xrdp is a great solution when you need to have coexistence between Windows machines and Linux machine. xrdp is basically a piece of software that allows you to remote desktop into your Ubuntu machine from a Windows computer. On the Windows machine, you do not need to install any tools, you simply use the standard and builtin tool Remote Desktop Connection.
Standard XRDP installation on Ubuntu 16.04
For this post, we have make some assumptions.
- Ubuntu 16.04 (Final Release version) is used
- The Mate-desktop will be installed on the machine (as alternative desktop environment)
- We will configure our system to match on localized version (i.e. we are using a Belgian french keyboard)
- Since Ubuntu 15.04, upstart has been replaced by systemd component. The systemd component is used in our scenario
- No additional configuration is needed to reconnect to the same session if you are using the latest version of the xrdp package found in the Ubuntu Repository
Step 1 – Install XRDP Package from Ubuntu Repository
A standard installation for us means that we will be using the xrdp package available within the Ubuntu repository. To install the xrdp software from Ubuntu repository, you will need to issue the following command in a terminal.
sudo apt-get install xrdp
Because of the sudo command, you will be prompted for a password. After entering your password, you will be asked to confirm your action by pressing Y (see screenshot below)
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Step 2 – Install an alternative Desktop
xrdp and Unity desktop (or Gnome 3) are not working well together. If you do not install another desktop environment, when you will try to connect to your Ubuntu machine, you will see only a gray screen. The workaround to this situation is to install an alternate desktop that can work with xrdp software solution.
Our preferred desktop alternative is Mate-Desktop. This post will show you how to install the Mate-Desktop and have it working with the xrdp software solution.
To install the Mate-desktop, issue the following command from the Terminal Session
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mate-core mate-desktop-environment mate-notification-daemon
Desktop interface such as xfce, LXDE,LXQT, KDE are all potential candidates. Check the following links for more information and installation and configuration procedures
- Ubuntu 14.10 – KDE as alternative Desktop for XRDP sessions
- Ubuntu 14.10 – LXQT as alternative Desktop for XRDP
- Ubuntu 14.04 – LXDE Desktop Alternative for XRDP
- Ubuntu 14.04 – How to install xrdp in Ubuntu 14.04 (for xfce interface)
Step 3 – Configuring xRDP to use your desktop environment
At this stage, we need to configure our system in order to tell xrdp that an alternate desktop needs to be used. In our case, we have to tell xrdp that we want to use Mate-Desktop as alternate desktop. With the previous version of Ubuntu, you would need to create the ~/.xsession file. In Ubuntu 16.04, it seems that this approach is not working anymore. We need to configure the system differently when working with Ubuntu 16.04
Starting the alternate desktop environment
Important Note :
In our scenario, we have installed mate-desktop, If you have installed another Desktop alternative, you will have to adapt the configuration of the startwm.sh file to reflect your settings.
If you use the ~/.xsession file approach, you will experience the same symptoms as before i.e. grey screen. We will need to configure the system in a different way. To have xRDP working in Ubuntu 16.04, you will need to update the /etc/xrdp/startwm.sh file. To configure this, issue the following command in your Terminal console
sudo sed -i.bak '/fi/a #xrdp multiple users configuration \n mate-session \n' /etc/xrdp/startwm.sh
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Remember that the command above is to be used when you have installed the Mate-Desktop. If you have installed a different desktop environment, you will need to adapt the command accordingly. Please check the following links