Remote desktop to Windows from Ubuntu (Linux)

Microsoft supports remote desktop connection in all versions of Windows operating system and is heavily used in a data center environment. Connecting to a virtual Windows server through remote desktop is a common phenomenon. This article however shows you how to connect to Windows OS from Ubuntu. With the latest versions of Ubuntu it should be a simple job considering you don’t come across unexpected issues like i did but the blame was not on Ubuntu rather on Windows (Mcafee antivirus was blocking the connection).  Here’s the host and guest OSs and the network setup that I have.

Windows OS is Windows 7 sp1
Linux OS is Ubuntu 12.10
Network is router based home network.

remote-win7

Here’s 6 simple steps for enabling remote desktop connection from your Ubuntu machine to Windows machine.

  • Enable Remote Desktop on Windows machine.
    1. In order to make the connection possible from Ubuntu, you’ve to make sure that Windows is made available to receive connections from remote. For that you’ve to enable Remote Desktop Connections, click the Start button, right-click on Computer and choose Properties.
    2. In the System Properties window, click Remote settings in the left panel.
    3. In the Remote tab of the System Properties window you’ll have three options to choose from under Remote Desktop:
    4. Select one of the bottom two options. The instructions that I read said that I should ideally select the second option but it worked fine for me even though I selected the third.
      Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop.
      Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication.

    These settings should set your Windows 7 operating system to allow remote connections or to allow remote desktop administration from another Windows machine or Ubuntu.

  • Check Windows Firewall and Antivirus.
    Before you go to your Ubuntu machine, make sure the Windows firewall settings are not set to block remote connections to Windows 7. Also make sure Antivirus is not blocking remote connection or ping. In my case I had Mr. Extra Effecient Mcafee antivirus which was not even allowing ping reply from Windows. I didn’t need Mcafee on Windows 7 machine anymore after I realized I have Microsoft’s Security Essentials already installed, so I uninstalled Mcafee Antivirus and my Ubuntu machine started receiving ping reply.
  • Computer name  & IP address: Make a note of your Windows machine’s name and ip address.
  • Ping test: Open Terminal in Ubuntu and do a ping test to the Windows machine. First using the computer name, if that didn’t work then try pinging the ip address.
  • Install Remote Desktop Client: RDP protocol is Microsoft’s proprietary protocol for remote connections however client applications can be used on non-microsoft operating systems to connect to Windows operating systems. There’s many RDP client apps for Ubuntu and Ubuntu doesn’t come with one even though mine got installed somehow by itself (not sure how, probably the regular updates might have installed it). Remmina Remote Desktop Client is a simple client that also saves the information for later use. You can install it through Ubuntu Software Center. If you are on Ubuntu 12.10 click “Ubuntu Software Center” icon from the bar or just type the word “Ubuntu” or “software” or “Ubuntu Software Center” in the Dash and click on the icon. Search for Remmina Remote Desktop Client and install it.
  • Launch Remmina Desktop Client app: There should be a shortcut in the bar for the app, if not click on Dash and type Remmina and it’ll search you the application. Click on it to launch it. To setup a new profile or connection to the Windows machine, type a descriptive name of the windows machine. In the server field type the computer name or the ip address. Set the client resolution and color depth and click on connect. You can check the share folder option to share Ubuntu folder in Windows machine. You can also change the sound and print options using the advance tab.

You shouldn’t have problem connecting to your windows machine if you follow the above settings carefully. For any comments and suggestions use the comments section below.