How to Connect to Ubuntu through Remote Desktop from Windows

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How to Connect to Ubuntu through Remote Desktop from Windows
How to Connect to Ubuntu through Remote Desktop from Windows

You’re seated at a PC in one room, while the data you need is on a machine running Ubuntu in another. No issue if both PCs are in the same home; but what if they are in separate offices? It might be a long trek!

Setting up a remote desktop connection is therefore the solution. Learn how to connect a Windows desktop to an Ubuntu desktop.

Why Remote Connect to Ubuntu From Windows?

You may wish to remote connect to your Ubuntu machine for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re at work and need to use your home computer. You may also have an Ubuntu PC in one area and a Windows PC in another. Perhaps you wish to upgrade Ubuntu or access files.

You may also be operating an Ubuntu server for data, a website, or even a game. In any case, a technique for configuring a remote connection will save a significant amount of time and effort.

You have three primary ways for connecting remotely to an Ubuntu computer using the default desktop environment:

  1. Remote Desktop (RDP)
  2. Virtual Network Computing (VNC)
  3. Third-party remote desktop software

First, however, you need to make some preparations:

  1. Enable port forwarding on the router of the remote device
  2. Find the IP address
  3. Install SSH

Let’s look at these in turn.

Prepare Windows RDP to Ubuntu Connections

Remote access solutions on the same network are easy to set up and administer. However, if you work from home, this immediately complicates matters. To utilize VNC and RDP with a PC on a separate network, you must provide access to the remote computer via its router. You may do this by use “port forwarding.” You will, however, need the IP address before you can proceed.

You’ll need the IP address before you can connect to your Ubuntu system using RDP or VNC from Windows.

Find Your Ubuntu PC’s IP Address

The first method is the simplest. Go to the Ubuntu computer, press Ctrl + Alt + T to enter the Terminal, and type the following command:

Look for the “inet addr” against the current connection you’re using. For example, if you’re connected to Wi-Fi, check for wlan0. Look for eth0 if the PC is linked to the network through Ethernet.


Another method is to locate the network connection symbol in the panel, right-click, and choose Connection Information. The IP address may be found here.

Is none of these alternatives available? You may also use your computer’s browser to connect to your router.

You’ll be able to check which devices are connected after you’ve logged into the router’s admin interface. Simply search for your Ubuntu device name, locate the IP address, and save it for later.

You must activate port forwarding on the router where your Ubuntu PC is situated in order to connect to a computer on another network (for example, your work network).

Enable Port Forwarding

Begin by determining the router’s IP address. You may do this using the ip r command and grep to specify the default:

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Make a note of the IP address, then enter it into your browser to access the router’s administration dashboard. It is easy to enable port forwarding:

ip r | grep default

Please keep in mind that these are basic instructions that may vary based on your router. Check your router’s manual for further information.

  • Locate the Port Forwarding settings Create a new rule called Remote Desktop.
  • Change the Internal Port number to 3389. Set the External Port to 3389.
  • Enter the Ubuntu PC’s IP address. NoMachine:
  • This was first introduced as a Linux remote desktop program, but it is now accessible on all major platforms. Install on the target computer, then on your local PC, then connect remotely.
  • Click Save

After saving, you should be able to remotely RDP onto the Ubuntu PC using your organization’s static IP address. If your workplace does not utilize a static IP (unlikely, although it can happen), switch to a dynamic DNS service.

If you are not utilizing commercial remote desktop technologies, your organization’s system administrator may configure port forwarding.

You may wish to install PuTTY on your computer to save time (or just try the built-in Windows SSH function). It allows you to establish an SSH connection and get remote access to the Ubuntu command line.

Set Up Access Using SSH

To be clear, this is not a remote desktop option; no mouse control is provided. However, it is beneficial to install the tools you will be utilizing remotely. SSH is often deactivated by default, so if it isn’t installed, you’ll need to enable it.

In short, it depends on the version of Ubuntu you’re running and if you’ve previously used SSH.

You’ll be able to access to the Ubuntu desktop remotely after you’ve installed it through the terminal (sudo apt install openssh-server). Simply provide your IP address as well as your Ubuntu username and password. The terminal may then be used to install the RDP and VNC utilities.

RDP, or Remote Desktop Protocol, is the simplest choice. This program, which is built into Windows, can create a remote desktop connection over your home network. All you need is the Ubuntu device’s IP address.

1. Remote Access Using Remote Desktop Protocol

While the essential software is pre-loaded on Windows, the xrdp program must be installed on Ubuntu. To do so, open a Terminal window (Ctrl + Alt + T) and type:

Wait for this to install before launching the Remote Desktop program from the Start Menu or Search. Enter rdp, then choose Remote Desktop Connection. In the Computer area, enter the IP address when the program is open.

sudo apt install xrdp

Follow this with:

sudo systemctl enable xrdp

Next, select Show Options and enter the Ubuntu PC’s Username. You can save these settings for later use by clicking Save.

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To begin the connection, click Connect and provide the Ubuntu account password when requested. The connection will then be created, giving you complete mouse and keyboard control over your remote Ubuntu PC. If you want to use this connection often, you may save time by creating a configuration file.

While RDP is a wonderful remote connection method for your Ubuntu PC, it is problematic with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. On Ubuntu, there seems to be a problem establishing a remote connection when already signed into the same account.

Troubleshooting RDP to Ubuntu

As a result, the simplest solution is to log off of the Ubuntu machine.

If it doesn’t work, try changing the RDP connection from the Xorg server to X11rdp. Wait for it to fail before attempting Xorg again. You might also try connecting after restarting the Linux computer. VNC is another method that provides complete remote desktop capability (Virtual Network Computing). It necessitates the use of a client program on a Windows PC and an Ubuntu server.

After checking for updates, install the TightVNC Server component on the remote PC:

You’ll be requested to provide a password for the connection at this point. Take note of the desktop number, which is usually:1.

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS should include a fix for this problem.

2. Connect to Ubuntu From Windows With VNC

After you’ve installed TightVNC Server on Ubuntu, you’ll need to install the client on Windows. You may get it from the official website; be sure to choose the proper version, since it comes in 32-bit and 64-bit variants. TightVNC utilities are only accessible as a bundle, so once installed, search Windows for TightVNC Viewer.

After starting the viewer, enter the IP address of the Ubuntu system followed by the desktop number in Remote Host. So it may look like this:

sudo apt update

Then install the server utility:

sudo apt install tightvncserver

You’ll then need to run it:

sudo tightvncserver

When asked, enter your password and begin your remote desktop activity!

TightVNC will encrypt your password but not anything else by default. It compromises the security of internet connections. Fortunately, SSH and Xming allow you to increase security.

Download: TightVNC

To use this, download and install the Xming program for Windows from SourceForge. After that, locate the desktop shortcut, right-click, and choose Properties.

Locate the Shortcut tab and type the following in the Target field:

To save the modification, click Apply, then OK. Launch Xming by double-clicking the icon, then launch PuTTY. Expand the Connection > SSH > X11 menu on the left.

Making TightVNC More Secure

Select Enable X11 Forwarding, then click the Session button at the top of the menu.

Enter the remote device’s IP address and click Open. A secure link to the remote Ubuntu desktop will be available shortly.

Everything you’ve learned up to this point is typical if you need to remotely access a Linux PC on your local network. If you need to go further, the procedures to enable port forwarding will be useful.

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Xming\Xming.exe" :0 -clipboard -multiwindow

But what if you don’t want to access your router? If this appears too difficult, you’ll need third-party commercial software built to allow remote desktops. There are other options, but not all of them support Linux.

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It should be noted that these tools must be configured before usage. If you have a coworker who is close to the distant PC, they may be able to assist you. More ideas might be found in our list of remote access tools.

Which remote desktop program should you use for connections between Ubuntu and Windows?

You may also use SSH to send commands to your Ubuntu PC from a distant location.

We’ve showed you three methods for connecting to your Ubuntu machine or server from Windows. Each has its own set of pros and downsides. If you just want to experiment with Ubuntu, try the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 10.

We suggest you try out:

  • Chrome Remote Desktop: Manages remote access through the Chrome browser using your Google account. TeamViewer: A popular commercial remote desktop solution. Simply install client and host software ahead of time. It also comes with a host app for remote access to Raspberry Pi devices.
  • RDP: Implements the Windows Remote Desktop Protocol using the open-source xrdp.
  • VNC: Virtual Network Computing is a less secure alternative to RDP. Commercial remote software:

Note that these tools require setting up before use. If you have a colleague near the remote PC, they might be able to help. See our list of remote access tools for more suggestions.

Choosing the Right Ubuntu Remote Desktop Solution

Which remote desktop tool for connections between Ubuntu and Windows should you use?

Three main options are available:

  • Most of them are simple to set up and work with Linux.
  • VNC: Virtual Network Computing is an alternative to RDP but less secure.
  • Commercial remote software: Most of these require minimal setup and support Linux.

You can also use SSH to issue remote instructions to your Ubuntu PC.

We’ve shown you three ways to establish a remote connection to your Ubuntu computer or server from Windows. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. But if you just want to dip into Ubuntu, try the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 10.

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