I have Ubuntu installed on my work computer. I am wondering whether I could have access to it from another computer with Windows installed. If so, could you give a step by step guide?

  • 1
    You could ask your IT department whether or not secure shell is installed, then connect to your work computer using PuTTY Mar 4, 2015 at 7:12
  • 1
    Added an answer, give it a try Mar 4, 2015 at 7:18
  • 1
    You can use any one of following. 1. PuTTY 2. VNC
    – Novice
    Mar 4, 2015 at 7:20
  • Is this work computer at work? Does your work allow remote connection? Firewalls?
    – damien
    Mar 4, 2015 at 12:51
  • 1
    Yes you can. Check out the first answer for this question, url below. It is the easiest and fastest working solution. Tested it myself. askubuntu.com/questions/477947/…
    – Ubuntuser
    Jan 13, 2016 at 6:00

4 Answers 4


Yes, you can access Ubuntu from Windows remotely.

Taken from this article.

Follow these steps :

Step 1 – Install xRDP

Open Terminal (Crtl+Alt+T) and execute the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xrdp

Step 2 – Install XFCE4 ( Unity doesn't seem to support xRDP in Ubuntu 14.04; although, in Ubuntu 12.04 it was supported ). That's why we install Xfce4.

sudo apt-get install xfce4

Step 3 – Configure xRDP

In this step, we modify two files to make sure xRDP uses Xfce4. First we need to create, or edit, our .xsession file in our home directory. We can either use nano or simply redirect an echo statement (easier):

echo xfce4-session > ~/.xsession

The second file we need to edit is the startup file for xRDP, so it will start Xfce4.

sudo nano /etc/xrdp/startwm.sh

The content should look like this (pay attention to the last line and ignore . /etc/X11/Xsession):


if [ -r /etc/default/locale ]; then
  . /etc/default/locale


Step 4 – Restart xRDP

To make all these changes effective, restart xRDP as such:

sudo service xrdp restart

Testing your xRDP connection

On the computer that will remotely control your Ubuntu machine, start you RDP client. Windows comes standard with a Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe – you can start it from a command prompt, or find the shortcut to Remote Desktop under Accessories). Or Search 'remote' in start (Windows 7) Or 'remote' in search box in Windows 8.

Remote Desktop Connection

Whichever client you use, most will work with either the computer network name or IP address of your Ubuntu machine.

To find the IP address on your Ubuntu box, type:

hostname -I

(note: this is a capital “i”)

Enter IP address of your Ubuntu machine. For example:

enter image description here

Depending on your RDP client capabilities and settings (for example: Microsoft RDP Client allows automatic login), you might or might not see the login screen. Here we enter our Ubuntu username and password and click “OK”

xRDP – Login screen

You are done,enjoy

RDP – Your Ubuntu xfce4 desktop

PS: There are some good points mentioned in comments, so I thought to sum them up.

  • If you want to access Ubuntu from outside network, you'll need your Ubuntu at work to have it's own, proper, internet IP address - a fairly unlikely scenario. To work it otherwise, you need the externally visible address of work, AND have port forwarding set to direct incoming RDP requests to your work computer on the router. (Mark Williams)

  • To use the Ubuntu MATE desktop meta-session, replace last line startxfce4 in startwm.sh with mate-session. (Frank N)

  • You can use your actual machine name (by typing hostname) rather than your IP as it might be more stable on dynamic IPs in future sessions. (Frank N)

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    Odds are this will hit trouble, if the OP means from outside - your example uses a 192.168.1.* address, which is reserved for internal networks - it won't cross the internet. You'll need your Ubuntu box at work to have it's own, proper, internet IP address - a fairly unlikely scenario. To work it otherwise, you need the externally visible address of 'work', AND have port forwarding set to direct incoming RDP requests to your work computer on the router. OK if inside the network though Mar 4, 2015 at 8:42
  • 5
    I have an Ubuntu server and a Windows machine at home, and I'm trying to connect the latter to the former. I followed the instructions above, but after I log into xrdp, all I get is a dialog that says "Connecting to sesman ip port 3350" with an 'OK' button, and nothing more. Any idea why?
    – Yuval
    Jan 17, 2016 at 18:22
  • 1
    Is ubuntu server and windows on the same network? I mean are you connecting them locally or via internet? Add IP address of your sever on windows machine as shown above, if both systems are on the same local network then the address of the both would be something like 192.xxx.xxx.xxx . If you are connecting across internet then you need to add IP address of remote machine and allow port forwarding on your router, Search google for port forwarding Jan 18, 2016 at 18:03
  • 2
    hint: To use the ubuntu MATE desktop meta-session, replace last line startxfce4 in startwm.sh with mate-session
    – Frank N
    Feb 13, 2016 at 18:30
  • 2
    using your actual machine name (by typing hostname) rather than your IP might be more stable on dynamic IPs in future sessions...
    – Frank N
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:13



Freeware implementation the X server on Windows.

This method qequires minimal setup, and is very reliable.

You must first install the SSH server on Ubuntu e.g. by physically accessing a keyboard on the machine:

sudo apt install openssh-server

Then, on Windows within MobaXterm, you go:

  • Sessions
  • New session
  • SSH

which gives you an SSH shell.

Now, if you start a program from that shell, e.g.:

sudo apt install x11-apps

xeyes opens as a separate native Windows window.

One annoyance is that if you opened the window at work, and then you get home, you have to start a new instance of the app, and you can't see the already opened window. This is made further annoying by applications that work in single window mode, e.g. browsers: you will have to search for how to force a new instance, and then you will have two instances running.

Tested in Windows 10 and Ubuntu 19.10 on a local network with MobaXterm v12.4:

  • xeyes 7.7: move pretty fast, but you have to be hovering the window itself
  • Firefox 74.0: page scrolls were pretty sluggish nearing unsability, I would not be a happy user
  • Eclipse 2020-03: works surprisingly well, I can see a bit of lag, but pretty small, even when scrolling, and trying to watch a video on YouTube makes it unresponsive
  • Chromium 79: can't open it, error message: "MoTTY X11 proxy: Unsupported authorisation protocol" asked at: https://superuser.com/questions/1111900/how-to-fix-mobaxterm-x11-proxy-unsupported-authorisation-protocol

Here is a Windows screenshot showing MobaXterm running on top left, and two program (xeyes and firefox) running on the Ubuntu remote but showing as separate native Windows windows!

enter image description here

MobaXterm X server alternatives

I haven't tried those yet, but behavior should be similar to MoabXterm? Hopefully we can find a good open source one then:


Mentioned at: https://askubuntu.com/a/592544/52975

I just want to confirm that it does not work without touching some configuration files as mentioned in that answer from Windows 10 into Ubuntu 19.10, you just get a black screen in that case: Blank desktop when logging in via xrdp

Also RDP is a proprietary Microsoft protocol which is saddening: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Desktop_Protocol But it does appear to send only minimal information unlike VNC which sends images: https://superuser.com/questions/32495/whats-the-difference-between-rdp-vs-vnc


I've tried the following programs, but they were sending the desktop as video, which incurred unacceptable screen resolution loss / mouse inaccuracy / network bandwidth if you are offsite.

Servers (run on Ubuntu):

Clients (run on Windows):

  • TigerVNC



The go-to solution if all you want is a text terminal via SSH.

First you have to install PuTTY on Windows, usually by downloading it from its website.

On Ubuntu, install the SSH server:

sudo apt install openssh-server

and then you just open PuTTY, tell it the Ubuntu IP and connect via SSH, and that gives you a terminal inside Ubuntu.

PuTTY is very convenient as it integrates both an xterm emulator and SSH / telnet and other protocols in a single package.

Then you also want to install and use tmux on Ubuntu and use tmux attach when connecting from Windows from within PuTTY as mentioned at https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/22781/how-to-recover-a-shell-after-a-disconnection, this way you can:

  • use the exact same terminals on work and at home. Yes, terminal windows get updated in real time on both machines if you type anything in either! The magic of servers!
  • not lose any sessions if the connection breaks

which is amazing!!! There are however some annoying glitches with environment variables, particularly DISPLAY: https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/75681/why-do-i-have-to-re-set-env-vars-in-tmux-when-i-re-attach

You will also want to reduce the default huge default font size: Increase font size of putty

How to copy paste in PuTTY: https://superuser.com/questions/180043/how-do-i-paste-the-windows-clipboard-into-my-putty-session-using-only-the-keybo

Then, you can just open webpages you need directly on the native Windows browser. If all you need to get your work done is Vim and and a browser, PuTTY is definitely the way to go. The only thing I miss on my development day-to-day with this setup is Eclipse.

vscode and other SSH-supported IDEs

If you're a programmer, you already know this, but here goes.

With vscode, you can using only SSH, easily setup a remote vscode server, which allows you to:

  • browse, edit and download files and directories
  • get an SSH shell

with perfect integration between the two, e.g. Ctrl + Click on SSH terminal paths open the clicked file on the editor.

In a sense, this should cater for all your non-GUI application access needs.


The best one I found is x2go.

Install on the linux machine http://wiki.x2go.org/doku.php/doc:installation:x2goserver

Install client on the windows machine: http://wiki.x2go.org/doku.php/download:start

Tune compression if it feels slow: (TL;DR use 4k-png) https://uwaterloo.ca/science-computing/student-support/x2go-tutorial

  • Good one! Because it also supports on-demand desktop sharing / remote support (see).
    – tanius
    Apr 11, 2019 at 13:35
  • While much easier than xrdp, this method is a bit resource incentive for Raspberry Pi with limited processor and RAM. But this was the easiest of all. Jun 30, 2020 at 10:23

Powershell on Windows has already delivered Windows SSH solution back in 2015 and you can just have a try.

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