VNC - Remote access and control of your Linux Desktop Environment

Note: 9/2014 - Due to the new version of Ubuntu (14.04) on our gateway machines and servers, you may need to update a file or your vnc desktop will not appear properly. If you have a problem viewing your desktop: 1) kill your vncserver process, 2) in your ssh terminal window, remove the following file ./vnc/xstartup (ie. rm ~/.vnc/xstartup) 3)restart the vncserver.

Our VNC Gateways provide graphical access to your network account desktop from anywhere on the internet.

Note: Since the gateways will have lots of users on them at the same time, be sure to never run heavy-duty computational software(e.g. Matlab) directly on the gateway. Run these jobs on the chivo cluster for graduate students, or on faculty desktops.

Setting up your VNC Service

Before you can connect, you must setup your VNC service.

Connecting to the VNC Gateway:

IMPORTANT: If you are connecting from off campus, you must first connect to the Math VPN, the UA VPN or use SSH Tunneling.

In the instructions below, wherever we write hostname, graduate students should substitute phoenix or use a chivo for compute intensive jobs, and faculty should subsitute dragon.

The VNC Viewer is a program you run on your local machine which connects to the VNC Gateway so you can interact with it.

  • Microsoft Windows VNC Viewer - TightVNC Viewer [Download]
  • Mac OS X VNC Viewer - Chicken of the VNC [Download]

To connect, launch the viewer, and for the host, type:

   hostname.math.arizona.edu:59xx

where xx is your VNC number, provided to you when you setup your VNC Service. You will be asked for the password you created when you setup your VNC Service.

For Linux, VNC can be launched from the command line with the following command:

   vncviewer hostname.math.arizona.edu:59xx

where xx is your VNC number, provided to you when you setup your VNC Service. You will be asked for the password you created when you setup your VNC Service.

How to disconnect

To disconnect from (i.e., stop viewing) your remote desktop, simply close the viewer (the outermost window).

There is no need to close individual windows inside your virtual desktop, nor is there a need to log out of the Gnome session inside your virtual desktop. (In fact, if you accidentally do this, then you must kill your remote desktop and create a new one.)