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NOTE: The X2Go Client is an easier alternative to VNC over SSH

This example is one method of setting up a secure VNC session tunneling over SSH. It assumes a VNC server has been installed on the remote system.


Download and unzip MobaXterm Home Edition (portable edition) 

Open MobaXterm and start local terminal

First SSH into the remote system configure the VNC session and start VNC server

  • Run the command vncpasswd to create a VNC session password. It is separate than your login password, but can be set the same
    • The vncpasswd command can also change/reset an existing password
    • The vncpasswd command will create a ~/.vnc directory if it does not exist
    • If needed, edit the file ~/.vnc/xstartup

      • Expand
        titlexstartup example


        unset SESSION_MANAGER
        gnome-session &

    • Start vncserver

      • Expand
        titleIf vncserver uses systemd (example using tigervnc)
        • Add user to /etc/tigervnc/vncserver.users
          • Start vncserver for user port: sudo systemctl start vncserver@:x

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        titleIf vncserver does not use systemd
        • Check if any VNC ports are in use using the command ‘vncserver -list’ . Any active VNC ports will be listed like :1 or :2. By default VNC runs on port in the range 590x
          • Each VNC session runs on a unique port so to start on port 5902 use the command: 
            • vncserver :2 -localhost
            • NOTE: if VNC session is already running on port :2, try a higher port number like :7 or :8
          • The VNC server can be stopped with the command:
          • vncserver -kill :2
          • The VNC session resolution can be set using the -geometry option. Stop vncserver before starting a new session.
            • vncserver -kill :2
              • vncserver :2 -localhost -geometry 1280x1024


After the vncserver is running, on the Mac open the Teminal app in the Applications → Utilities folder

Create a SSH tunnel to remote VNC session using the command:

ssh -L 8888: <username>@<servername>
  • 8888 is the local port number
  • 5902 is the remote VNC session port created above

Select "Connect to Server..." under the Go menu in the Finder. Enter the server name:


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Enter your VNC session password

titleVNC session password

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Download and unzip MobaXterm Home Edition (portable edition) 

Open MobaXterm and start local terminal

After the vncserver is running, in MobaXterm select the Session icon to configure the VNC session