Seeing a grey screen like this? It seems to be a common problem when setting up Ubuntu 14.04 with VNC.


When trying to setup your Ubuntu machine, a common problem seems to come up: the grey screen. There is no login box, no options no nothing. It seems like you followed all the right steps, and you’re logged in to the server but there is nothing there. It’s confusing. We’ve setup this little tutorial to help you figure out where you went wrong and how to fix it!

The problem for me at least, seemed to be that while I was running vncserver, I didn’t have a desktop running so there was really nothing to look at.

I edited this file:


The following code:

That’s it! You may need a restart and everything should be working.

If you have having trouble still, try the following resouces:

Ask Ubuntu:

LazyGeek blog:

Broderick tech:

To avoid messing up your system while you get VNC running, you can get a VPS (Virtual Private Server) from Digital Ocean and setup a test system. You can rent for only a few cents per minute, and delete when you’re done (or keep it running all month for $5). The added advantage of being able to roll back changes to a previous image is a great time saver when making system changes.