, a fresh installation can resolve underlying issues.
  5. Network Stability: Slow or unreliable networks can hamper VNC performance. Ensure your internet connection is stable, especially when working remotely.
  6. Consult the Community: If you're still facing challenges, don't hesitate to seek help from the Ubuntu community or relevant forums. Experienced users may have encountered similar issues and can offer guidance.

In this guide, we've delved into the world of VNC (Virtual Network Computing) on Ubuntu 20.04, focusing on its vital role in remote server management. Whether you're a system administrator, IT professional, or business owner, the ability to control your Ubuntu 20.04 server from afar is invaluable. We demystified VNC, a technology enabling remote access to computers or servers over a network. It provides a graphical desktop interface for seamless remote interaction.

Throughout this Ubuntu-centric guide, we've equipped you with the knowledge and skills to make VNC work for you. We've discussed prerequisites, secure installation, and alternative client options. Now, you're prepared to efficiently connect to your Ubuntu server using VNC in just three straightforward steps. In conclusion, VNC empowers you to master remote server management on Ubuntu 20.04, streamlining operations and enhancing your IT capabilities. Embrace VNC, and you're well-prepared to navigate the demands of modern digital server administration.

Lisa P

Lisa P

Hello, everyone, my name is Lisa. I'm a passionate electrical engineering student with a keen interest in technology. I'm fascinated by the intersection of engineering principles and technological advancements, and I'm eager to contribute to the field by applying my knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems.