Remote Desktop

Revision as of 14:54, 10 July 2014 by Rleimens (talk | contribs) (This is a complete renovation of the Remote Desktop)
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Remote Desktop allows you to connect to another computer from a network that is compatible. Currently, at UMIACS, this feature is only supported for Windows hosts using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). If you need to remotely connect to a UNIX host, please see SecureShell. With RDP, you can control your Windows desktop environment through a graphical user interface. Mouse and keyboard movements are transferred over a network to a Windows host running an RDP server, which sends screen refreshes back.

To access an RDP enabled machine, you must be on the UMIACS physical network or VPN. You must also be authorized to access and remotely control the host you are requesting. If a remote session is active, it is not possible for another user to log onto the console in-person. Attempting to use RDP when a computer is in use by another user could force the existing user to logoff and lose their work. You should always quit RDP by logging off of the remote computer. Simply quitting the RDP client can cause you to stay logged in and prevent other users from accessing the remote host, even at the physical console.

Remote Clients/Viewers

There are a variety of tools available for accessing RDP enabled hosts. The following are the tools currently supported by UMIACS.


Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) is the included client for Windows machines. If you are using a Windows machine to access a host through RDP, this is the tool you should use.

Using RDC

1) To start the RDC client, click the "Start'" or "Windows" button on the taskbar. In the menu, navigate to "All Programs," "Accessories," then select "Remote Desktop Connection". Alternatively, you can search for "Remote Desktop Connection" in the Start menu's search field.

2) Once RDC client starts, type the name of the RDP/Windows host you are trying to access. The name should be the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FDQN), i.e. "". At this point, click "Connect" to initiate the RDP session.


3) After the connection is started, a warning message may alert you to an identity verification failure. For UMIACS machines, you can ignore this and proceed by selecting "Yes"


4) Upon reaching the Windows Security prompt, enter your PC credentials. If the username is either not correct or not the desired account, select "Use another account". Click "Ok" when you are done.


5) You should now be viewing the remote computer. To terminate the session, you should logout of Windows.

To switch between your current host and the remote host, click the minimize or "-" button on the top connection bar. With RDC, the clipboard can be transferred between the remote and current host while the RDC client is running and logged in.

UNIX Hosts

Given the diversity among our UNIX hosts, different RDP clients work best with different Operating Systems. See their descriptions or the table at the bottom of this page for compatibility details.


If you are trying to access a Windows host via RDP on a Mac, you should use CoRD. The binary can be downloaded from by clicking

To install CoRD, drag the app from it's download folder to the Applications folder.

1) With CoRD installed, launch the app from the Applications folder. At this time, you may wish to right click (CTRL+CLICK) on the Dock icon, hover over 'Options,' and select "Keep in Dock."


2) Under the "File" menu, press "New Server...".


3) On the New Server pop up, fill out the appropriate information. The Address should be the Fully Qualified Domain Name of the RDP remote server (i.e. For the Username field, type your UMIACS username, then type "PC" in the Domain field. You may select a desired screen resolution or leave the default, whichever you prefer. You may also choose a name for this connection under the label field. When you are done creating the RDP connection, close the new connection popup.


4) Go to the "Servers" menu on the top bar and select "Servers." Choose the name you gave your connection in step 3.


5) As with Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection, enter your password credentials at the login prompt. Be sure to quit by using the Windows logoff function when you are ready.


If you are trying to access a Windows host via RDP on a RHEL6 or Ubuntu 12.04/14.04 machine, you should use the rdesktop client from the command line. This should be preinstalled, so there is no configuration that needs to happen.

To use rdesktop, open a shell prompt and type the following command, replacing any $REPLACEME with the requested value.

 rdesktop -r clipboard:CLIPBOARD -g $GEOMETRY -d PC -u $USERNAME  $HOSTNAME 


  • $GEOMETRY: Percent of remote host's screen to mirror on the client
  • $USERNAME: Your UMIACS username (Do not include domain name)
  • $HOSTNAME: Fully Qualified Domain Name (FDQN) of the desired remote host

Once you have connected, you will be directed to a Windows login screen where you can complete the login process.


Xfreerdp is the replacement for rdesktop included with newer Linux hosts, starting with RHEL7 and Ubuntu 12.04/14.04. You should use the xfreerdp client from the command line. This is preinstalled on these newer hosts.

The command for xfreerdp is a bit different than rdesktop. To connect via RDP to a remote host with xfreerdp, type the following command, replacing values as appropriate:

 xfreerdp -d PC -u $USERNAME --plugin cliprdr -g $GEOMETRY $HOSTNAME 

Similar to rdesktop, here is an explanation of the values above:

  • $GEOMETRY: Percent of remote host's screen to mirror on the client
  • $USERNAME: Your UMIACS username (Do not include domain name)
  • $HOSTNAME: Fully Qualified Domain Name (FDQN) of the desired remote host

As with any of these RDP solutions, closing xfreerdp (using the top bar or using CTRL+C) without logging out could cause considerable problems for other users of the workstation. Please be sure to logout after you are finished with the remote machine using the Start menu.

Comparison Table

Windows 7 RHEL 5 RHEL6 RHEL7 Ubuntu 12.04 Ubuntu 14.04 Mac OS X
CoRD Yes
rdesktop Yes Yes Yes Yes
xfreerdp Yes Yes Yes