So I've been trying for the past day to get my Ubuntu server to boot to desktop without a monitor connected to it. If it doesn't boot to the desktop, the vino server won't start. Which in result makes the VNC server not start.

I've tried to add a dummy monitor, followed this tutorial (tried to change the folder where the xorg.conf file was in, to no avail), either it hangs in the boot screen, or it simply boots me to the login screen.

I have enabled automatic login for my user in the settings page and in the GDM config, so when a monitor is attached to my server, I'm automatically put to the desktop. But, when a monitor isn't attached, it opens the login screen where I have to manually click "Login" for the VNC server to start.

So I'm wondering if there is a good way of making a remote desktop connection to a headless Ubuntu server.

  • X server on your local machine and a SSH tunnel.
    – ivanivan
    Mar 11, 2017 at 19:13
  • I'm sorry, would you care to elaborate? You mean like boot into the terminal, then start the x server? Or like this?
    – AkASlow
    Mar 11, 2017 at 19:35
  • possible duplicate: superuser.com/questions/147109/… superuser.com/questions/184596/…
    – quixotic
    Mar 11, 2017 at 20:04
  • Been following this tutorial right now, and my VNC Server is started on boot, which is what I wanted. But when connecting to the server, it shows a weird screen like this. Anyone got any suggestions on what might be causing this? Thanks again!
    – AkASlow
    Mar 11, 2017 at 21:11
  • It seems that you have an XY Problem.  You’re asking how to make a remote desktop connection to a headless Ubuntu server.  It seems that you want to know how to get the vino and VNC servers to start automatically on a headless Ubuntu server; if so, you should ask that. Apr 24, 2017 at 10:53

2 Answers 2


Regarding the weird screen you are getting: (placing this as answer because of rep needed ':D )

I think in order to solve the grey screen problem, you should try this:

# apt-get install xubuntu-desktop xfce4

from this tutorial.

Hope this helps.

As a note for anyone else reaching this and having been confused and confounded in trying to get vncserver to actually boot: in this tutorial, the startup script does not actually start the vncserver on boot, but the tutorial followed by the OP does.


I was also having issues trying to get vncserver to work on a headless xubuntu computer, although I did not experience the login issue; my install was basically fresh, not sure if that has anything to do with it. For me the computer would simply hang at startup without a monitor attached. Regardless, I found a very simple solution.

Make a backup of your default grub file:

sudo cp /etc/default/grub /etc/default/grub.old

Then edit the active grub file sudo nano /etc/default/grub as follows:


And uncomment (remove '#') on GRUB_TERMINAL=console

Finally save, and then update grub sudo update-grub and restart without a monitor attached.

I saw some tutorials use GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="text" but this is what causes the issues for vnc users. Note that your GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="" line may differ with some necessary commands, add them back if you need to.

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