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I have a headless Raspberry Pi (Raspbian Stretch) that I use over VNC, enabled by enabling the VNC setting in the Interfacing section of raspi-config.

I've read the docs pages for RealVNC, which say that a virtual desktop is more resource-efficient than a standard remote desktop (and thus I'd like to use it). The documentation also says how to set up a virtual desktop from the command line.

My question, which I have not been able to find an answer for, is whether the raspi-config setting is smart enough to use a virtual desktop if no monitor is connected, or if I need to use the vncserver command over ssh (which I have no problem doing, but I don't know if I need to.)

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If you have a full Raspbian set to boot to GUI (even if no screen is attached) VNC will work - although the screen size will be small unless you set the default resolution (in raspi-config).

It will NOT create a virtual desktop unless you explicitly start it.

Whether this is more "resource-efficient" (whatever this may mean) is doubtful. Many utilities directly access the frame buffer using the Video Core and RealVNC echoes the screen.

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