Ubuntu – access Ubuntu from Windows remotely

remote accessremote desktopwindows

I have Ubuntu installed on my work computer. I am wondering whether I could have access to it from another computer with Windows installed. If so, could you give a step by step guide?

Best Answer

Yes, you can access Ubuntu from Windows remotely.

Taken from this article.

Follow these steps :

Step 1 – Install xRDP

Open Terminal (Crtl+Alt+T) and execute the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xrdp

Step 2 – Install XFCE4 ( Unity doesn't seem to support xRDP in Ubuntu 14.04; although, in Ubuntu 12.04 it was supported ). That's why we install Xfce4.

sudo apt-get install xfce4

Step 3 – Configure xRDP

In this step, we modify two files to make sure xRDP uses Xfce4. First we need to create, or edit, our .xsession file in our home directory. We can either use nano or simply redirect an echo statement (easier):

echo xfce4-session > ~/.xsession

The second file we need to edit is the startup file for xRDP, so it will start Xfce4.

sudo nano /etc/xrdp/startwm.sh

The content should look like this (pay attention to the last line and ignore . /etc/X11/Xsession):


if [ -r /etc/default/locale ]; then
  . /etc/default/locale


Step 4 – Restart xRDP

To make all these changes effective, restart xRDP as such:

sudo service xrdp restart

Testing your xRDP connection

On the computer that will remotely control your Ubuntu machine, start you RDP client. Windows comes standard with a Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe – you can start it from a command prompt, or find the shortcut to Remote Desktop under Accessories). Or Search 'remote' in start (Windows 7) Or 'remote' in search box in Windows 8.

Remote Desktop Connection

Whichever client you use, most will work with either the computer network name or IP address of your Ubuntu machine.

To find the IP address on your Ubuntu box, type:

hostname -I

(note: this is a capital “i”)

Enter IP address of your Ubuntu machine. For example:

enter image description here

Depending on your RDP client capabilities and settings (for example: Microsoft RDP Client allows automatic login), you might or might not see the login screen. Here we enter our Ubuntu username and password and click “OK”

xRDP – Login screen

You are done,enjoy

RDP – Your Ubuntu xfce4 desktop

PS: There are some good points mentioned in comments, so I thought to sum them up.

  • If you want to access Ubuntu from outside network, you'll need your Ubuntu at work to have it's own, proper, internet IP address - a fairly unlikely scenario. To work it otherwise, you need the externally visible address of work, AND have port forwarding set to direct incoming RDP requests to your work computer on the router. (Mark Williams)

  • To use the Ubuntu MATE desktop meta-session, replace last line startxfce4 in startwm.sh with mate-session. (Frank N)

  • You can use your actual machine name (by typing hostname) rather than your IP as it might be more stable on dynamic IPs in future sessions. (Frank N)

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