Set up a Linux server? Perhaps you configured it as a network storage solution. Or you have a Linux work PC, media center, or simple secondary PC in another room.
Either way, at some point you will need to access the Linux device from a Windows PC or laptop. So what's the solution?
Windows users have several tools that enable a simple remote desktop from Windows to Linux. Would you like to know how to access your Linux desktop from Windows? Continue reading!
You need the IP address of the Linux device
Before you begin, find the IP address of your Linux device. You will need this for all remote connection options, although in some cases the host name (the network name of the device) will be sufficient.
The easiest way to check the IP address is to log into your Linux device and open the terminal. Enter:
The device's IP address is displayed.
If the Linux box has an ethernet connection, the address will be listed next to eth0. If it's connected wirelessly, look for the IP address listed under wlan0.
If this isn't easy or convenient, there is another method that is almost as easy. Connect to your router in your browser window. This is usually an address like 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.100. You should be able to verify this by looking at the router itself or the documentation that came with it.
After logging into the router, look for an option labeled “Connected Devices” or something similar. Search the IP addresses to find your Linux device by host name. Some routers can even display the device's operating system. You will find the IP address opposite.
Make a note of the IP address as you will need it later. And make sure you know the username and password for your Linux computer or server!
Access to a Linux desktop from Windows via RDP
The first and easiest option is RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) which is built into Windows.
Before you start, you need to install the xrdp software on your Linux box. You can do this in person or using SSH (see below) with a single command:
sudo apt xrdp install
For RDP to Linux, run the remote desktop software on your Windows computer. In Windows 8 and above, it can be found via search by simply typing the letters "rdp".
Open the Remote Desktop Connection window:
Enter the IP address
Use Show options for all advanced connection needs
As simple as that.
Benefits of RDP: While it may take a little longer to set up, using RDP provides high reliability and remote desktop access on Linux. This makes it an ideal tool for working remotely with Linux computers.
If you plan to use RDP regularly, you can save time by creating these custom configurations for Windows RDP.
Remote in Linux from Windows with VNC
A virtual network connection (VNC) also enables remote access to your Linux desktop. As with RDP, however, you need to install special software. VNC server software is required on the Linux box. a client app on Windows.
One of the most popular options for connecting to Linux using VNC is TightVNC. You can find the Windows client software on the website. However, make sure you choose the correct version.
Download: VNC for Windows
Then install the tightvncserver on your Linux box. This can be done via SSH (see next section) or with physical access to the computer.
On Linux, first check for updates:
sudo apt update
Next, run this command:
sudo apt install tightvncserver
After the installation, run the tightvncserver command and set a password when prompted.
There is an eight character limit on passwords. If tightvncserver is now running, you will see a notification with the port number. Make a note of this.
To remotely connect to Linux from Windows:
Run the TightVNC Viewer app on Windows
Enter the IP address and port number
Enter the password you set when prompted
The remote desktop will then open and you will be able to use the app of your choice within reasonable limits. Certain applications with high graphical requirements are unlikely to run reliably, if at all.
Advantages of VNC: TightVNC offers quick access to the remote PC and has its limits. You can perform standard computing tasks, but media-related activities are severely limited.
Remote in Linux via SSH
SSH (Secure Shell) is a great way to get remote access to your Linux device. With this option, you're not limited to Windows either, as SSH can be used from almost any device. It's also very safe.
You have two options for SSH on Windows:
SSH in Windows PowerShell
Download the PuTTY SSH tool
Let's look at both of them.
RAS Linux with SSH in Windows PowerShell
Windows PowerShell is the new command line tool in Windows 10 and replaces the old Command Prompt app. Right-click Start to access the Power menu and select Windows PowerShell. To SSH, enter:
If the Linux device has an IP address of 192.168.13.123, enter:
Accept the certificate when prompted
Enter the username and password
You now have remote SSH access to Linux.
Connect to Linux remotely via SSH in PuTTY
Although not natively available in Windows, the PuTTY application can be downloaded. However, PuTTY is not installed. Instead, just run the downloaded exe file.
For simplicity, it's a good idea to create a desktop shortcut.
How to use PuTTY for SSH:
Choose session > Hostname
Enter the network name of the Linux computer or enter the IP address provided previously
Choose SSH, then to open
If you are prompted to accept the certificate to connect, do so
Enter the username and password to log into your Linux device
Benefits of SSH: This method allows you to quickly make changes to Linux without getting your hands dirty. Particularly suitable for software installations and administrator changes. It's also useful for setting up the next option, VNC! SSH is also perfect for servers without a desktop environment installed.
However, if you need a remote connection to the Linux desktop, try VNC or RDP.
Three ways to remotely control Linux on Windows
Regardless of your use case, there is a suitable option for remotely accessing Linux devices from Windows. These methods work regardless of whether the device is a server, a desktop PC at work, a media center, or even a Raspberry Pi.
From the easiest to the most difficult remote access to Linux from Windows:
RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol)
VNC (Virtual Network Connection)
SSH (Secure Shell)
If your Linux distribution is Ubuntu, you already have a built-in VNC-compatible remote desktop tool. Here's how to use Ubuntu Remote Desktop.
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About the author
(1413 articles published)
Deputy Editor for Security, Linux, DIY, Programming and Technology explains. He also produces The Really Useful Podcast and has extensive desktop and software support experience.
Christian is an employee of Linux Format Magazine and a Raspberry Pi hobbyist, Lego lover and retro gaming fan.
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