A Linux VPS is a powerful but daunting place for those unfamiliar with navigating Linux using only a terminal.
However, using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a great way to visualize any operating system in a more familiar Desktop Environment.
There are many Linux Desktop Environments to choose from, this guide will detail how to install the Desktop XFCE via xRDP software on Ubuntu 18.04 Linux.
There are really only two steps required to set up xrdp:
- Install xrdp and the desktop environment
- Allow xrdp connections in your firewall rules
That's it! From there you will log in and use your server as you wish.
Step 1: How to Install xRDP and XFCE
In order to perform these steps, you must be logged into an account with root access to the machine! You should create a new user and give it SUDO access.
For more information regarding how to do this, please use the following link -> https://help.skysilk.com/support/solutions/articles/9000126208-how-to-create-new-users-and-grant-sudo-privileges-to-users-on-linux
Alternatively, if you've already done the above then you can continue below.
apt-get update apt-get upgrade apt-get install xrdp xfce4
***Note: If your system has limited resources, LXDE is a recommended alternative to XFCE for Ubuntu systems. Attempting to use XFCE with limited resources may produce unexpected/unwanted results***
Step 2: Configuring Firewall Rules for SSH and xRDP
Running these two commands below will ensure that you have access to your machine in the event anything goes unexpectedly. It wouldn't hurt to make a backup / snapshot on your Dashboard to maintain your files in the event of a typo or mistake. This will allow for the easiest recovery.
ufw allow 22 ufw allow 3389
***MAKE SURE YOU HAVE RAN THE ABOVE COMMANDS BEFORE RUNNING THE FOLLOWING!***
Else, you will lose your connection to the server.
ufw enable ufw reload
To use some applications you will need to log in as a user that is not root. To create another user you can follow the previous guide, without adding the SUDO access to the user. --> How to Create New Users and Grant Sudo Privileges to Users on Linux
You now have a GUI Desktop Environment for your virtual machine.
To access it from windows, simply search for the "Remote Desktop Connection" program and enter the IP address of your server to get connected.
Microsoft Remote Desktop is a free third-party tool that works as needed.