Enabling remote desktop access on Ubuntu 20.04 can be a useful feature, whether you want to access your Ubuntu machine from another computer within your local network or remotely over the internet. Remote desktop allows you to control your Ubuntu system as if you were sitting right in front of it, making it convenient for tasks such as troubleshooting or accessing files and applications.
In this blog post, we will explore the different methods to enable remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04. We will provide step-by-step instructions and discuss the pros and cons of each method. By the end of this article, you will be able to choose the method that best suits your needs and successfully enable remote desktop on your Ubuntu 20.04 system.
The Challenge of Enabling Remote Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04
Enabling remote desktop access on Ubuntu 20.04 might seem like a daunting task, especially for users who are new to Linux or Ubuntu. The challenge lies in configuring the necessary settings and security measures to allow remote access while ensuring that your system remains protected.
Protecting your system from unauthorized access is crucial when enabling remote desktop. You need to be aware of the potential risks and take appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorized access to your Ubuntu system.
Things You Should Prepare for
Before we proceed with the different methods to enable remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04, there are a few things you should prepare for:
1. Ensure that you have administrative access: You will need administrative privileges to make the necessary changes and configurations on your Ubuntu system.
2. Familiarize yourself with your network setup: Depending on whether you want to access your Ubuntu system within your local network or over the internet, you need to understand your network setup and make any necessary adjustments, such as port forwarding.
3. Choose a secure password: When enabling remote desktop, it is essential to have a strong and secure password to prevent unauthorized access.
Now that you are ready, let’s explore the different methods to enable remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04.
Method 1: Via the Sharing Settings
Enabling remote desktop via the Sharing Settings is the simplest method for enabling remote access on Ubuntu 20.04. This method relies on the built-in Vino server, which provides remote access capabilities.
1. Open the "Settings" application from the application launcher or by pressing the "Super" key and typing "Settings".
2. In the Settings window, select "Sharing" from the left sidebar.
3. In the Sharing settings, toggle the "Screen Sharing" switch to ON.
4. Under "Screen Sharing," you can configure additional settings such as allowing access for specific users or enabling "Require a password" for remote access.
5. Once you have configured the settings, other devices on your local network can connect to your Ubuntu system using a VNC client.
1. Easy to set up and configure.
2. Built-in functionality within Ubuntu.
3. Allows access from other devices on the local network.
4. Provides basic security features such as password authentication.
1. Limited to local network access only.
2. Requires additional configuration for internet access.
3. May not provide advanced security features.
Method 2: Via VNC Server
Another method to enable remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04 is by using a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) server. VNC servers allow you to access your Ubuntu system from remote locations over the internet.
Before we proceed, you will need to install a VNC server on your Ubuntu system. One popular VNC server for Ubuntu is "TigerVNC."
1. Open a terminal by pressing "Ctrl + Alt + T" or searching for "Terminal" in the application launcher.
2. Update your system’s package list by running the following command:
sudo apt update
3. Install the VNC server by running the following command:
sudo apt install tigervnc-standalone-server
4. Once the installation is complete, run the following command to set up a VNC password:
Enter a secure password and remember it for future use.
5. Next, start the VNC server by running the following command:
The server will start, and it will display the VNC port number, such as ":1".
6. To access your Ubuntu system remotely, you will need a VNC client. Install a VNC client on the remote device, enter the IP address of your Ubuntu system, along with the VNC port number, and connect using the VNC password you set earlier.
1. Allows remote access over the internet.
2. Provides more flexibility for accessing your Ubuntu system from anywhere.
3. Multiple VNC server options available for installation.
4. Can provide additional security features depending on the chosen VNC server.
1. Requires installing and configuring a separate VNC server.
2. May require port forwarding on your router for internet access.
3. Managing security and authentication is the responsibility of the chosen VNC server.
Method 3: Via xRDP
xRDP is another method to enable remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04. xRDP utilizes the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to allow remote access from other devices, including Windows.
1. Open a terminal and update your system’s package list by running the following command:
sudo apt update
2. Install xRDP by running the following command:
sudo apt install xrdp
3. Once the installation is complete, start the xRDP service by running the following command:
sudo systemctl start xrdp
4. To ensure that xRDP starts automatically on system boot, run the following command:
sudo systemctl enable xrdp
5. Next, open the "Remote Desktop" application from the application launcher or by pressing the "Super" key and typing "Remote Desktop".
6. In the Remote Desktop preferences, toggle the "Sharing" switch to ON.
7. You can also configure additional settings such as allowing access for specific users or enabling "Require a password" for remote access.
8. Once you have configured the settings, other devices, including Windows machines, can connect to your Ubuntu system using the Windows Remote Desktop client or any RDP client of their choice.
1. Allows remote access from Windows machines using the RDP protocol.
2. Easy to set up and configure.
3. Provides advanced features such as file sharing between the local and remote systems.
4. Can utilize the security features of the RDP protocol.
1. Limited to RDP-compatible clients.
2. May require additional configuration for internet access.
3. Managing security and authentication is the responsibility of the xRDP service.
Method 4: Via SSH with X11 Forwarding
If you are comfortable working with the command line interface, you can enable remote desktop access on Ubuntu 20.04 via SSH with X11 forwarding. This method allows you to securely access your Ubuntu system and launch graphical applications remotely.
1. First, ensure that SSH is installed on your Ubuntu system. Open a terminal and run the following command to install SSH if it is not already installed:
sudo apt install openssh-server
2. Once SSH is installed, edit the SSH server configuration file by running the following command:
sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config
3. Within the file, locate the line that begins with "X11Forwarding" and make sure it is set to "yes". If not, change it accordingly:
4. Save the file and exit the text editor.
5. Restart the SSH service for the changes to take effect by running the following command:
sudo systemctl restart ssh
6. Now, on your local machine, open an SSH client (such as PuTTY for Windows) and connect to your Ubuntu system using its IP address and your username/password.
7. Once connected, you can launch graphical applications by simply typing their names in the SSH terminal.
1. Secure remote access method.
2. Allows launching graphical applications remotely.
3. Utilizes the existing SSH infrastructure.
4. No additional software installation required on the remote device.
1. Limited to running individual graphical applications.
2. Does not provide full desktop access.
3. Requires command line knowledge for launching specific applications.
Why Can’t I Enable Remote Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04
There could be several reasons why you may encounter difficulties when trying to enable remote desktop access on Ubuntu 20.04. Here are a few common reasons and their potential fixes:
Q1: Why can’t I enable remote desktop via the Sharing Settings method?
A: Ensure that the Vino server is installed on your Ubuntu system by running the following command:
sudo apt install vino
If it is already installed, try restarting the Vino server by running the following command:
vino-server –kill; vino-server
Q2: Why can’t I access my Ubuntu system remotely over the internet?
A: Check if your router has port forwarding configured correctly for the chosen method (VNC, xRDP, or SSH). Consult your router’s documentation or refer to online resources on how to set up port forwarding.
Q3: Why do I get a "Connection refused" error when trying to connect remotely?
A: Ensure that the firewall on your Ubuntu system allows incoming connections on the required ports. You can configure the firewall using the "ufw" command-line tool or install a graphical firewall utility for easier management.
Here are some additional tips to enhance your remote desktop experience on Ubuntu 20.04:
1. Use a VPN: If you are accessing your Ubuntu system remotely over the internet, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your connection and protect your data.
2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication: For an added layer of security, enable two-factor authentication on your Ubuntu system. This will require an additional verification step when logging in remotely.
3. Use a Strong Password: Ensure that you have a strong and unique password for your Ubuntu system. Avoid using common or easily guessable passwords.
5 FAQs about Enabling Remote Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04
Q1: Can I access my Ubuntu system from a Mac using these methods?
A: Yes, you can use VNC clients compatible with macOS, such as RealVNC or TigerVNC, to access your Ubuntu system.
Q2: Do I need a static IP address to enable remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04?
A: While having a static IP address makes it easier to connect remotely, it is not a requirement. You can use dynamic DNS services or configure your router to update your IP address automatically.
Q3: Are there any security risks associated with enabling remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04?
A: Remote desktop access can pose security risks if not properly configured. Ensure that you use strong passwords, enable encryption, and keep your system and software up to date to minimize the risks.
Q4: Can I enable remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04 without installing any additional software?
A: Yes, the built-in Sharing Settings method allows you to enable remote desktop without installing additional software. However, for more advanced features and flexibility, installing additional software may be necessary.
Q5: Can I access a specific application on my Ubuntu system remotely, rather than the entire desktop?
A: Yes, if you are using SSH with X11 forwarding, you can launch specific graphical applications remotely without accessing the entire desktop.
Enabling remote desktop access on Ubuntu 20.04 can greatly enhance your productivity and convenience. Whether you choose the built-in Sharing Settings, a VNC server, xRDP, or SSH with X11 forwarding, each method has its advantages and considerations. Assess your needs, prioritize security, and follow the instructions provided to enable remote desktop access on your Ubuntu 20.04 system. Remember to take appropriate security measures to protect your system from unauthorized access.