Connect to a Windows PC from Ubuntu using Remote Desktop Connection
Connect to a Windows PC from Ubuntu using Remote Desktop Connection
Nowadays, thanks to technologies like remote desktop access, people can connect to and remotely take over computers that they cannot access physically. Windows’ built-in remote desktop, called Remote Desktop Connection , is one of the most common remote desktop tools for Windows systems in the world. But how about other platforms? For example, can you use Remote Desktop Connection to connect to a Windows PC from Ubuntu, as well?
What is Remote Desktop Connection?
Windows has a default component called Remote Desktop Services (RDS), which enables users to have a remote desktop experience. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a proprietary protocol created by Microsoft that is used in RDS client components such as Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) and Windows Remote Assistance [internal link to ].
Remote Desktop Connection is installed by default on all versions of the operating system, since Windows XP. However, the Remote Desktop client does not connect to Starter and Home versions of Windows. In other words, only the Professional/Enterprise/Ultimate versions can act as a Remote Desktop host, although, you can use Remote Desktop Connection as the client in all editions of the recent Windows versions (Home, Professional, Enterprise, etc).
Remote Desktop Connection has also official versions for macOS, FreeBSD, and Linux. Moreover, Remote Desktop clients for Windows Phone, Android and iPhone are available for free at Microsoft Store, Google Play, and the Mac App Store.
Remmina, the default remote desktop client in Ubuntu
It is very easy to remotely connect to a Windows device from your Linux system. One of your top options for establishing a remote desktop session from Linux is Remmina.
Remmina is the default remote desktop client in Ubuntu. Remmina supports various network protocols in an integrated and consistent user interface, including RDP, VNC, NX, XDMCP, and SSH. It enables system administrators to remotely control several computers across different platforms and in front of varied monitor sizes, ranging from large monitors to small netbooks.
How to connect to a Windows PC from Ubuntu?
This is a step-by-step tutorial on how to connect to a Windows PC from Ubuntu. We mention some important settings that you should configure in your first remote connection. Bear in mind that you can have a remote connection from Ubuntu to Windows, even without getting into some of these details. However, following said guidelines saves you from having to reconfigure the remote desktop connection profile the next time you need to establish such a connection between the two systems.
Turn on Remote Desktop Connection on the host
The first thing you need to do is enabling Windows Remote Desktop Connection on the computer that you want to use as your host. You can enable this built-in component from the Control Panel or the Settings app (for Windows 10).
In order to turn on RDC via the Settings app, you need to open the System category on your Settings app. Scroll down the left column and click “Remote Desktop” in the column on the left. Now, you can see the “Enable Remote Desktop” switch, so set it to “On” and click “Confirm” in the dialog box that opens.
Then, your Remote Desktop Connection is enabled, and as you can see you have a couple of options regarding your remote sessions. For example, you can choose whether or not to keep your PC awake for connections when it is plugged in, or whether or not you want your PC to be discoverable on private networks.
Set up a Remote Client Software on the Ubuntu system
Now, you need to choose a good remote client tool for your Ubuntu-running client system. There are several reliable remote desktop tools for Linux systems that support RDP. As mentioned earlier, in this guide, we use Remmina Remote Desktop Client which can be downloaded from Ubuntu’s Software Center.
To install Remmina, make sure to use an account with administrative permissions in your Linux system.
Set up your first remote desktop session from Windows to Ubuntu
Now that your remote desktop apps on both sides are up and running, you can start establishing your first connection. To do so, click on Remmina and run it on the Ubuntu machine.
When the app screen appears, click on “Create a new remote desktop file” on the top left of the page. Now, you need to provide your Remote Desktop Connection credentials. There is a section called “Profile” where you enter a name for the Remote Desktop Connection you’re configuring. Other tabs and options in this section can be left with their default values.
Another part that needs your attention here is the “Protocol” section where you should select “RDP- Remote Desktop Protocol”. Finally, find the “Basic” tab and in the “Server” section, type the IP address to the remote Windows PC that you plan to connect to.
Below the Server field, you can see two other boxes called “User name” and “User password”. This is where you enter the credentials for an existing user account that you are going to use on the Windows side of the remote connection. Note that if your Windows host is a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 computer and logins with a Microsoft account, then you can fill in said fields with that Microsoft email and its password. Ther is also a “Domain” field which is for people whose Windows system is part of a domain.
Set up remote desktop’s resolution and color depth
Another helpful option that can play a role in having a more satisfying remote desktop experience is the resolution settings. It is placed right under the username/password section in the Basic tab of the Profile panel. The default choice for the remote desktop resolution is "Use client resolution" and for the Color depth, it defaults to the highest possible quality. These are usually good choices, though you can always try smaller values if you encounter lags or unusual delays in your remote connection.
Set up other options
You are almost ready to start your first connection, however there are other options that you may find interesting. For example, you can allow sharing folders from your Ubuntu system with the Windows computer. Also, there are more advanced settings you can opt to change, such as turning on or off the sounds, share printers, disable clipboard sync, etc.
Save and connect
OK, you are ready to go now. You just need to “Save” (or “Save as default”) the new configurations and click Connect. If your Windows computer is ready too, your remote desktop connection should start within seconds.
For future connections between the two systems, all you need to do is open your saved profile and hit “Connect”. Also, if you have saved the settings as default, you can use them for remote connections to other systems, as well.
Remote Desktop Services and RDP are built-in features in Windows systems, but that does not mean you cannot use this widespread technology to have remote desktop sessions with non-Windows computers.
Anyone a little bit familiar with using Linux systems can use this step-by-step guideline to easily connect to a Windows PC from Ubuntu using Remote Desktop Connection.