How to remotely connect from Ubuntu to a Windows machine

In deciding to run Ubuntu in a Windows environment (I run a Windows server as well as a couple of Windows XP machines), one of my key concerns was being able to connect to those Windows machines.

Now, looking around Ubuntu, you might come across an application called Remote Desktop Viewer. This will happily connect between Ubuntu machines and computers running VNC servers. But it doesn’t do RDP (Remote desltop protocol) which you need to connect to Windows.

What you need is the rdesktop command line utility or the Terminal Server Client, which is a GUI front-end to rdesktop. The client is quite useful if you’re not especially fond of command line working. If you’ve used the Remote Desktop tool in Windows before, the interface is quite similar.

From what I can see, in my version of Ubuntu (8.10 – Intrepid Ibex), both rdesktop and Terminal Server Client are installed by default. Unfortunately…neither are integrated into the program menus, so you’ve got to run them from a command.

Starting rdesktop and tsclient

A good keyboard combination to know is ALT+F2 – this brings up a run window. Type in rdesktop servername and a Windows logon prompt will automagically appear. It might be a little bit small, so you can tweak the command next time.

Try rdesktop -u username -g 1024×768 servername and this will set the window size to 1024 x 768 and prepopulate the usename field.

If you want more options you can use, bring up a terminal window and type man rdesktop to get a full description of all your available command options.

tsclient – Terminal Server Client

OK, fire up that ALT+F2 command, and type in tsclient. You’ll see the following settings screen:

Terminal Services Client

You can get away with the basics of typing in the computer name in the first box, but there are dozens of options. The display tab allows you to set the window size or choose full screen mode. Have a browse among the options and see what suits you.

Anyway, as usual, I hope this helps anybody who’s trying out Ubuntu. The rdesktop tools have helped me a lot in getting into Ubuntu, but having a lifeline to my Windows environment.

If you’ve played with other remote desktop tools in Ubuntu, feel free to give your thoughts and tips in the comments.

About gerardmcgarry

Gerard is a web designer, blogger and web publisher. He's one of the founders of the enormously popular UK reality TV blog, Unreality TV and is currently developing its sister site Unreality TV USA.

11 comments

  1. Good old rdesktop saved us money back in the days of windows terminal server as it allowed connection without using up a TS license. I’m not a windows user myself so most of my deployments these days are for remote connection to linux (rather than to windows) using NXserver and FreeNX (basically X over SSH) which is as frugal bandwidth wise as Citrix and allow multi connections and accounts so easily lend themselves to linux terminal server.

    TSclient & rdesktp can also connect to virtualized windows (or other OS) installations such as virtualbox so it’s all handy stuff.

    1. Oooh, I like that idea! I worked with Citrix a lot when I was in IT, and I always wondered if something similar existed for Linux. I’ve used the NX client once upon a time when a free internet service launched an internet-based Linux service a few years ago. Of course, I should have thought of it as a multi-user environment, but I didn’t at the time.

      You…are a genius.

    1. You can install the free version of TightVNC server on the Vista machine, and TightVNC client (viewer) on the machine you want to see the Vista machine on, and it will do the same thing as rdesktop.

  2. Please donate your old boxes to a church-group or some needy student in these hard times! To comply with the law, and with Microsoft’s leasing policy, you can now replace Microsoft OS with the free (download from the net) Ubuntu OS, which can be set to erase the hard drive of all traces of the “illegal to give away ” Microsoft system and your private information, before donation! Now, explain to your lucky recipient that all the manuals they will ever need are available for free on the internet! Just ask for them in Google! OpenOffice, which is installed already is plenty adequate for homework assignments and with a little exploring, everything else can work well too! Happy computing!

  3. “Please donate your old boxes to a church-group or some needy student in these hard times! To comply with the law, and with Microsoft’s leasing policy, you can now replace Microsoft OS with the free (download from the net) Ubuntu OS, which can be set to erase the hard drive of all traces of the “illegal to give away ” Microsoft system and your private information, before donation!”

    I don’t know about you, but it was ALWAYS legal to install Linux on PCs. Maybe I misread that. Ubuntu would be a good choice for giving the machiens away. Of course, I’d rather install a Linux based off of the purpose of the machine. If I were giving a machine to a Linux hardcore, it’d be Arch.

    1. That’s quite a good point – from what I remember, any PC being sold through a retail channel was required to have Microsoft Windows installed on it. They couldn’t even be shipped without an operating system.

      I’m not sure about the earlier commenter’s claim about Windows being “Illegal to give away” though, because I think an OEM license can be transferred to a new owner without any repercussions.

  4. hy

    i need some help with the TS client

    how can i pass from Full Screen TS client into my linux (ubuntu) machine??

    If im in fullscreen i can get back to my machine if i dont disconect from the remote connection…

     

    Is there a shortcut key or something?

     

    pls help

     

    10x

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