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I have done much research and attempted fixes on this issue, mostly involving tweaking the xstartup file. I've tried alternative VNC clients (UltraVNC and TightVNC) from a Windows 7 computer, with the same results for each client.

Basically, I get either a blank grey screen with only an arrow cursor, or a failure to connect at all.

I also tried a different VNC server (VNC4server) but abandoned that because, although I could connect, I got an error every time on the client window. And Tightvnc seems more widely used and user-supported.

I find that, almost regardless of what I put in the ~/.vnc/xstartup file (for example, even if it has just one line (startkde &) it will work if I specify "root" as the VNC user. But then I'm logged in as root and I need instead to follow standard *nix practice of being logged in as a non-root user. So, the issue does appear to relate to privileges. However, I check for correct ownership and executable flags on files after every time I edit them.

I read somewhere that the latest Tightvnc server will not allow KDE desktop to be started if there is already a desktop session running on the host (user logged in), so I start the host machine without anyone logged in. I have configured Tightvnc server as a service.

My current xstartup file follows, but like I said, I have already attempted many variants of these lines, commenting out nearly everything, from suggestions gathered on the internet.

#!/bin/sh

# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
unset SESSION_MANAGER
exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc &
# unset DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS

[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources

xsetroot -solid grey
vncconfig -iconic &
x-terminal-emulator -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
# x-window-manager &
exec startkde &

Here is the service file, /lib/systemd/system/tightvncserver.service :

[Unit]
Description=TightVNC remote desktop server
After=sshd.service

[Service]
Type=dbus
ExecStart=/usr/bin/vncserver -geometry 1024x768 -depth 24 :1
User=vnc
Type=forking

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Here is the log after one reboot of the host followed by one connection attempt:

14/03/16 01:37:46 Xvnc version TightVNC-1.3.9
14/03/16 01:37:46 Copyright (C) 2000-2007 TightVNC Group
14/03/16 01:37:46 Copyright (C) 1999 AT&T Laboratories Cambridge
14/03/16 01:37:46 All Rights Reserved.
14/03/16 01:37:46 See http://www.tightvnc.com/ for information on TightVNC
14/03/16 01:37:46 Desktop name 'X' (test:1)
14/03/16 01:37:46 Protocol versions supported: 3.3, 3.7, 3.8, 3.7t, 3.8t
14/03/16 01:37:46 Listening for VNC connections on TCP port 5901
/home/vnc/.vnc/xstartup: 12: /home/vnc/.vnc/xstartup: vncconfig: not found
x-terminal-emulator: Unknown option 'ls'.
x-terminal-emulator: Use --help to get a list of available command line options.
Error: cannot create directory "/tmp/ksocket-vncw1nXNU": File exists
startkde: Starting up...
kdeinit4: Aborting. bind() failed: Address already in use
Could not bind to socket '/tmp/ksocket-vncGcyXe4/kdeinit4__1'

14/03/16 01:38:09 Got connection from client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:09 Using protocol version 3.8
14/03/16 01:38:14 Full-control authentication passed by 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:14 Pixel format for client 192.168.10.10:
14/03/16 01:38:14 32 bpp, depth 24, little endian
14/03/16 01:38:14 true colour: max r 255 g 255 b 255, shift r 16 g 8 b 0
14/03/16 01:38:14 no translation needed
14/03/16 01:38:14 Using hextile encoding for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 19
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 18
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 17
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 16
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 10
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 9
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 8
14/03/16 01:38:14 Using compression level 6 for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:14 Enabling full-color cursor updates for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:14 Enabling cursor position updates for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:14 Using image quality level 6 for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -65530
14/03/16 01:38:14 Enabling LastRect protocol extension for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -223
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32768
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32767
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32764
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32766
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32765
14/03/16 01:38:14 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -1063131698
14/03/16 01:38:43 Client 192.168.10.10 gone
14/03/16 01:38:43 Statistics:
14/03/16 01:38:43 key events received 0, pointer events 260
14/03/16 01:38:43 framebuffer updates 2, rectangles 5, bytes 776789
14/03/16 01:38:43 cursor shape updates 2, bytes 4920
14/03/16 01:38:43 cursor position updates 1, bytes 12
14/03/16 01:38:43 hextile rectangles 2, bytes 771857
14/03/16 01:38:43 raw bytes equivalent 6291480, compression ratio 8.151095

Any ideas?

[EDIT, 2014/03/14, 1409 UTC]: I forgot to mention that I had it working error-free with XFCE desktop. But I much prefer KDE, and I wish to get that working if at all possible.

[EDIT, 2014/03/14, 2216 UTC]: This is a follow-up to Paul H.'s suggestion, I'm putting it here because the mini-formatting of comments doesn't seem to allow blockquotes and images.

Thank you, that got me further. After I give the "startkde &" command, the client window opens with a sensible-looking desktop that is starting to load and gets this far before closing (note the error message in top left):

Notice the error message in top left

The log is as follows:

14/03/16 21:32:11 Desktop name 'X' (test:1)
14/03/16 21:32:11 Protocol versions supported: 3.3, 3.7, 3.8, 3.7t, 3.8t
14/03/16 21:32:11 Listening for VNC connections on TCP port 5901
QDBusConnection: session D-Bus connection created before QCoreApplication. Application may misbehave.
QDBusConnection: session D-Bus connection created before QCoreApplication. Application may misbehave.

14/03/16 21:32:37 Got connection from client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:37 Using protocol version 3.8
14/03/16 21:32:47 Full-control authentication passed by 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:47 Pixel format for client 192.168.10.10:
14/03/16 21:32:47 32 bpp, depth 24, little endian
14/03/16 21:32:47 true colour: max r 255 g 255 b 255, shift r 16 g 8 b 0
14/03/16 21:32:47 no translation needed
14/03/16 21:32:47 Using hextile encoding for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 19
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 18
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 17
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 16
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 10
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 9
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding 8
14/03/16 21:32:47 Using compression level 6 for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:47 Enabling full-color cursor updates for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:47 Enabling cursor position updates for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:47 Using image quality level 6 for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -65530
14/03/16 21:32:47 Enabling LastRect protocol extension for client 192.168.10.10
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -223
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32768
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32767
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32764
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32766
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -32765
14/03/16 21:32:47 rfbProcessClientNormalMessage: ignoring unknown encoding -1063131698
Connecting to deprecated signal QDBusConnectionInterface::serviceOwnerChanged(QString,QString,QString)
QDBusConnection: session D-Bus connection created before QCoreApplication. Application may misbehave.
QDBusConnection: session D-Bus connection created before QCoreApplication. Application may misbehave.
kbuildsycoca4 running...
kbuildsycoca4(989) KBuildSycoca::checkTimestamps: checking file timestamps
kbuildsycoca4(989) KBuildSycoca::checkTimestamps: timestamps check ok
kbuildsycoca4(989) kdemain: Emitting notifyDatabaseChanged ()
QDBusConnection: session D-Bus connection created before QCoreApplication. Application may misbehave.
QDBusConnection: session D-Bus connection created before QCoreApplication. Application may misbehave.
Object::connect: No such signal org::freedesktop::UPower::DeviceAdded(QString)
Object::connect: No such signal org::freedesktop::UPower::DeviceRemoved(QString)
QDBusConnection: name 'org.freedesktop.UDisks2' had owner '' but we thought it was ':1.11'
klauncher: Exiting on signal 15
knotify4: Fatal IO error: client killed
kded4: Fatal IO error: client killed
konsole: Fatal IO error: client killed
konsole(902) Konsole::SessionManager::~SessionManager: Konsole SessionManager destroyed with sessions still alive

The first error message, ending with "application may misbehave," is supposed to be unimportant, from the bug reports I have seen. The rest, I'm not sure about..

0

KDE works with tightvncserver on my system. Try this xstartup:

#!/bin/sh
unset SESSION_MANAGER 
xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
xsetroot -solid grey
export XKL_XMODMAP_DISABLE=1
konsole &

You should get a terminal window when you connect thru VNC. Then try startkde & from the terminal and see if it starts. If it doesn't, note what the error messages are in the terminal and go from there. If it does start, you can try adding startkde & to the end of the xstartup script and try again.

Here is a minimal xstartup that worked for me using vnc4server and xfce. You can add konsole & like before and change xfce4-session & to startkde &. I haven't tried it with KDE.

#!/bin/sh

unset SESSION_MANAGER
xsetroot -solid grey
vncconfig -iconic &
xfce4-session &
  • I added an edit to the question, describing what happened after following your suggestion. – rvenner Mar 14 '16 at 22:21
  • I added unset SESSION_MANAGER to the xstartup. I don't know if this will have any affect, but it is suggested in the default xstartup file for normal desktop so it is worth a try to see if any of the error messages change. Otherwise, hopefully someone with more knowledge will be able to point you in the right direction for the errors you are getting. – Paul H. Mar 14 '16 at 22:52
  • I put it in but had the same result. – rvenner Mar 15 '16 at 0:34
  • So I still have the fault. The answer I received helped a bit with troubleshooting. Does anyone else have any ideas? – rvenner Mar 15 '16 at 19:53
  • I have now tried it on a fresh install of Debian 8 (KDE), using both the default xstartup and the one given by Paul H, using no service but just giving the command "tightvncserver -geometry 1024x768 -depth 24". It just dies on connection, as above, or refuses connection. – rvenner Mar 15 '16 at 23:02

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