Remote Desktop (using RDP)

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Introduction

One of the various ways to use remote graphical desktop environment sessions with Linux is to use the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). (Alternatives include VNC, TeamViewer, and more.)

Microsoft Windows natively supports RDP: it acts as a Remote Desktop server and comes with a Remote Desktop client.

By default, the RDP protocol uses TCP port 3389.

Remote Desktop on the TU/e campus

In January of 2019, TU/e system administrators saw a huge increase in automated attempts to guess the passwords of valid TUE accounts through RDP. On our Windows systems, the account is locked out after 3 invalid login attempts; as a result, many users were unable to log in and work. To end this, port 3389 was closed from off-campus access.

Therefore, to connect to an on-campus system using Remote Desktop, either:

  • the system you connect from must itself be on campus, or
  • you must first establish a VPN connection.

Remote Desktop clients for Linux

Various Remote Desktop clients for Linux support the RDP protocol, and hence, can be used to connect to Windows systems:

  • Remmina, an RDP client, VNC client, and SSH client in one; generally the best option, e.g. it is more flexible with window resizing than the other options
  • rdesktop, possibly the simplest of all, but still supporting many features such as TLS encryption, audio forwarding, and directory sharing
  • xfreerdp, the FreeRDP client, supports full-screen use of all of your monitors

Remmina

Installing Remmina

Remmina comes preinstalled on the IMS Ubuntu desktop. Otherwise, install the remmina package from the Ubuntu package repository, or via snap; in a terminal: sudo apt install remmina or

sudo snap install remmina

After installation via snap we need to map some features to remmina: sudo snap connect remmina:avahi-observe :avahi-observe

sudo snap connect remmina:cups-control :cups-control
sudo snap connect remmina:mount-observe :mount-observe
sudo snap connect remmina:password-manager-service :password-manager-service

VNC uses port number 5900 by default while RDP uses port number 3389. For RDP this is less important, but VNC clients often also use 5901 or 5902. Logging in to a remote system and taking over its desktop is more commonly done on Windows than on Linux. It is usually faster on Linux to use the terminal due to far less network traffic involved.

Usage

On Ubuntu 18.04, start remmina by clicking in the left bottom corner of your Ubuntu screen, and typing remmina. Double-click on the Remmina icon.

In the pulldown menu, you can select RDP to connect to Windows machines and VNC, and even SSH to log into the remote machine via the SSH protocol, in which case remmina shows a terminal window instead of a graphical desktop window. Remmina-0.jpg
Type the hostname of the remote computer in the field and press enter. If you want to connect at a non-default portnumber, specify both as hostname:portnumber. You will get a username and/or password popup if applicable. if the authentication was successful, a new window will be shown with the contents of the remote computer. Remmina-1.jpg

Using Linux as an RDP server

To use your Linux system as a Remote Desktop server, install the xrdp package and configure it by editing its configuration file.

This allows you to access your graphical Linux desktop environment remotely, but it does not support any of the more advanced RDP features.

Underneath, xrdp uses a VNC server. It can be configured to automatically close the session when the user disconnects.

See Also / Unsupported

Remmina
Rdesktop