How to connect Linux remote Desktop to Windows – all possible options
Having reliable remote access is a vital tool for a wide array of business needs – whether that be facilitating remote work options for employees, or providing more efficient customer support.
Remote desktop access has even become a daily necessity for numerous IT professionals who need control over remote devices, or the ability to troubleshoot from afar. Here we will talk about connecting remote desktop Linux to Windows machines and vice versa. Keep reading to get all possible remote desktop linux options.
Connect To Linux From Windows – TOP Methods
A remote connection is more commonly defined by using software that allows someone to remotely control another machine (like a remote desktop to Linux from Windows, or a remote desktop from Linux to Windows). Remote connections also allow users to access software, applications, and files, as well as to conduct system maintenance and troubleshooting resolution.
The methods outlined below work well for all Linux systems other than Ubuntu- which already has a built-in remote desktop tool that supports both RDP and VNC.
For the initial connection, ensure this feature is set up on the physical Ubuntu machine. After following the installation steps for the built-in Ubuntu-compatible remote desktop option, further installation of any additional software won’t be necessary.
Linux Remote Desktop tips
We are going to focus on the specifics of using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) on Linux-based servers, i.a., client apps you get to choose from, and some nuances of using remote access tools for Linux in cross-platform environments.
Every user of Debian-derived Linux distribution knows that setting up Kali Linux remote access and successful use of remote desktop clients like TeamViewer or AnyDesk can be tricky at times. Mind that, for starters, you’ll need to download and install all the packages required to enable remote desktop Kali capabilities and update the ones you already have to the latest versions.
After that, you can either use a script to enable XFCE and RDP or do it manually (that takes more time but gives you much more control over the process). This will be enough to access your Kali machine from any other device connected to your local network.
Accessing a remote desktop from Linux Mint machines, especially the configuration of the protocols, may seem overly complicated, but in reality, it’s nothing to be stressed about. For one, Linux Mint has a built-in desktop sharing tool available from the Main Menu. Enable remote access to a machine, and it will be available for connections via SSH terminal for everyone who knows this machine’s IP address. If the toolset provided by a standard remote access client isn’t enough, you can install a third-party client tool, like Vinagre or others, and enjoy localized GUIs, SSH tunneling, request listening option, and many more.
Accessing a remote Linux desktop from a Windows machine sharing a network can be done with just a few simple commands, or by installing easy-to-use software like RDP, Xrdp, Xfce4, TeamViewer, Gnome, Remmina, etc.
Note: Some remote access tools even allow you to access a remote printer or scanner.
Here’re some options to access a remote Linux desktop from a local Windows machine:
For those using devices that function over the same network, there are multiple open-source options that help users with remote desktop from Windows to Linux access.
The IP Address Method
Before initiating a Windows to Linux remote desktop connection, users will need to obtain the host machine’s IP address before doing anything else.
To find the IP address of the Linux host, log into the Linux machine, open Terminal, and type the following:
This command will display the Linux machine’s IP address. Users can also locate the IP address by connecting to the network’s router, then browsing the devices by their hostname. Use this information while operating your Windows computer to establish a remote connection.
The “RDP” Method
The simplest option to enable remote connections to Linux desktops is by using the remote access tool built directly into the Windows OS: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
Users must install Xrdp software on their Linux machine to use RDP. Complete installation in person, or with the SSH command. Enter the command as shown below:
sudo apt install xrdp
After that, type “rdp” into the search function, then run the Remote Desktop software on the Windows computer.
From within the Remote Desktop Connection pop-up window, type the Linux computer’s IP address, then click connect.
Note: to manage advanced parameters configuration, click “Show Options”.
The “VNC” Method
Another remote desktop option to try is VNC (Virtual Network Connection). Access a remote device using VNC by installing the dedicated software on both computers. One of the most beloved VNC remote access tools is TightVNC, which is also open-source.
How to use TightVNC to access Linux from Windows
Step 1: Enter the following command:
sudo apt install tightvncserver
Step 2: Users should then run using the command:
- Step 3: Users must then set the desired password.
- Step 4: Once the above steps are complete, start the client app on Windows (which can be downloaded from the TightVNC website).
- Step 5: Type the IP address and port number in the TightVNC window on the Windows OS device.
- Step 6: Hit “Connect”, then enter the password that was defined in the SSH command section above.
Even though Secure Shell won’t permit remote desktop connections, it’s still an excellent option for remotely installing the software needed to access a Linux desktop remotely. See below to learn how to do it.
Step 1: From the Windows computer, open the Power Menu.
Step 2: Choose “Windows PowerShell”.
Step 3: Type the following command:
Step 4: After accepting the certificate, enter the appropriate username and password.
The connection is now established.
The options described above are excellent for small businesses, anyone working on a smaller network, or those who don’t need frequent access to a remote device.
The Best RDP Linux Clients To Create A Linux to Windows Remote Desktop Connection
This section will help anyone interested in protocols to connect a remote desktop to Windows from Linux.
To start, we’ll begin with using the Windows app, Remote Desktop Connection.
Utilizing the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), the Remote Desktop Connection app is included with all Windows OS. RDC allows users to access a Windows PC, or Windows Server remotely.
This is very convenient and cost-effective because organizations can install apps onto one central server, instead of multiple computer systems. Employees can then use those programs by accessing the remote server. This centralization also ensures that maintenance and troubleshooting are much easier processes.
This technology was originally called Terminal Services (TS). In modern times, web systems are far more commonplace- but situations remain where Windows remote applications are still required.
During those instances, Linux users can access Windows computers and servers remotely from their preferred system via RDP client.
There are numerous linux remote desktop clients, and we’ll cover the best of them below:
- • Remmina
- • FreeRDP & rdesktop
- • Anydesk
- • Vinagre
- • RustDesk
- • TeamViewer for Linux
- • TigerVNC
- • VNC Connect
- • Chrome Remote Desktop
After reading the features below, users can select the option that suits their unique needs.
Note: there are some instances where users may prefer to use a VPN for their remote access needs, but this article will solely focus on dedicated remote access software.
Enabling remote desktop on Windows
Users must first set up the machine that they wish to connect with remotely.
While operating the Windows computer that will be remotely connected to, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Login as Administrator;
Step 2: Open the Start menu;
Step 3: Click Settings;
Step 4: When the Settings window opens, open the System category > Remote Desktop;
Step 5: Now enable it;
Please note: users can’t connect with computers running Windows Home edition (like Windows 10 Home). This screen details the information, if that is the case:
Remmina supports numerous remote access protocols like RDP, VNC, NX, XDMCP, and SSH. Remmina’s main goal is to help system administrators and travelers that work with multiple remote desktops and/or servers. Remmina is included in the Ubuntu Linux distribution as a default remote desktop client.
FreeRDP and rdesktop
Not only was rdesktop the very first Linux RDP client, but it was also the most popular for many years. However, as of November 2019, the project is searching for a new maintainer.
Alternatively, FreeRDP was initially released in 2009 as a fork of rdesktop. This occurred when Microsoft opened the RDP specifications. As time went on, and FreeRDP grew, it became the standard RDP client on systems lacking native Microsoft clients.
Simply double-click on the computer you want remote access to from the list.
Following the Microsoft Open Specifications, FreeRDP is a free implementation of Remote Desktop Protocol. Said implementation offers the server and client applications, as well as a library that permits other applications to utilize RDP protocol. FreeRDP is both an app and a library, providing reusable features for alternative applications. Aside from rdesktop, the clients listed above utilize FreeRDP’s library.
Please note: The inclusion of rdesktop on this list was intended for informational purposes only, and unless users have a specific scenario in mind, we advise another client that is compatible with the FreeRDP library.
AnyDesk – Remote Desktop Application for Linux
AnyDesk is a fast and lightweight solution that lets users RDP from Linux to Windows. It’s a powerful, cross-platform application with clients for desktop and mobile devices. To establish remote connectivity, you must have AnyDesk installed on both ends of the connection.
The tool supports a wide variety of devices and is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and ARM devices like Raspberry Pi. AnyDesk is a popular choice as a Linux to Windows remote desktop solution and is used extensively by organizations in education, media, and government. IT professionals and home users also find AnyDesk to be an excellent way to establish RDP connections on a Linux machine.
Interactive remote desktop access is possible with AnyDesk. Your keyboard and mouse can be used to control the remote device’s graphical display. The tool also lets you share your screen for collaboration, presentation, or to enable remote IT support. AnyDesk is an excellent solution for members of the mobile workforce.
Vinagre – Remote Desktop Viewer for Linux
Vinagre is a simple, intuitive, and user-friendly remote desktop client developed for use with the GNOME desktop environment. Its minimalistic design and lack of server application are similar to Remmina. You’ll get the best performance from this application when used with a GNOME-compatible VNC server.
Vinagre is an RDP for Linux solution that also supports the SSH, VNC, and SPICE protocols. The tool does not offer mobile platform clients. This RDP Linux connectivity app can sniff a VNS server on a TCP/IP network and use SSH to tunnel connections. Active sessions can be bookmarked for later use and keyboard shortcuts can be configured. Users can also control the remote screen’s color depth before establishing an active session.
Vinagre is a Linux remote desktop client that employs simple tools to get things done. Establishing a connection involves simply selecting a protocol from a menu and entering the IP address of the target server. Once connected to a remote machine, you have a choice of just viewing its screen or interacting with its graphical interface.
RustDesk – Remote Desktop Software
RustDesk is an open source remote desktop Linux to Windows solution written in the Rust programming language. It’s a nice alternative to proprietary products such as AnyDesk or TeamViewer. In addition to establishing a remote desktop connection, the tool enables you to set up TCP tunneling and transfer files to the client.
RustDesk is a multi-platform tool compatible with the Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS operating systems. The tool provides functionality right out of the box. All that’s required to establish a connection to a remote client is its ID and password.
TeamViewer for Linux
TeamViewer is considered one of the top Linux RDP to Windows solutions. It’s a multi-platform, cloud-based program that works with virtually all commonly used operating systems.
Strong security is one of TeamViewer’s attractive features. It uses end-to-end AES encryption to keep your data protected. It’s also simple to use for beginners or users without extensive computer skills.
The drawback to TeamViewer is its price. Individual plans start at £32.90 for simple remote access with business plans starting at £61.90 a month. The cost of the tool may put it out of consideration for some users. There is a 14-day free trial during which you can evaluate the product.
TigerVNC – Virtual Network Computing Server
TigerVNC is a free, open source client/server application that supports establishing connectivity using RDP to Linux from Windows computers. It’s a simple and intuitive implementation of Virtual Network Computing (VNC) that lets you connect to a remote machine by entering its IP address. Once connected, you can freely interact with the client’s graphical interface or choose to just view the remote screen.
Security is provided via TLS encryption for data transmission. Advanced authentication extensions are available and the app listens to port 5900 by default.
It provides several options when establishing a connection including color and compression levels, encoding levels, and sharing the clipboard with the remote screen. You can also choose to simply view the remote screen.
TigerVNC is a reliable solution that offers high performance and stable connectivity. This Linux RDP solution can be downloaded from the GitHub Releases Page and is included with several Linux distros like Fedora.
VNC Connect is a popular tool that uses the VNC connectivity protocol as a foundation and adds extra features like 256-bit AES encryption. Its interface is user-friendly in comparison to some other Linux remote desktop solutions.
VNC Connect is a paid solution, but its most expensive subscription only costs £39.48 a year. A 14-day free trial is available for evaluation, but limited support is offered during the trial period.
The tool can be laggy and may demonstrate poor performance, especially when there is a lot of screen activity. Built-in encryption and multi-factor authentication provide security for your remote sessions.
Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop leverages the familiarity of the Chrome browser to provide excellent cross-platform compatibility. It’s a free solution that works on any platform supporting the Chrome browser.
The price for this ease-of-use and compatibility is a lack of features. There is no facility for text chats or file transfers that are staples of other solutions. If you are looking for a simple and free Linux RDP solution, Chrome Remote Desktop is worth a look.