Enable Screen Sharing on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Desktop via VNC from Windows Machines

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This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to remotely access Ubuntu 18.04 LTS desktop from Windows or other Linux machines using VNC protocol and clients. Although Remote Desktop Connections isn’t enabled for Linux systems, Windows users may use other protocols like VNC to connect to Ubuntu desktop.

Before one can access Ubuntu desktops remotely, one must enable remote access on the Ubuntu desktops. to do that, the steps below should be a great place to start.

Remote access allows anyone with account and access to connect and manage devices remotely from across the room or locations around the world. This is true with Microsoft Remote Desktop connection, VNC or TeamViewer.

The steps below should get you started on Ubuntu.

Step 1: Enable Remote Access to Ubuntu

Ubuntu machines by default have the protocol and server installed already. To enable remote access, logon to the desktop computer and go to System Menu ==> System Settings. as shown in the image below.

ubuntu dash dock

When system settings page opens, go to Sharing ==> Enable sharing by sliding the button to the right.

ubuntu sharing vnc

When sharing is enable, click the Screen Sharing option on the page and turn on Screen Sharing  as shown in the image below.

ubuntu sharing screen

When you’re done, close out. Ubuntu is sharing will be enabled. now continue below to learn how to connect to Ubuntu from Windows.

Step 2: Connecting to Ubuntu

Now that Screen Sharing is enabled, choose the remote access client to connect to Ubuntu. For other Ubuntu systems, search for Remmina Remote Desktop Client. This is an opensource client that probably installed on all Linux systems. Use it to connect to other Ubuntu desktop remotely.

For Windows system, you will want to use VNC client to connect. Microsoft Remote Desktop Connections won’t work here, so you must use VNC or other compatible remote connection clients to work with Ubuntu.

To enable access outside of your local network, you must setup your firewall to forward the traffic to the Ubuntu desktop via a specific port number. Normally port 5900.

You will also want to run the commands below to disable encryption for Remote sharing. This feature creates problems for Windows machine while connecting.

sudo gsettings set org.gnome.Vino require-encryption false

When you’re done, test it out. Find the Ubuntu desktop computer IP address and test. If everything was setup correctly, you should be able to access the Ubuntu desktop remotely.

This is how one enable Ubuntu remote desktop access.


This post shows students and new users how to enable Ubuntu remote desktop access. Once enabled, users will be able to connect remotely from other computers to the Ubuntu desktop. For Windows systems, folks will have to use VNC or other compatible VNC protocol clients.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Connections client won’t work here.


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  1. hey man, this just dosent work for me, the option of screen sharing dont show up after enabling sharing option.

    1. Kewen: i had the same problem but with full installation it worked for me, but not with minimal.
      Probabaly something is missing with minimal…

      1. You’ll need Vino:

        sudo apt install vino

        1. Installing vino worked for me !

        2. Doesn’t work. I go and switch sharing on, nothing happens. If i navigate away and back, sharing has changed back to off. Installing vino made no difference.

      2. Diego J. González

        That’s because communitty theme does not support desktop sharing option

  2. I have sharing option but no screen sharing option. I have installed Ubuntu 18.04 minimal.

  3. Just found my mistake. I was using Wayland instead of the default Xorg.

    1. Thanks.. I was trying to enable sharing for my user. But, nothing seems to work till now. This worked for me..

  4. Help? Vino refuses to share on local network if there is no internet access (I use static IP, no dhcp or gateway). Seriously?? Anyone got a workaround for this bug? TIA!

    1. Ok, got it working eventually. For everyone running into the same problem, you’ll have to set the gateway and dns to the same static ip address as your machine, then it works. If any of them are empty, Bionic refuses to recognize the connection as functional, eventhough ping worked just fine. Earlier Ubuntus were happy with just ip and netmask, but not anymore apparently.

      1. Thank you! I couldn’t find the proper topic through google but I’m so glad I saw your comment. Maybe I just don’t know enough about DNS and Gateway settings but coming from an old version of Ubuntu, I thought all I needed to do was set the IP addresses properly. Setting the Ubuntu DNS and Gateway to the IP address of the machine I was using solved my issue.

      2. Thank you soooo much! After days and days of search I finally bumped into this comment: it should be at the beginning of Google results!

  5. Experiencing the issue with require-encryption as described, using RealVNC and TightVNC on the client side. However the change to Vino settings didn’t make a difference. Any ideas?

    1. Same problem as IAN…

  6. After spending an absolute age hacking on this I eventually gave up and switched to using x11vnc. And people wonder why linux desktops don’t make it mainstream.

  7. I initially had this issue as well. You need to reboot after disabling the encryption using the above command.

    1. +1 on the reboot thing…cheers.

    2. Spiderman's Pile of Ashes

      You are a saint, just didn’t reboot after disabling the encryption. Initially my windows-UltraVNC client would connect, but just got a large grey screen until after the reboot you suggested. Thanks!

  8. Raphael Castilho Gil

    Hello, I would like to understand for different users.
    How to configure vino server to have different connections for each user?
    I did not find the answer

    Thank you

  9. how to enable it via command line?

    1. +1 enable via command line

  10. I am able to SSH to the 18.04 Ubuntu desktop. however, desktop sharing is not working using the above step, trying to connect using VNC Viewer from Windows.
    – any additional steps I am missing here.

  11. Aleksey Shcherbina

    Doeas anybody know hot to set up VNC server (vino?) under Xubuntu 18.04 LTS?

  12. Hi, Is there a way to set “Allow connections to control the screen” option via command line ?

  13. This doesn’t work unless you’ve already logged in locally. How do I start VNC server at boot?

    1. systemctl –user enable vino-server

      systemctl –user start vino-server

      The enable command should make it auto-restart after a reboot + login.

      The start will start it now.

      To see whether it is defined, use:

      systemctl –user list

  14. A comment about the “gsettings” command in the instructions; it should not be run using sudo, as it would set it for the root user, and not the current user, provided the current user is not root.

    1. You saved my whole entire year man. Thanks

    2. This was the crucial step that I was missing! +1 to the comment above! Do not run the command with sudo

    3. was that i was missing!

  15. And for those asking about starting things from the command line, check the following discussion on the topic:

  16. “To enable access outside of your local network, you must setup your firewall to forward the traffic to the Ubuntu desktop via a specific port number. Normally port 5900.”

    How to setup it. I can access in local network but fail when connecting from my home network. Thanks

    1. If it’s a work firewall, you probably won’t be able to do that unless the network admin is your buddy… and can open port 5900 for you.

  17. Use noMachine platform independent

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