Using TightVNC on any Debian OS

These instructions explain how to view and control your Debian Linux machine’s graphical desktop from a remote location using TightVNC Viewer. TightVNC Viewer is free and can be installed on Windows, MacOS and Linux machines.

While tightvncserver can be installed on a Raspberry Pi running the Raspbian OS, we suggest that you use the RealVNC Server pre-installed on the latest versions of Raspbian, along with the RealVNC Viewer.  See: RealVNC Viewer from Windows to Raspberry Pi

Install tightvncserver on your Debian Linux machine to allow a network connection to its graphical desktop from a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine running TightVNC Viewer. Next, you’ll learn how to configure a Service that is compatible with tightvncserver so that you can easily connect to your machine's GUI from outside of your local network.

Works With:

  • Devices: Any Debian Linux machine, including Raspberry Pi running the Raspbian operating system.

  • Clients: Windows, Mac OS/X or Linux running TightVNC Viewer.

Installing the TightVNC server Virtual Network Console on your Debian device

In a terminal window on your Debian Family Linux machine, run the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

Next, launch tightvncserver with the command:

tightvncserver :1

tightvncserver will launch and ask you for a password, which you will use later for connection. You may also enter a different read-only password which will let you view the Linux machine's graphical desktop but not interact with it.

Next, confirm that tightvncserver is in fact running with the command:

ps ax grep tightvnc

Next, check which port tightvncserver is listening on with the command:

sudo netstat -lpn | grep tcp

This command will show all currently active tcp listeners (servers) running on your Linux machine. Look for Xtightvnc in the list. There may be more than one entry. If so, choose the one with the lowest port number. In the example shown below, that is port 5901. Make note of this port number as you will need it in the next section where you will be adding the Service.


Next, add a Service on port 5901.

Making a VNC connection using

Configure your VNC Service to:

  • Launch Type: Command.
  • Auto launch: off


Click on "Add to Network":


When the address is shown, click on the "Copy" icon to copy this address to the clipboard.


Here we are showing the address copied into TightVNC Viewer's cnnection dialog.


When you see the VNC Authentication dialog, enter your VNC password and click on “OK” to continue.


Now you are connected remotely to your device's UI.


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