VNC servers are notoriously confusing to set up, especially if you’re a new Linux user trying to figure out how to control one PC from another. Thankfully, RealVNC exists. It’s a cross-platform VNC solution that’s dead simple to configure. RealVNC has superb support for many different Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux, OpenSUSE and many others. To use RealVNC on Linux, choose your operating system below and enter the corresponding commands!
Note: If your Linux distribution doesn’t have support for DEB, RPM or the Arch AUR, you’ll need to follow the “Generic Linux” instructions.
Ubuntu is the sole Linux distribution targeted by many software developers. As a result, RealVNC has some seriously great support for both the RealVNC server and viewer. To get it working on Ubuntu, you won’t be enabling any specific PPAs or third-party software repositories. Instead, to use it, a standalone DEB package file is required.
RealVNC has both a server component and a viewer. Download VNC Connect on the Linux PC (or Server) that will be the VNC host and download the client app on the remote PC connecting in. To get VNC Connect, head over to the official site, select DEB, and download the package to your PC. Grab the VNC Viewer app here.
VNC Connect Installation
Once the VNC Connect DEB package is finished downloading, open up the file manager. Click on “Downloads,” and double-click on the DEB package labeled “VNC-Server-6.3.1-Linux-x64.deb“. Double-clicking the VNC Server DEB package will instantly open the Ubuntu Software Center. Click “Install” to get the software on your Ubuntu PC.
Alternatively, if you do not have access to Ubuntu Software Center, or prefer the terminal, install VNC Connect with the dpkg tool:
cd ~/Downloads sudo dpkg -i VNC-Server-*-Linux-x64.deb sudo apt install -f
VNC Viewer Installation
Select the “Downloads” folder in the Ubuntu file manager, find “VNC-Viewer-6.18.625-Linux-x64.deb” and double-click on it to launch Ubuntu Software Center. Click “Install” to start the installation.
Prefer the terminal? Do the following commands in a terminal window:
cd ~/Downloads sudo dpkg -i VNC-Viewer-*-Linux-x64.deb sudo apt install -f
Debian support isn’t outlined specifically on the RealVNC website, but given the fact that Ubuntu and Debian share similar architectures, getting the software working shouldn’t be an issue. To start off, download the VNC Connect DEB package to the Linux machine that is doing the VNC hosting.
Download VNC Viewer to the Debian PC that will remote in. Once both packages are downloaded, follow the instructions below.
VNC Connect Installation
Open up the file manager in Debian and select the “Downloads” folder. Next, find “VNC-Server-6.3.1-Linux-x64.deb” and double-click on it to open the package in the GDebi package installation tool. Click “Install” and enter a password to install the server software. Alternatively, install via terminal with:
cd ~/Downloads sudo dpkg -i VNC-Server-*-Linux-x64.deb sudo apt-get install -f
VNC Viewer Installation
Make your way to “Downloads” in the Debian file manager, look for “VNC-Viewer-6.18.625-Linux-x64.deb” and double-click on it to open the package in GDebi. Select the “install” button, enter the system password, and let the package install.
cd ~/Downloads sudo dpkg -i VNC-Viewer-*-Linux-x64.deb sudo apt-get install -f
There’s no official RealVNC software for Arch Linux. However, it’s in the AUR. To install the server, do the following:
sudo pacman -S git git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/realvnc-vnc-viewer.git cd realvnc-vnc-viewer
The RealVNC Viewer is also in the AUR and installs in a similar fashion. Keep in mind that this version of the VNC viewer is out of date. Use at your own risk!
To start off the installation, clone the latest pkgbuild.
git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/realvnc-vnc-viewer-5.git cd realvnc-vnc-viewer-5 makepkg -si
Like Ubuntu and Debian, Fedora has first-class support from RealVNC. To install the server component of the software, head over to the download page, select “RPM” and click “Download”.
When the RPM package is downloaded, open up a terminal and use the DNF package management tool to install it.
sudo dnf install -y VNC-Server-*-Linux-x64.rpm
Install the VNC Viewer with:
sudo dnf install -y VNC-Viewer-*-Linux-x64.rpm
OpenSUSE supports RealVNC software via RPM packages. To install them, download the package and do the following:
cd ~/Downloads sudo zypper in VNC-Server-*-Linux-x64.rpm sudo zypper in VNC-Viewer-*-Linux-x64.rpm
Generic Linux Instructions
For those on lesser-known Linux distributions, Real VNC has a generic, binary archivefor both the server and the viewer app. Download the server archive to the PC that will host the connection, and the viewer to the remote machine. Then, open up a terminal and run the commands below to run RealVNC.
tar -xvzf VNC-Server-*-Linux-x64-ANY.tar.gz sudo mkdir -p /opt/realvnc-server
sudo ./vncinstall /opt/realvnc-server
cd ~/Downloads tar -xvzf VNC-Viewer-*-Linux-x64-ANY.tar.gz cd VNC-Viewer-*-Linux-x64 ./vncviewer
Set Up RealVNC Server
As RealVNC is meant to make VNC easy to set up for the average user, and there are not many things to tweak. The only real thing to do is to enable the server’s systemd service. In a terminal, start the service with systemctl.
sudo systemctl start vncserver-x11-serviced sudo systemctl enable vncserver-x11-serviced
Launching the RealVNC systemd service on a Linux desktop will show a VNC icon in the system-tray. Click on it to launch the server GUI tool.
Note: remote connections are not possible without creating a free account.
In the GUI tool feel free to modify how the RealVNC server app runs.
Connecting to a remote computer running the RealVNC server application is very simple. To start a remote connection, enter the name of the computer (aka Hostname) in the search box. RealVNC will look for the PC and start a new connection instantly.
Once connected, feel free to use the remote PC like any other computer. When you’re ready to disconnect, close the window.