I have 2 linux machines: local and remote. local is the laptop I carry around to different networks–into the office, coffeeshops, library. But I want to be able to log into remote when I need it.

It’s pretty simple to do this with tailscale + x11vnc.

SSH keys

On local: ssh-copy-id remote and enter the password to save the key.


On both machines, install and connect tailscale


(other options would be nebula, zerotier, and others. This post had good comparisons: https://blog.unixfy.net/battle-of-the-mesh-vpns/)

VNC server

on remote, install packages

sudo apt install x11vnc

run x11vnc to set up password:

x11vnc -usepw

Follow prompts to set and save password; we’ll use this later

ssh config

find tailscale ip of remote using

tailscale ip -4

then on local, create or edit ~/.ssh/config

Host remote
    Hostname remote.ip.addr.ess
    LocalForward 5901 localhost:5901
    RemoteCommand x11vnc -localhost -display :1 -usepw -rfbport 5901

then on local

ssh remote

Remote viewer

on local, install package:

sudo apt install virt-viewer

launch remote viewer and login to vnc://localhost:5901

Login with the vnc password from earlier



This (unlike spice) doesn’t seem to let you resize on the fly. Also, you have to have already logged in or else it doesn’t let you connect. You can have tigervnc server, but it doesn’t work quite as nicely as x11vnc.

It might be nicer to do a standalone spice server instead of vnc, but this seems to work well.