XRDP is great

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xrdp.org hosts an open-source implementation of Microsoft’s remote desktop protocol server. This is a great tool long overdue on GNU/Linux.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft, which provides a user with a graphical interface to another computer. Unlike VNC which simply forwards screen shots and keyboard input from another computer, A RDP session is a virtual terminal creating a separate instance of X.org server running a desktop separate from other logged in users. No users need to be logged in to create a new RDP session.
This means the session can be configured by the client so the screen is displayed in the native resolution of the client. Using a RDP client at full screen feels like your using a native operating system. Its also more efficient in terms of bandwidth needed to communicate video and keyboard data.

Installing in ubuntu 11.10 is easy. Its a package which can be installed with apt-get.

sudo apt-get install xrdp

Great, but I encountered a couple of minor issues.
For one after connecting with a client, I was only able to see the desktop. I did not get tool bars or any way to interact with the terminal.
Turns out its an easy fix.

cd /home/youruser
echo "gnome-session --session=ubuntu-2d" > .xsession
sudo /etc/init.d/xrdp restart

This tells xrdp to use ubuntu-2d for your remote session.
This is all I needed to get my menus to show up. Note that restarting xrdp will disconnect your session.

The next issue is pressing the ‘d’ key causes all active windows to be hidden. This can be corrected from the GUI.

  • Click on the ubuntu menu and search for ‘system settings’.
  • Click on ‘keyboard’.
  • Click on the ‘shortcuts’ tab, then the ‘navigation’ tab and find ‘Hide all normal windows’. I changed mine to be ‘alt + d’ .

Once these easy tweaks are done, you’ll have your self a very usable remote desktop server.

4 responses to “XRDP is great”

  1. ubiquo Avatar

    Thanks for the instructions but I not solved the problem.

    I have 4 users on Ubuntu 11.10, an administrator and 3 standard users.

    All can connect RDP but can only see the clock, the mail and change the wallpaper.

    The .xsession file of each user, contains “gnome-session –session=ubuntu-2d”.

    Any idea?

    Thanks and regards.

    1. derak Avatar

      I haven’t experienced that specific issue.
      There is probably a clue in xrdp’s application log.
      Checkout /var/log/xrdp-sesman.log

      Check out askubuntu.com. You’ll likely get a response in minutes on this.

  2. Jim Avatar

    Still didn’t work for me. Plus shouldn’t you mention having to install unity?

    1. derak Avatar

      For this specific example, yes, you have to install unity. How do you install ubuntu 11 without unity?

      I use a different window manager for day to day use, but unity is always there in 11.

      In my case, I use xfce. To make your RDP session a XFCE session, open up ~/.xsession and replace the gnoe-session…. line with xfce4-session and restart xrdp

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