How to install and use rdesktop -- the remote desktop client for Linux

Tunnel through to the other side with rdesktop

rdesktop
Credit: Stephen Glasskeys

Today's README file topic is rdesktop, the "open source client for connecting to Windows Remote Desktop Services." We'll also discuss how to configure Windows to accept rdesktop connections, and how to open an RDP connection to the same Windows machine from Linux.  

Windows settings

The easiest way to enable rdesktop to connect to any given Windows machine first requires making a few changes to properties and firewall permissions on the Windows box itself.

To start, hit the Windows+R key combo and open systempropertiesremote to view the System Properties dialog.

open systempropertiesremote Stephen Glasskeys

Click the Remote tab, choose the Allow remote connections to this computer option, and uncheck Allow connections only from computers [using] NLA. If you intend on using rdesktop to connect to a machine outside of your local network, then you probably shouldn't uncheck the NLA setting.

uncheck allow connections only from computers with nla Stephen Glasskeys

Once again use the Windows+R key combo, but this time type firewall.cpl to open Control Panel's Windows Firewall settings.  

open firewall.cpl Stephen Glasskeys

Click the Allow an app or feature through Windows Firewall link, and double-check Remote Desktop's allowed access permissions.

Windows firewall allow an app or feature Stephen Glasskeys

At this point, all of the Windows configuration tasks are complete, so we can now turn to Linux.

Linux

You can acquire rdesktop from Github here, but before you download the tarball, be sure to try to use your Linux distro's package manager first. It's always preferable to use a package manager to install software and handle dependencies automatically.

But if you haven't installed rdesktop using a package manager, extract the tarball and change directory:

# tar xvzf rdesktop-1.8.3.tar.gz 
# cd rdesktop-1.8.3
extract and change directory Stephen Glasskeys

I ran into problems using the regular, plain ./configure command specified in the README file, so use the command below if you also experience odd configure problems.

NOTE: If you do use this configure command, you should also have the Allow connections only from computers [using] NLA setting on the remote Windows machine unchecked.

# ./configure --disable-credssp --disable-smartcard 
# make
# make install
rdesktop build commands Stephen Glasskeys

Starting the RDP connection

Open an RDP connection to the windows box using a hostname or IP address, specifying the user with the -u username parameter. Please note: if you're connecting to a Windows 10 box, there's a good chance the username will end with "@live.com."

# rdesktop -u username hostname or ip address
rdesktop connect to windows Stephen Glasskeys

Finally, a remote desktop windows opens, permitting you complete control over the Windows machine.

rdesktop X window Stephen Glasskeys

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