I would like to run an Ubuntu (18.0.4) desktop with no monitor/keyboard attached, and access it via VNC (or Remote Desktop) from a Windows 10 Pro machine. I have installed VNC Viewer on Windows and enabled remote access from Linux. It all works, but not until I log on to the Linux box from an actual keyboard - which defeats the purpose. In other words, Linux will let me log in remotely only after I am logged in physically.

I followed instructions to set up Linux for remote access, including the bit about "allowing unencrypted connections", but then I realized that those are instructions for allowing an external user to view/control the same session as a logged-on user, as opposed to allowing an external user to start their own session.

What do I need to do to have the Linux-side start up and be ready for connections without the need to attach a physical keyboard? For instance, perhaps I need to make sure that VNC Server starts as soon as the Linux machine boots, etc.

It does not need to be VNC. I can work in the Windows remote desktop window as well. I just want to access this Linux machine without attaching a keyboard/mouse/monitor.

2 Answers 2


Looks like you need to start your vncserver as a service you can create an unit file for that and enable it with systemd enable myservicestuff

Look at the 4th step:


  • 1
    For the sake of people who visit here after the link breaks, please import the relevant commands into your answer, so that your answer is self-contained. Thank you!
    – Jeff Schaller
    Aug 25, 2019 at 20:19

If you are using a pro version of Windows, just fire up Windows' Remote Desktop Connection, which will prompt you for remote server's IP address, after connecting to the remote machine, you will be prompted for login info. Let me know if this works.

  • 3
    OP's problem is not connecting from Windows - it's having everything ready on the Linux side before connecting
    – muru
    Aug 12, 2023 at 15:14

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