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Windows Remote Desktop on Linux

In this short guide I will describe how to obtain access to a Windows Remote Desktop session using rdesktop on Linux – assuming you obtain VPN access to your companys network using SSL-explorer. You are invited to make suggestions and provide alternatives in the comments section – but I will not provide support for SSL-explorer, rdesktop, Linux, java or anything else.

I first tried to connect to a Windows XP box through SSL-Explorer using rdesktop on a Fedora 11 box, but soon realized I needed to change permissions for Sun Java etc. in order to succeed. Instead I installed Linux Mint and from then on, everything went smooth.

Linux Mint is a distro built on top of Ubuntu – which in itself is built on Debian. Linux Mint provides a smoother experience and easy install options for several non-open-source programs and drivers.

If you are not an open-source fanatic and do not hold the brown color design of Ubuntu dear, but otherwise like the Ubuntu experience, then Linux Mint is your choice.

Here we go: I login to the SSL-explorer homepage (remember to set a security exception in your browser) – on the initial logon you need to accept some Java-dialogs – the SSL-agent attach itself to the panel and my office computer appears in the applications folder of the SSL-menu. I right-click the SSL-agent in the panel and choose “Tunnel Monitor”, which makes the Tunnel Monitor window appear. When I click the icon for my office computer, the Tunnel Monitor informs me a connection on local port xxxxx is being attempted. I then run the following command from a terminal: rdesktop -g 1600×1150 -a 16 -k da

The “-g 1600×1150” option gives me the desired size of the remote desktop window, the “-a 16” option tells rdesktop, we will be using a 16 bit color resolution for the session, and “-k da” makes rdesktop aware, I use a keyboard with Danish layout.

A note on choice of remote desktop window size: I use the ‘xinerama’ option provided by the proprietary Nvidia graphical driver. As such I cannot use rdesktop with the “-g workarea” option (I use a setup with two monitors). On the monitor I use for the remote desktop session, I have a panel on the top of the screen. I right-click the panel and choose “Properties” (I use Linux Mint with the Gnome window manager) The Properties dialog informs me the height of the panel is 24 pixels. Since my monitor has a 1600×1200 resolution, I choose to use the option “-g 1600×1150” (I also need 24 pixels for the remote desktop session window bar).

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