I have a machine set up as a web server (20.04 minimal install) that I need to access remotely from my laptop (20.04 full install). Ideally I would take control of the currently active display on the web server.

I have successfully set up Remmina and xrdp so that I can connect via ssh. I get a new terminal session without any problem via ssh. Sharing the desktop, however, is another matter...

I can happily create a desktop session on either the web server or the laptop - not both simultaneously! If I have an active desktop session on the web server I cannot connect to 'take control' of that session - or even create a new desktop session with Remmina. Similarly, if I have a Remmina session logged in (not necessarily open) I cannot log in directly on the web server. My only workaround thus far is to reboot the server to knock off the existing user session and start from scratch - not ideal!

I've spent several hours over many days trying to find what I think must be a simple solution but to no avail - I've read that xrdp can handle only a single display session but not seen any info on how to get round this! Can anybody please point me in the right direction? Is there a setting somewhere that I have missed?

Apologies if this has been answered elsewhere - I simply have not been able to find it!

  • I presume something like VNC isn't what you're looking to implement in this case? You're looking for concurrent sessions right? Jan 28, 2021 at 15:43
  • If there is a user logged in to the server console then I would like to take control of that console. Similarly, if I remotely logged in to the server, I would like to be able to access that same session from the server itself. Just like we did on the windows servers before I retired! Jan 28, 2021 at 16:11
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    So, you can share the session with VNC, if that would achieve your goals, i'll post the how-to. I haven't done much with xrdp, so I'm not too sure about straight taking control of the session, but they would be able to see what you're doing and interact at the same time as you using VNC. Jan 28, 2021 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


The hint came when @Coolguy3289 mentioned VNC..

I had shied away from VNC after reading that it isn't secure - but, given I am connecting via an ssh tunnel, it is safe.

So, having vino installed all I had to do was disable xrdp then change the type of connection within Remmina from rdp to 'Remmina VNC Plugin'.

I am now happily taking control of the active desktop session on the server.

  • If you add /usr/lib/vino/vino-server to your startup programs, vino will start at boot and you may login after boot without starting the server from a ssh session.
    – starkus
    Jan 29, 2021 at 10:35
  • Glad to help out! Jan 29, 2021 at 13:10

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