Ubuntu 22.04 and x11 Remote Desktop Sharing

In the previous post, I’ve been looking at how Ubuntu’s built-in remote desktop sharing works and performs when the, by now, default Wayland display server is used. While the functionality was broken in my daily build of 22.04 (which is not yet released), it was working as designed in Ubuntu 21.10, so I gave it a try there. While Wayland remote desktop sharing in Ubuntu works in principle, it’s not usable over slow Internet connections. So I had a closer look if my standard solution with x11vnc still works in Ubuntu 22.04 when switching from Wayland to the tried and tested x11 display server.

Fortunately, x11 can still be selected as display server in Ubuntu 22.04 for the GUI session when logging in. Ubuntu also remembers the choice and uses x11 again after a reboot. For remote desktop sharing, I’ve been using the x11vnc package for over a decade now. It is command line driven and can be installed via apt, but it is not installed by default. The major advantage of x11vnc is, however, that with the highest compression level, it requires very little bandwidth, and hence remains usable even if there’s only half a megabit per second or so of available uplink bandwidth on the remote side. So I gave this a try over Ubuntu 22.04 while running on x11, and it still works and feels the same as in previous Ubuntu versions.

That is very good news, and perhaps I should just forget about Wayland and remote desktop sharing for the next 3-4 years!? However, unlike in the Ubuntu 20.04 Long Term Support (LTS) version, x11 is no longer the default display server in Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, so I’m not quite sure how much love x11will still get, i.e. if and how fast issues will be fixed that might show up during the lifetime of the OS.

The other interesting quirk: Right now, it looks like Ubuntu 22.04 will use the VNC backend for the gnome-remote-desktop package, which is the basis for their remote desktop sharing. However, according to information in this bug report, the project has switched to an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) backend, so perhaps the next Ubuntu LTS version to be released in 2024 (24.04) will change the backend once again. In other words, it’s questionable if spending a lot of time in trying to find out if the VNC backend of gnome-remote-desktop can be tweaked for lower bandwidths is time well spent.