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How to use the screen share feature in Ubuntu

Setting up a VNC server on Linux can be tedious and time-consuming if you’re not familiar with the technology and how it works. It seems that the developers of Ubuntu agree, and as a result, have a “screen sharing” feature, which can automatically configure and set up a VNC server to share your desktop’s screen.

The “screen share” feature on Ubuntu is only accessible through the Ubuntu Gnome desktop environment. Those using alternative desktop environments on Ubuntu like Mate, XFCE, KDE Plasma 5, and others will not be able to experience this on their desktop without logging into the “Ubuntu” session at the login screen.

Logging in to the “Ubuntu” session

If you’ve chosen to install an alternative desktop environment on your Ubuntu PC or even are using one of the Ubuntu flavors, rather than the classic Ubuntu Gnome desktop, you will need to do the following to be able to use the screen sharing feature.

To log in to the “Ubuntu” session on your Ubuntu Linux PC, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Note: if you use Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Mate, or other Ubuntu flavors, you may need to open up a terminal window and run sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop before following the steps outlined below.

Step 1: Find the “log out” button in your app menu or taskbar, and click it to log out of the desktop environment you are currently using.

Step 2: After logging out of the other desktop environment, Ubuntu will take you back to the login screen. Look for a gear icon or a menu that lists all of the desktops available to log into on your Ubuntu PC.

Step 3: Look through the list of desktops available and select the “Ubuntu” option with the mouse. Your login screen will instantly switch to letting you log into the “Ubuntu” session.

Step 4: Select your user on the login screen, enter your password, and log in. You will then be presented with the classic Ubuntu desktop, and be able to use the screen sharing feature.

Enable screen share on Ubuntu

To enable the screen share feature in Ubuntu, do the following. First, press the Win key on the keyboard to start a search. After that, type in “Settings.” The Ubuntu desktop should instantly show “Settings.” Click on it with the mouse to access “Settings.”

Inside of the “Settings” window, find the “Sharing” section on the sidebar, and click it with the mouse to access Ubuntu’s “Sharing” settings.

Once inside of the “Sharing” settings on Ubuntu, look for a slider at the top-right section of the window. Click on it with the mouse. After that, find “Media Sharing” and select it to bring up “Screen Sharing” settings.

In “Screen Sharing” settings, click the slider on the left. It will instantly spin up a VNC screen sharing server in which anyone on your network can join.

When the VNC server is enabled, take the VNC address (without the “.local” part) and give it to the user you want to share your Ubuntu PC’s screen with.

Logging into the Ubuntu shared screen

To access the Ubuntu screen share, you must install a VNC client. So, go to the computer looking to access your Ubuntu session via the “Screen sharing” feature, and follow the instructions outlined below.

Note: if you are connecting to the Ubuntu shared screen session on Windows or Mac, head over to Alternativeto.net to find the correct VNC client.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install remmina

Debian

sudo apt-get install remmina

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S remmina

Fedora

sudo dnf install remmina

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install remmina

Flatpak

The Remmina VNC client is available to all Linux users via the Flathub Flatpak store. To install it, ensure that you have the Flatpak runtime set up on your system. Then, use the commands below to get the app working.

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
sudo flatpak run org.remmina.Remmina

Connecting to the screen share with Remmina

To connect to the Ubuntu screen share with the Remmina VNC client, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Launch Remmina and type out the VNC address into the address box.

Step 2: Once the VNC address is in the address bar, press the Enter key on the keyboard to initiate the connection to the Ubuntu PC hosting the screen share.

Step 3: Return to the Ubuntu PC, which is sharing the screen, and look at the notification center. Click the “Accept” option connection on the notification that appears when a VNC connection is initiated.

Step 4: Click the gear icon on the left-hand side and choose your connection quality.

Use Remmina to remotely use Ubuntu via it’s “Screen sharing” feature.

When you’re done using the remote connection close Remmina, it should automatically disconnect from the VNC server.

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