Advanced Operating Systems Class FAQ

Leaving your Pi at home

  1. How do I get terminal access while leaving my Pi at home?

  2. How do I get a remote graphical interface while leaving my Pi at home?

    First, go through the steps for setting up a terminal interface at home (above).

    A free, open-source solution for getting remote graphical access to your Pi is via VNC (Virtual Network Computing). You will need to install a VNC server on your PI, and get a VNC client (viewer) in order to connect to your server. An excellent open-source implementation of VNC is called TightVNC, which provides both a server and a client.

    The folks at have an excellent walk-through of how to install, configure, and automate the TightVNC server. This only takes a few minutes to install and configure. You can access it here. Note that if you plan on sitting down and using your Pi through a regular keyboard and monitor at home, in addition to connecting remotely, you probably don't want to disable the existing display :0

    Once you have that complete, you need to install the TightVNC viewer on the machine that you'll use to connect to your Pi. The link above has instructions if you're connecting from a Linux machine. If you're connecting from Windows, go to and download their viewer from there. If you're connecting from Mac OS, or from any machine that you can't install software on, you can go to and download their self-contained Java viewer (which of course requires Java to be installed).

    Finally, if you're connecting from outside of your house, you'll need to forward ports 5900-5902 on your home router to your Pi. (See previous answer for details.)

    When connecting with a viewer, you will connect to (external IP address)::(port number). The port number is determined (by default) to be 5900 plus the number of your display. So, if your VNC server is running display :0, then your port number is 5900. If your VNC server is running display :1, then your port number is 5901, etc.