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Graphical Remote Control Desktops for Linux - page 2

Controlling Windows Computers From Linux

  • October 30, 2008
  • By A. Lizard
This article is written on a Debian Lenny workstation running Sun Virtualbox 1.6.2. However, the procedure should be either identical or very similar across a wide range of Linux distros. Note that on Virtualbox and VMware Servers, it is possible to bypass the built-in remote servers in each console. This is a far more difficult setup and is more appropriate for remote server guestVM control than for an individual SOHO user running virtualization on his own desktop.

Linux workstation virtualbox host to guestVM:

  1. Open Virtualbox. Open Settings > Remote Display for the VM you want to enable. I set my XP host to 4000
  2. $ rdesktop -a 24 0.0.0.0:4000 [the IP points at the Virtualbox host] - if you can't find the virtualbox RDP server, try netstat -an and look for something with the port set for Virtualbox. (the Windows default port is 3389 - I set it for 4000 in Virtualbox -- XP -- Remote Desktop -- XRDP Server
  3. You can also use GUI Remote Desktop programs like krdc and Gnome RDP.
  4. Note: this will only work with 1 VM at a time unless you assign a different port in Settings > Remote Display - port [text entry box] per VM
  5. NO CONFIGURATION IS REQUIRED IN THE OSs RUNNING ON THE VM.
  6. It should be possible to access the RDP servers from XP/Vista from the Linux desktop directly, though in this case, the guest VM OSs will have to be configured.

Linux workstation VMware Server host to guestVM:
  1. $ rdesktop -a 24 0.0.0.0:5900
  2. Start > Internet > Remote Desktop Connection (KRDC > 0.0.0.0:5900 (will connect via the insecure by default VNC application- which will have to be installed) Note that within one's personal workstation, I don't regard insecure connections as a serious issue.
  3. I don't know if this can be run with multiple guestVMs at the same time.

Linux to remote Windows server

$ rdesktop -a 24 xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx:3389

The xxx* should be replaced by the IP of the machine you want to control. On Windows versions prior to XP, a downloadable server app will have to be downloaded, but RDP and Windows 9.x are not compatible.

I had hoped to be able to set up a Linux rdp server to make it possible to use the rdesktop client to control Linux computers. Unfortunately, no matter what your list of applications installable via repository says, there is no such thing as a usable Linux rdp server.

The problem with xrdp - the x11rdp module is missing in the binaries.
"Mar 6, 2008 ... is not compiled at all: it is not part of the source of xrdp 0.4.0. To make it work, you will have to compile yourself . ..."

Unfortunately, source build with xrdp also fails. I've seen reports that getting the latest version via subversion and building this from source works, but anyone who grabs the very latest build of a package from the developers can confidently expect trouble.

Those of you who are creating an environment intended for actual use in your business or academic life need one that normally works and doesn't need continuous debugging.

This is an example of EPIC FAIL, if it doesn't work, it should not be in distros.

So it's time to try something that does work.
This picture (Figue 2) was taken in front of my public library where I was using its wireless access point. This is my eeePC 901 showing my workstation desktop with my workstation e-mail client running in VMware Server on a Windows guestVM. I was running NX client to connect to the NX server running on my desktop. Once I had the setup done correctly on the server machine, I connected on the very first try.

NX Server (free version from commercial developer)


WARNING: Unfortunately, NX Server and Freenx are not ready for unsupported inexperienced Linux users to install. The commercial / payware version does come with support and perhaps a better installation setup, inexperienced users may be better off with it despite the extremely high price.

While this is a proprietary application, source code has been provided by NoMachines to the Linux Open Source community for their server and client applications.

Unlike vnc, this is secure by design, it's built to work automatically with the OpenSSL ssh package. You can find out more about these packages from NoMachines.


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