Wrestling with Ubuntu (Edgy)

I have been playing with various Linux distributions over the last few years, primarily as a way of getting a bit more life out of old hardware. While I am no expert there are some things that I like in a set up, and one of those things is vnc.

On my little home network I use vnc to manage the Linux fileserver that holds all the email and music and to help on the other Windows machines when other household members get stuck (or find something interesting). I expect vnc to start up as soon as the machine boots and I expect to be to login in remotely; and so far I have been able to do this on Red Hat, Mandrake, Debian and Windows installation without too much trouble.

Impressed by the press on Ubuntu I have installed it on an old IBM PIII that must be getting on for 10 years old. I use this machine to run vmware virtual machines for development work. It is a source continuing amusement that I have an ancient machine running Linux that pretends to be Windows 2003 Server, and sometimes two at the same time. But I don’t really use it that often so it was a minor inconvenience that vnc (using vino Remote Desktop) would only start once logged in.

But we now need another workstation. It will just be used for surfing and as a dumb terminal for Citrix, so the Ubuntu should be fine. But before it moves into that role I want to get vnc working what I call properly.

After a few false starts I found the best instructions for vnc running in its own sessions at ubuntu forums. However this is a long thread and there are a few gotchas, the answers are in the thread but 11 pages is a lot to work through. Just in case any needs to repeat the process these are the ones that caught me

  • the path to fonts is different in Edgy Eft (why?) so the -fp statement should read /usr/share/fonts/X11/misc
    • get this wrong and vncserver will not run
  • you must set up remote login to behave the same as local log in
    • while logged into ubuntu go to System>Administration>Login Window>Remote and select Same as Local.
    • if you don’t do this vnc will run and you can connect but all you get is a grey X windows screen

So now vnc starts when the machine starts and I can log in remotely. I can also have different users running at the same time.