HOW TO: Setup a very basic Debian VNC server (XFCE4 Desktop)

For those of you who are interested in adding a GUI to your server that you can connect remotely and do various tasks, this is a very basic method and works on our 128MB plans, if you have a bigger plan you can use more "flashy" desktops, but we find XFCE4 is plenty.

  1. SSH into your Debian based VPS and install VNCServer and XFCE4 (if you will be using your VPS to browse websites then also install your browser of choice, for this tutorial we'll use IceWeasel). If you encounter any prompts, just hit enter, Y, or next.
    apt-get install vnc4server
    apt-get install xfce4
    apt-get install iceweasel
  2. Add startxfce4 to the VNCServer startup file.
    mkdir /etc/vnc
    vi /etc/vnc/xstartup
  3. Reboot your VPS, when it starts back up start VNCServer with the following command in SSH (first time running the command will have you setup a VNC password):
    vncserver
  4. Login to your VPS with your VNC client of choice (we use TightVNC Viewer) using your VPS IP on port 1 (1.1.1.1:1) and VNC password. After logging in, you should see a blank desktop with a single terminal window, in the window type the following to start your XFCE Desktop:
    xfdesktop
  5. Right-click to view your menu and enjoy!
If you ever find yourself without a terminal window, you can use Alt + F2 to bring up a "Run program" window and run xfdesktop from there.
 
That's it! Like we said, it's a very basic desktop but should be suitable for the majority of tasks you need to handle. Our install shows 52MB of RAM usage when logged in which isn't bad, a little tweaking of the appearance settings and you can probably cut that down by quite a bit.
 
This tutorial was made using our Debian 5 i386 Optimized template.
This tutorial used this site for reference.
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