A Linux VPS is a powerful tool, but for those unfamiliar with navigating Linux with only a terminal, using a 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 Linux OS.

There are two steps to set up xrdp:

  1. Install xrdp and desktop environment
  2. Allow xrdp in firewall rules

The following steps assume that you are logged in as root.

Step 1: How to Install xRDP and XFCE

Ubuntu 18.04:

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.

Step 2: Configuring Firewall Rules for xRDP

Ubuntu 18.04:

ufw allow 3389

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALSO ALLOWED SSH BEFORE RUNNING THE FOLLOWING COMMAND!!! Or you will lose your connection to the server. 

ufw enable

You now have a visual user interface for your VPS!

To access it from windows, simply search for the "Remote Desktop Connection" program and enter the IP address of your server to get connected.

From Mac, Microsoft Remote Desktop is a free third-party tool that works as needed.