If you work from home or are too far from your Ubuntu PC, setting up a remote connection makes sense.
Ubuntu has a built-in remote desktop tool. This way, you have complete control of your desktop from any other computer or mobile device. You will see what is displayed on this screen, and you will be able to move your mouse and even type!
The remote desktop function supports RDP and VNC and is integrated into Ubuntu as standard. Here's how to use remote desktop software with Ubuntu.
3 ways to remotely control Ubuntu
In general, you have three options for remotely controlling an Ubuntu PC:
SSH: Secure Shell
VNC: Virtual Network Computing
RDP: Remote Desktop Protocol
While many Linux users consider SSH their preferred remote connection tool, it lacks a graphical user interface (GUI).
Usually these three options are separate. However, thanks to the remote desktop tool built into Ubuntu, you can use SSH, VNC, and RDP in the same app. Linux, Mac, and Windows PCs can use remote desktop tools to control Ubuntu, as can Android and iOS.
Enable Ubuntu Remote Desktop
Enabling the Ubuntu Remote Desktop couldn't be easier. You don't have to install anything: Ubuntu has VNC support built in. However, you'll need to switch to the Ubuntu PC to set it up the first time.
click search and enter Desktop sharing, then click divide. You will get a simple window with options. Click the switch at the top of the window to activate the function. Then click on Share screen Click the button in the window again and click it to activate.
Making sure Allow connections to control the screen activated. For security reasons, you should also set a password here.
As soon as you enable the remote connection, the local name of your Ubuntu device will be displayed. This is a VNC address. Make a note of this for later remote access.
Remote control Ubuntu with VNC
Controlling an Ubuntu PC via VNC is straightforward from another device. Just make sure you have a VNC client or viewer app installed. Here's how to use VNC from another desktop computer.
Remote desktop Ubuntu from another Linux device
Ubuntu (and many other Linux distributions) come with a remote desktop viewer pre-installed. This means that once your Ubuntu PC is configured to connect remotely, you can connect from any Linux distribution you use.
click search and enter remote control.
Select the first result Remmina.
Choose VNC in the drop-down menu on the left.
Enter the VNC address (or IP address) that you wrote down earlier for the Ubuntu PC.
Tap Enter to start the connection.
When prompted, enter the password.
As you add devices, they are saved in the list so that you can access them quickly in the future.
Use this tool to connect to other Ubuntu desktops on your network and you will control this computer remotely. The tool can also be used to control any computer that has a VNC client installed.
Remote connection to Ubuntu on Windows
Would you like to control your Ubuntu computer from a Windows computer? Use the same VNC address (or the IP address of your Ubuntu computer).
But first you need a VNC client like VNC Viewer (from VNC Connect) installed on your Windows computer. You can then connect to your Ubuntu computer by entering the VNC or IP address.
For more information, see our guide on how to remote desktop connect to Ubuntu on Windows.
Set up an Ubuntu remote desktop from a Mac
Mac users looking to connect to their Ubuntu computers should use the built-in VNC viewer tool.
Again, connecting to your Ubuntu computer is a simple matter of entering your IP address or the given VNC address. Would you like detailed information on how to use VNC on a Mac?
Check out our tutorial on how to easily support remote desktops on Mac.
What about RDP on Ubuntu?
It is also possible to connect to an Ubuntu PC via RDP.
The Remote Desktop Protocol is a proprietary system developed by Microsoft. It has proven so successful that RDP server and client apps are available on most software platforms.
RDP's authentication system is based on your computer's username and password and is quick and easy to set up.
Configure Ubuntu RDP
Before you can connect to Ubuntu using RDP, you need to know the IP address of the remote computer. The easiest thing to do is to open a terminal and enter
Be sure to observe the
Value corresponding to the connection type. For example, if the Ubuntu computer is on ethernet, use that IP address.
Next, you need to install xrdp. This is an RDP server for Ubuntu (and other Linux devices) and is needed before connecting remotely.
sudo apt xrdp install
After the installation, start the server with
sudo systemctl enable xrdp
When xrdp is running, you can use RDP.
Set up a remote desktop RDP connection with Ubuntu
As mentioned earlier, RDP clients are available for most platforms. For example, you can use Remmina's RDP feature if you're using a Linux computer to remotely control Ubuntu. RDP is also integrated in Windows.
If you're using a standard desktop, follow these steps to connect to Ubuntu using RDP.
- Ubuntu / Linux: Start Remmina and select RDP in the drop-down box. Enter the IP address of the remote PC and tap Enter.
- Windows: Click begin and type rdp. Find the Remote Desktop Connection app and click to open. Enter the IP address of your Ubuntu computer and click Connect.
- Mac: First, install Microsoft Remote Desktop 10 software from the App Store. Start the software and click Add desktopAdd the IP address under PC name, then save up. Just double-click the connection icon in the app window to start a remote desktop session.
Here is our guide to using RDP on a Mac. It aims to remotely control a Windows PC, but the setup is the same for Linux.
Note that the first time you connect, RDP will ask for your credentials for the Ubuntu PC account.
Use Chrome Remote Desktop with Ubuntu
If you can't set up remote desktop access with Ubuntu, there is a near-universal alternative that you can try: Chrome Remote Desktop.
This is a cross-platform downloadable tool for Linux, Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS that allows you to remotely access your PC. You can also use the Android or iOS mobile app for remote access.
Chrome Remote Desktop is used to manage remote access through your Google account. All you need is an access code for the remote PC. Once a remote desktop session has started with Ubuntu, you can control your computer like any other remote tool.
For more information, see our Chrome Remote Desktop guide.
Can you control Ubuntu remotely from home?
Want to connect to your Ubuntu computer while traveling? It's a little trickier, but not entirely impossible. You need a static IP or a dynamic address from a service like DynDNS.
This means that a web address is generally forwarded to a device on which DynDNS is running in your network. Check out our tutorial on Using DynDNS to Connect to Your Computer from Anywhere for details and examples.
Establish a remote desktop connection with Ubuntu
Regardless of your remote desktop needs, Ubuntu won't limit you. It has built-in tools that make sure you can cast SSH, VNC, and RDP onto your Ubuntu PC.
And if the native remote control app is too complicated, you can use the easier option of Chrome Remote Desktop.
Do you have different remote needs? Here's how to remotely control Ubuntu from Windows. Are you using a Mac? Learn how to use Apple 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.
More from Christian Cawley
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