Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I discovered X11, and I was wondering if it is possible to install it on a dedicated server, and have a "desktop" from the server running on my personnal computer ?

Or maybe it is necessary for the server to have a screen ? Or a least kde or gnome ?

What I want is a desktop of my server (as if it had a screen), but on my laptop, through internet. I want to be able to launch graphic applications remotely, as if it was a PC.

share|improve this question
up vote 0 down vote accepted

No monitor is necessary for what you're trying to do.

Just install the X server and your preferred vnc server (I like tightvnc), add them to the default runlevel so that after each reboot they come up by default and then you are good to go.

share|improve this answer
I will need to install KDE or Gnome on the server ? – Matthieu Napoli Mar 12 '10 at 9:25
It all depends on your needs. With X installed you can start an empty X server and open apps in it. If you need somekind of window manager you obviously need to install it. Gnome, KDE, wmii, fluxbox or whatever; it doesn't really matter. – fim Mar 12 '10 at 11:13

Just try X11 Forwarding via SSH. It's very convenient and easy to configure

You need not any monitors or video cards on your server, which is just headless.

Yes, you should need Gnome or KDE if you want to a complete desktop.

If having no desktop environment, you still can run single graphic application in your laptop. (try xclock, xlogo etc.)

I highly recommend you to use an one-stop solution in Windows, that's MobaXterm.

share|improve this answer

This is certainly possible. The X terminology can be confusing here: "server" (usually) means the local machine (with keyboard, mouse, video card) and X client is the remote machine actually executing the program you're "looking" at.

You don't need VNC.

share|improve this answer
Okay so it is possible, with a "X client" on my laptop to connect to a "X server" on a dedicated server (without screen, and maybe no graphic card), and show me a desktop ? And maybe i will need to install a desktop no ? like gnome or kde ? Else what will it print ? – Matthieu Napoli Mar 11 '10 at 16:31
"X client" and "X server" are reversed - the "X server" is the screen you're looking at, the "X client" is the remote program. Take a look at this: – quadruplebucky Mar 11 '10 at 16:57
Please re-read what i wrote, I know what a server and a client application are. – Matthieu Napoli Mar 12 '10 at 9:25
Yes, I believe you do, and in X terminology they're backwards. – quadruplebucky Mar 12 '10 at 12:44
Oh my bad I apologize, I should have re-read what you said. Ok but if I launch a X client on the server (with X server on my laptop), what will I get on my screen ? Will I be able to launch graphic applications in windows, and have a desktop and all? – Matthieu Napoli Mar 12 '10 at 15:07

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.