UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Staff/Student Intranet

Remote access to a linux desktop from a Windows PC

How to remotely access your running Linux desktop

In the following instructions HOSTNAME will refer to the hostname of the departmental linux desktop PC you are attempting to connect to.

On your departmental linux PC you will need to open a terminal window and type the following to start a X11vnc server:

x11vnc -ncache 10 -usepw

The first time you do this it will ask you to enter a password. Set whatever password you want and then chose to save the password in the default location when prompted.

If you are outside of the department you can ssh to ssh.ee.ucl.ac.uk (We recommend the Putty windows SSH client - http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/latest.html), then from that window type "ssh HOSTNAME" and run the command above.

On your personal Windows PC you will need to run putty:

  • Start putty, Click on "SSH" >> "Tunnels".
  • In source port put "5900"
  • In destination put "hostname.ee.ucl.ac.uk:5900"
  • Click on the "Add" button.
  • On the left hand menu, click on "sessions" at the top and then in the "hostname" section enter "ssh.ee.ucl.ac.uk"
  • In the "Saved Sessions" box type a name for this session (something like "Remote Connection to UCL HOSTNAME" and click on the "Save" button.
  • Click on Open and you should be asked to login to ssh.ee.ucl.ac.uk with your usual userid/password. (From now on when you start putty you can just choose the saved session and hit the "Load" button followed by "Open").

Now you have a SSH connection to the department with an SSH tunnel via port 5900 to HOSTNAME.ee.ucl.ac.uk:5900 (the x11vnc port).

You will need to have a VNC client installed on your PC. We usually use TightVNC, but any VNC client should be OK

Install with all the defaults and then start the VNC Viewer.

Enter the host as and connect.

This will attempt to connect you to the local 5900 port which is already tunnelled through to HOSTNAME.ee.ucl.ac.uk:5900, so you should be prompted to enter the password you entered when starting your x11vnc server on HOSTNAME.

Enter the correct password and you should see your remote desktop window as you left it.

Warning You should only start the x11vncserver on HOSTNAME when you need it and close it immediately when you have finished with it