VNC or X11 desktop setup for headless Debian 8.8


I’m trying to get a Debian 8.8 (Jessie) install on a Dragonboard 410c configured so I can use either VNC or X11 for remote connections. I’m currently accessing the board via ssh for development and have no problems with this setup but will need a GUI environment in the near future. I know I can simply connect the board to a monitor using HDMI and add a keyboard and mouse but this wastes a lot of desk space and screws up my dual monitor setup as one is then dedicated to the 410c.
So far I’ve installed the full desktop version of Linaro Debian 8.8 using the SD card method then fully upgraded it, configured it for ssh access and have successfully connected to it from Microsoft Visual Studio 2015 and 2017 in Linux development mode and built a fairly sophisticated project.
I’m stuck trying to configure lightdm to provide a remote desktop either via tightvncserver or straight X11. I have been able to configure the system to the point where I can successfully execute single programs such as xcalc or xclock and have them connect to the xserver running on my Windows 10 workstation.
I’ve also been able to configure the VNC support in lightdm such that it executes Xvnc when the VNC client on my workstation establishes a connection but as soon as I finish entering the VNC connection password Xvnc dies and the VNC client displays a message indicating the display geometry is incorrect and then sits waiting for a reconnect.
If I configure VNC to not use a connection password the same behavior is seen with the exception that I’m not prompted for a password.
BTW: All these gyrations are happening when np HDMI connection to a monitor exists, could this be why the X server thinks the display geometry is wrong?
Any help with this would be greatly appreciated!!!

Ken Wheeler


When I want to run GUI programs on the drabonboard I simply use ssh -X to get the X11 ports forwarded:

ssh -X linaro-alip
xclock &

I usually use a GNU/Linux desktop but this approach should also work with a Cygwin rootless X server (or similar). Basically if you have things setup correctly to run xclock from a cygwin bash shell (i.e. run xclock on your Windows machine) then you should have everything configured correctly for X11 port forwarding.


What you describe is essentially what I already have working with the exception that I’m not using Cygwin. Instead I’m using an x server called VCXSrv, which is an open source XServer based on the X11ORG sources that runs on Windows, in combination with PuTTY.
This setup works to run GUI programs (just as you describe) but I’m really wanting / needing to setup a remote desktop configuration such as provided by VNC or Microsoft’s RDP.
My goal is to use the Dragonboard 410c as a platform to begin developing a GUI interface for the next generation of instrument the company I work for is creating. The instrument will have an embedded ARM based processor (most likely a Snapdragon 820c or similar) and use a touch screen for user interaction. This is the driving factor in wanting to setup a X11 environment and have the ability to perform remote desktop type operations.

Ken Wheeler