Cannot get nx to work with headless Ubuntu machine

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    Hi. I’d like to get NX working from my Mac at home to a headless Ubuntu machine at work. I used NX heavily previously, but in the distant past. I loved it when I used it, and would like to use it in rootless mode.

    As I mentioned, the Ubuntu machine in question is headless and I think doesn’t have any X11 server software installed on it. (It does have xterm, etc.) In the past I was a Linux sysadmin and knew how to do everything Linux, but that was a long time ago. And that was on RedHat, not Ubuntu. So you may have to answer my questions as if you were talking to an idiot.

    I was hoping to use the internal X11 server for NX that I’ve seen mentioned in the NX documentation for headless machines, and hoped that this would just work automatically. But no such luck. I installed xvfb using apt-get, hoping that might help. It seemed to a bit, in that now the NX client on my Mac prompted me to create a “display”. And now the NX client asks me if I want to connect to the display. But when I do so, I end up on a screen that says, “<No available desktops on this server>”. And the “New desktop” button is greyed out.

    I installed NX on the Ubuntu box by downloading the 64-bit DEB version and following the instructions. /etc/issue on the Ubuntu box says that the machine is running Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS. The Mac is running Catalina.

    Thanks for any help that you might offer.


    Hi, I’m assuming you’ve installed the latest version both sides and that you are connecting to a free NoMachine installation, or have you installed one of our other products there? What’s the desktop environment installed there?


    Yes, I have the last version of NX installed on both the Ubuntu box and my Mac.

    There’s no desktop environment installed on the Ubuntu box. Just xvfb.

    Is a desktop environment needed?

    I don’t want to use a desktop environment on the Ubuntu box. I want to use it rootless, which is how I’ve used NX in the past, from a Windows computer at home to a Red Hat computer at work.

    When I used NX rootless in the past, I never saw a remote desktop environment on my Windows computer. Just remote applications, running in their own windows on my home computer.

    Though in that case, it was my desktop Linux computer at work, so it did have a real X server installed and it did have Gnome installed, even though I never saw Gnome when I was using the remote Linux computer from home via NX rootless.


    P.S. Yes, I’m using the free versions of NX on both my client Mac at home and the server Ubuntu box at work. Both are the most recent versions. I installed them yesterday.



    Hi nessus42,

    Rootless sessions are only available with NoMachine Terminal Server family products (

    To use the NoMachine free version, a desktop environment must be installed.


    Ah, thanks! But quel dommage.


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