Remote Desktop on an Ubuntu EC2 Instance
Andrew B. Collier
A couple of options for remote access to desktop applications on a EC2 host.
Option 1: SSH with X11 Forwarding
Connect to the EC2 host using SSH with X11 forwarding enabled.
ssh -X 184.108.40.206
In the resulting session you should find that the
DISPLAYenvironment variable is set.
With this in place you can launch an application on the remote host and it will show up on your local desktop. Try starting
gvim (assuming that you have it installed).
Option 2: Remote Desktop
- Connect via SSH.
Install a few packages.
sudo apt update sudo apt install -y ubuntu-desktop xrdp
Edit the RDP configuration file,
/etc/xrdp/xrdp.ini, on the host. Note the entry for
port, which will be important for making a connection. A minimal configuration might look like this:
[globals] bitmap_cache=yes bitmap_compression=yes port=3389 crypt_level=low channel_code=1 max_bpp=24 [xrdp1] name=sesman-Xvnc lib=libvnc.so username=ask password=ask ip=127.0.0.1 port=ask-1
In the AWS Dashboard edit the Security Group for the EC2 instance and allow inbound TCP connections on port 3389.
sudo service xrdp restart
Choose the Window Manager for RDP connections. This involves changing the contents of a user’s
.xsessionfile. You can copy the modified
/etc/skel/so that it will be propagated into any newly created accounts. However, you’ll need to copy it manually into existing accounts.
Select one of the Window Manager options below (there are certainly other options too!).
sudo apt install -y xfce4 xfce4-goodies echo xfce4-session >~/.xsession
echo unity >~/.xsession
You’re ready to connect!
- On a Linux machine, connect using
vinagre. You’ll need to specify the IP address for the EC2 host and the RDP port.
A connection will be initiated and you’ll be prompted to provide your password. Leave the port unchanged.
Once you’re authenticated you should see your desktop.
- On a Windows machine use the Remote Desktop client.