Ubuntu with Xvnc to :1 with no window manager at :0

Mike Miller mbmiller+l at gmail.com
Tue May 15 16:34:32 BST 2012

On Mon, 14 May 2012, Long, Phillip GOSS wrote:

> On Wed, 25 Apr 2012, Mike Miller wrote:
>> Is it possible to boot Ubuntu, not load an X window manager and still 
>> run Xvnc on :1 for remote access?
>> If I'm actually sitting at the machine, I have to load a window manager 
>> to be able to see vncviewer, I assume?
>> Is that how it works?
>> What I've been doing is using IceWM in Xvnc and exclusively accessing 
>> the system through that, but I have Gnome running all the time on :0, 
>> mostly doing nothing but taking up space.
> Mike:
> I use Gnome, not Xvnc, on my desktop, and I'm by no means an expert, but 
> my understanding is that Xvnc is an X server, and in general, U should 
> only have one of those running.  My guess is that Xvnc is your X server, 
> and U're running IceWM as your window manager on :1.  Probably, the X 
> startup/login script (~/.xinitrc?) is launching Gnome (on the first 
> available screen, perhaps?), and U need to remove or comment out those 
> commands to conserve resources. U would also be able to run IceWM on :0 
> instead of :1.

Thanks, Phillip.  On my system, it seems that /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc calls 
/etc/X11/Xsession and there is no ~/.xinitrc file.

Suppose I make it so that /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc doesn't start X11.  I 
guess I would then see a console window after booting.  Can I just run 
vncserver :1, say, from there, then run vncviewer from that console?  It 
just seems like that would fail because I don't have a graphical 
interface.  How can vncviewer run without a DISPLAY?

By the way, I have been running Xvnc on :1 for years without any failures 
(that's RealVNC Free).  It ran once for something like 500 days on 
Solaris.  It's really the same on Ubuntu -- no failures -- but I happen to 
have the machine in a place where the power sometimes goes out and that 
has limited me to only about 200 days of uninterrupted uptime.


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