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Updated by Christian Cawley on March 30th, 2017

Do you need to connect to your computer remotely? Perhaps you’re in a different room, and need to grab a file from it — as long as you’re on the same network, this should be easy to do, regardless of which operating system you’re using.

Many Linux users see SSH as their remote connection Beginner's Guide To Setting Up SSH On Linux And Testing Your Setup Beginner's Guide To Setting Up SSH On Linux And Testing Your Setup Arguably one of the most important Linux utilities to learn is SSH as you can control a different machine as if you were sitting directly at it. We'll take you through a basic installation. Read More tool of choice, but if you prefer a graphical user interface (GUI) to the command line, don’t worry: Ubuntu provides an option for you as well.

Using Ubuntu Remote Desktop gives you total control over your desktop from any other computer: Linux, macOS, or Windows. You’ll see what’s on that screen and be able to move the mouse, and even type! Best of all, the feature is built into the operating system by default, so you won’t have to install a thing.

Let’s check it out!

Turning Ubuntu Remote Desktop On

Simply put, turning on Ubuntu’s version of Remote Desktop could not be easier. You don’t need to install a thing: everything you need is built in. Click Search and enter desktop sharing, then click Desktop Sharing.  You’ll be presented with a simple window of options.

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Just check the Allow other users to view your desktop option. If you want other users to be able to control your computer, also click the Allow other users to control your desktop button.

This window also provides you with a couple of security options. It’s highly recommended that you enable a password, but at the very least you should set it so that anyone connecting to your machine needs your permission before continuing.

As soon as you enable remote connection you’ll be told your IP address How to Trace an IP Address to a PC & How to Find Your Own How to Trace an IP Address to a PC & How to Find Your Own Want to see the IP address of your computer? Perhaps you want to discover where another computer is situated? Various free tools are available that tell you more about a computer an its IP address. Read More on the local network. Write this down.

Ubuntu’s remote desktop technology is based on the existing VNC standard. This means you can connect to a Ubuntu remote desktop using any VNC client. There are more than a few VNC clients around, so if you have a favorite on any platform you can use that to connect to Ubuntu already. You can also use VNC (as well as SSH) to connect to a Raspberry Pi computer VNC, SSH and HDMI: Three Options for Viewing Your Raspberry Pi VNC, SSH and HDMI: Three Options for Viewing Your Raspberry Pi The Raspberry Pi is a remarkable little computer, but it can be time consuming to set it up and connect it to your monitor. Read More .

If you don’t have a favorite keep reading; you’ll find one by the time you’re done.

Connecting From Ubuntu/Linux

Ubuntu, and most Linux distributions, comes with an excellent VNC-compatible remote desktop viewer by default.

You can find this program by clicking Search and entering remote.  The first result, Remmina Remote Desktop Client is the tool you need. Here, enter the IP address for a device on your network. VNC, SSH, RDP, and NX are all connection protocols you can use here, via the drop-down menu on the left. (If you connect via SSH, you’ll see a screen like the one above; click OK to proceed if you’re happy the target computer is safe.)

As you add devices, they’ll be saved in the list so you can quickly access them in future.

Use this tool to connect to other Ubuntu desktops on your network, and you’ll be controlling that computer remotely. The tool can also be used to control any computer with a VNC client installed.

Connecting From Windows

Want to control your Ubuntu computer from a Windows computer? Don’t worry; it’s more than possible. You’ll just need to install a VNC client, such as TightVNCViewer, on your Windows computer. Then you can connect to your Ubuntu machine by entering your IP address. Check our guide about establishing a remote desktop connection to Ubuntu from Windows for full details.

Connecting From macOS

Mac users wanting to connect to their Ubuntu machines should use the built-in VNC Viewer tool. Again, connecting to your Ubuntu machine is a simple matter of entering your IP address, but if you’re looking for some in-depth information about using VNC on a Mac you should check out Jackson’s article on easy remote desktop support on the Mac. How to Setup Easy Remote Support on the Mac How to Setup Easy Remote Support on the Mac Read More

Can You Connect Away From Home?

Want to connect to your Ubuntu machine while away from work? This is a little more tricky, but not totally impossible. You’re going to need a static IP, or a dynamic address from a service such as DynDNS. I could get into it here, but I’ve already written an article about using DynDNS to connect to your computer from anywhere Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Connect To Your Home PCs From Anywhere With DynDNS Read More with more than enough information to get you started. Best of all, that article already deals with VNC in a couple of examples.

There you have it: everything you wanted to know about Ubuntu’s remote desktop feature but were afraid to ask. Do these tricks work for you? Do you have a preferred VNC client that I failed to touch on? Do you have any tips to share with the crew? Don’t be shy; comment away!

Image Credit: Minerva Studio via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Anonymous
    July 26, 2015 at 7:39 am

    It isn't there in Ubuntu 12.04. There's no "Settings", just "System Settings" and no "Preferences" under it.

  2. Matthew
    May 2, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    A bit dated now, these days we might not be able to click on anything if the machine is a vps, so how to do this from the command line over SSH would be useful ?

    • Justin Pot
      May 3, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      I might have to look into this, thanks for the note. I wrote this article 5 years ago.

  3. Aibek
    April 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Hi Mehdi

    Why don't you ask how to get it done on MakeUseOf Answers,
    http://www.makeuseof.com/answe...

    I am sure you will get a few tips from our team.

    Aibek

  4. mehdi
    April 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    HI,
    Is it possible to post a tutorial on how to start the vnc server on boot. The problem is that if I logout from my ubuntu machine , I cannot access it remotely from vnc and get to the gnome desktop to open my session.
    Thanks a lot if you can help.

  5. mehdi
    April 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    HI,
    Is it possible to post a tutorial on how to start the vnc server on boot. The problem is that if I logout from my ubuntu machine , I cannot access it remotely from vnc and get to the gnome desktop to open my session.
    Thanks a lot if you can help.

    • Aibek
      April 27, 2010 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Mehdi

      Why don't you ask how to get it done on MakeUseOf Answers,
      http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/.

      I am sure you will get a few tips from our team.

      Aibek

  6. FritzPinguin
    April 23, 2010 at 4:35 am

    In the meantime Teamviewer for Linux is available and works perfectly for controlling Windows from Linux and vice versa.

  7. rgarcia
    March 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I want to connect to my Ubuntu desktop via VNC from my Nintendo Wii. Any ideas? I tried the above, but the Wii just keeps looking for the PC and then times out.

    • Justin Pot
      March 30, 2010 at 10:02 am

      You're a few steps ahead of me, because I didn't even know there was a VNC viewer for a Wii. What program are you using?

      • Simon
        April 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm

        VNC for wii is only possible if the "homebrew channel" is installed.

  8. ummysalu
    March 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    This is not Ubuntu Remote Desktop, this is Gnome Remote Desktop, all the linux steps of this article apply to any recent Gnome desktop (fedora, suse, ...) and not only Ubuntu.

  9. Robert M
    March 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    If I remember correctly, I was able to use Teamviewer on Ubuntu via WINE to access other machines without any problems. It has been a while since I've tried it out so IDK if it still works.