I have a debian server that's been up and running for a while now, I access it via putty and it works great, however i would like to add a gui to make things prettier to look at and easier for me to manage my server (what can i say - i grew up with windows...). Can I do this solely from putty access? I will need to install VNC or something similar to remote into it as it is sitting in a closet. I would like to do this without having to take machine down, move into another room, hook up a monitor, etc. Can I do this all from command line? if so how?

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The way I'm going to describe is using the GDM autologin which can be unsecure if someone has physical access to the machine.

First install Gnome, gdm, vino and xorg:

apt-get install gnome gdm xorg vino

Then activate autologin in gdm, edit /etc/gdm/custom.conf and add:



Then ssh as yourusername into the machine, and type this:

gconftool-2 --type list --list-type string --set /desktop/gnome/remote_access/authentication_methods '[vnc]'
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /desktop/gnome/remote_access/prompt_enabled false
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /desktop/gnome/remote_access/enabled true


Then try connecting to your machine using VNC.

  • I see a /etc/gdm/gdm.conf - is this the correct file? or sould i create a new file called custom.conf? – Tone Jul 5 '10 at 4:04
  • yeah Try creating custom.conf, as this file will not overwritten when you update packages. If that does not work, try gdm.conf – Weboide Jul 5 '10 at 11:31

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