~ read.

Setting VNC for remote access (with port forwarding)

My friend wanted to remotely work from school on her laptop. SSH wasn't enough for her, since she wanted to see whole IDE.

Since she is also using Linux (Arch Linux), we decided to use utility called VNC for that. It took me some time to figure out how to set it properly with whole port forwarding, since there is a little trick with that.

Whole process is really (surprisingly) simple!

Setting up a server

First we need to set up a server - the computer we want to connect to. In this guide we'll use tigervnc which can be found in repositories of all common linux distributions. It installs both - server and client.

Now just run in terminal:

vncserver :1

if this was the first time you run the vncserver, it will ask you for password which you'll use for connection. You can change it later by command vncpasswd.

Your server should be running now. You can kill it by:

vncserver -kill :1

and run it again to see if everything is working.

There is a lot of parameters with which is possible to run vncserver. You can find them in manual page or help.

Setting up a client

Just for testing purposes we're going to try to connect to the same computer. Find out you internal IP (e.g by ip addr) and type to terminal:

vncviewer your.ip.add.ress:1

it should ask for the password you entered earlier and after successful authorization new window should pop-up. It'll be probably black and nothing interesting will be seen. Never mind - we'll work on that in a minute :) . If you proceed here, VNC is successfully working and we just need to add some configuration.

We need to run some graphic environment after starting VNC session. VNC has an option for that in file ~/.vnc/xstartup. Make a backup of it and than edit original to your needs. My looks like this:


exec i3

because I'm using i3 window manager. If you use e.g. xfce4, add exec startxfce4 or you can try just startx.

When you try to login now using vncviewer, graphic environment of your choice should be started.

Again, there is bunch of parameters for vncviewer command, which can be found by reading it's help or manual page.

Setting up remote connection

Here I'll cover how to set up connection from outside of the world. You'll need to know how to do port forwarding on you router.

Remember when we started server by vncserver :1? The last part :1 is where you assign a port to be used for VNC. But the actual port IS NOT that number (number1** in this case). The actual port is 5900 + 1 = 5901. So when you type vncserver :<some_number>, vncserver is listening at 5900 + \.

I will continue with an example now. Let's say that our external IP is and our internal IP is and we want to run our VNC on port 12345. vncserver must be run with number equal to 12345-5900=6445.

  1. Run vncserver :6445
  2. Forward port 12345 to (don't change target port range - it's same).
  3. From a computer from which you want to connect type vncviewer

and that's it. Hope it helped a little :) .


Good thing to know is that you can display tigervnc menu by pressing F8. It can disable or enable full screen, display some additional info about connection, close connection etc.

Keyboard shortcuts are in this priority:

If shortcut has some action assigned on computer I'm pressing the keys, the action will take effect here. Otherwise, send them to remote computer.