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Department of Computer Science

Technical Services and Support

Windows Remote Desktop

 

Accessing CS Linux Machines With Microsoft Remote Desktop

Created 2015-08-26  & Modified 2020-09-08 by Hanz Makmur


As of April 1, 2020, “due to recent and increasing exploits utilizing RDP, a decision was made [by OIT] to block this port from the internet into Rutgers University address space.”  This decision requires everyone using Microsoft Remote Desktop to utilize a Remote Desktop Gateway or VPN. This document now reflects the changed.


One way to connect to CS Linux machines is via Microsoft Remote Desktop client.  Remote Desktop clients exists on many platforms. Below is instruction on how to access it via Windows, MacOS and Linux.

A. Connecting to Windows Remote Desktop  from WindowsOS

Windows Remote Desktop client is normally preinstalled on all Windows OS. If you can’t find it, please install  Remote Desktop clients first.

To start a Remote Desktop Connection on your PC, in the Search box on the taskbar, type Remote Desktop Connection and select Remote Desktop Connection.

There are 2 ways to use Remote Desktop client to connect to  iLab machines.  Sometimes a VPN  server goes down or a Gateway goes down so. If method 1 fails, try method 2 and vice versa. You need to follow one of the method below to connect.

Method 1: Connecting using VPN service
    • First establish your VPN connection by following VPN instruction.
    • In  Remote Desktop Connection app, type the name of the system you want to connect, example ilab.cs.rutgers.edu and select button.

      RDP login window

    • On a successful Remote Desktop login,  a connection will be made and an iLab Login window will be shown.
Method 2: Connecting Using Remote Desktop Protocol Gateway Service
    • OIT recommends this method to reduce load to its VPN server. This method utilizes University Remote Desktop Protocol Gateway Service.
    • Setting up Remote Desktop Gateway. (This needs to be setup once.)
      • To setup remote desktop gateway,  click on the Show Options  menu.

        RDP login window

      • Then Click on the [Advanced]Tab which opens another window.
      • In the [Connect from Anywhere] section, click on button.
      • A window like below will open.  Under the [Connection settings] section, enter: rdgateway.rutgers.edu in the server name as shown below:
    •  click the  button when done to return you back to previous windows.
    • To start your Remote Desktop Session, simply Click   button
    •  A Remote Gateway login window will open as shown below.  To login to the gateway, you need to enter  your username as: rad\NetIDThe word ‘rad\‘ is important and don’t forget to replace word NetID with your actual NetID.  On the second field, enter your netid password not CS Linux password.
    • On a successful gateway login,  a connection will be made and an iLab Login window will show.
Logging into iLab machine Remote Desktop
Note: you may be presented with a warning window

. window certificate error

Don’t be alarm when you see this warning. Most Remote Desktop servers do not have valid a SSL certificate installed to confirm the identity of the machine.  To continue, please Click the  button. To avoid it from asking you again, click the  ☒Don’t ask check box before clicking the   button.

On a successful Remote Desktop connection either via VPN or Remote Desktop Gateway, you will be presented with the following login window.

Select  or from the menu, enter your NetId in the Username field and your CS Linux password and click button.  On a successful connection, you will see a Linux Desktop.

Hints: to get a different Windows Manager, see Using Different Windows Manager with Remote Desktop section below. Mate or XFCE Desktop is recommended as it is faster and look familiar to MacOS or WindowsOS  users.

B. Connecting to Windows Remote Desktop  from MacOSX

If you are using MacOSX, Remote Desktop clients needs to be installed first as it does not come preinstalled on the system. You can download Microsoft Remote Desktop client from the Mac App Store. Once installed,  follow these steps.

1. Set up Remote Desktop connection to iLab.rutgers.edu

Under Window menu select Connection Center.

In Connection Center window, click , and then select  and enter as shown,

Because Remote Desktop protocol is now blocked by OIT from outside RUNet,  you need to use University  Remote Desktop Gateway or  use University VPN.  You can skip the gateway setup if you are on RUNet or are using University VPN connection.

2. Set Up Remote Desktop Gateway ( you only need to do this once)
    1. To setup a gateway by clicking menu.
    2. In the Add a Gateway window, enter as shown below
    3. In the User account field, select Add User Account and enter as follow,
      Note: make sure to replace your_netid with your actual NetID and enter your actual NetID password. When done, click on the button
3. Setup Screen Resolution

To setup your screen resolution, Click on the Display. This is where you can adjust your screen size. In this example we use . You can resize this to your liking. Once done, click button to list it in the Saved Desktop groups.

Logging into iLab Machine with Remote Desktop Client

To connect to ilab.cs.rutgers.edu desktop you just created, just click it of the list of Saved Desktop connections.

Note: You may be presented with a warning window.

mac certificate error

Don’t be alarm when you see this warning. Most Remote Desktop servers do not have valid a SSL certificate installed to confirm the identity of the machine. Please click or button to continue and avoid it from asking you again, click the ☒Don’t ask check box prior to clicking the or button.

A login window as shown below will open.

Enter your NetId in the username field and your CS Linux password in the password field and click the  buttonOn a successful login,  you will see a Linux Desktop.

Hints: to get a different Windows Manager, see Using Different Windows Manager with Remote Desktop section below. Mate or XFCE Desktop is recommended as it is faster and look familiar to MacOS or WindowsOS  users.

C. Connecting to Windows Remote Desktop  from LinuxOS

The best way to connect to iLab machines using  is to use Remote Desktop Clients on Linux. There are plenty of RDP clients on Linux like Krdc, Remmina, FreeRDP and rdesktop (no longer updated). For this document, we will focus only on a program called: FreeRDP which is commonly installed on most Linux machines. Below is a simple example of command to use it but please see FreeRDP  manual for complete info

1. Installing FreeRDP

If you are using your own Linux computer, you can install FreeRDP as follow:

To install rdesktop on RHEL/CentOS Linux, open a terminal and enter:

sudo yum install freerdp

To install rdesktop on Debian/Ubuntu Linux, open a terminal and enter:

sudo apt-get install freerdp-x11

2. Using FreeRDP on RUNet or via University VPN

First establish your VPN connection by following VPN instruction. Once your VPN is established, you can open your RDP connection as follow:

on Centos7:

xfreerdp   ilab.cs.rutgers.edu

on Ubuntu 18.04:

xfreerdp   /v:ilab.cs.rutgers.edu

3. Using FreeRDP via RDP Gateway (for users not on RUNet)

This method is a bit tricky since it requires one to login via a gateway before you can get into iLab machines. Because this app is run as a command line, and it requires your NetID password,  it is best to  set your NetID password as a variable in your bash shell to avoid escaping your password incase you have special character. We assume you are doing this in bash.

Step1. Set your NetID password as variable to be used later.

pw=’YourNetPassword!

Note: the password must be enclosed in single quote (‘) to avoid shell expansion.

Step 2: To connect, simply enter from a terminal

on CentOS7:

xfreerdp /g:rdgateway.rutgers.edu /gu:yourNetID /d:rad /gp:$pw ilab.cs.rutgers.edu

on Debian/Ubuntu 18.04:

xfreerdp /g:rdpateway.rutgers.edu /gu:yourNetID /d:rad /gp:$pw /v:ilab.cs.rutgers.edu

 

4. Connecting to iLab 

Upon successful connection  the following window will open a window below.

To login, Enter your NetID in the Username field and your CS Linux password in the password field.  On a successful connection, you will see a Linux Desktop.

If you have issues, please consult FreeRDP  manual for complete info.

D. Connecting  to Windows Remote Desktop using a Browser (BETA, may not work for students)

The University maintains an Apache Guacamole gateway that allows you to get a graphical desktop on CS Linux system or Windows machine with Remote Desktop service enabled. This method doesn’t require you to install any client. It works in your browser.  Note: The default screen size of your Remote Desktop session is set by the original size of your browser windows.

Important: To use this service, you must be enrolled in Two-step login with Duo with “Use two-step login for all Rutgers University sign-in pages, not just required services” checked.

To establish a remote desktop session using your browser, go to https://macgateway.rutgers.edu and on Apache Guacamole screen, login using your Netid/Password. You will be asked to confirm your login using your Duo App.

Once  you’ve logged in, you will see a small area to enter connection info as shown.

Under “All Connections” section, Enter in the Connection URI field as below:

  • To login to machine named ilab.cs.rutgers.edu, you would enter:
    >_  rdp://Your_NetID@ilab.cs.rutgers.edu/?security=rdp
  • To login to machine named cray1.cs.rutgers.edu, you would enter:
    >_  rdp://Your_NetID@cray1.cs.rutgers.edu/?security=rdp

Use your own netid in place of Your_NetID.  Click in the  button when you are ready to connect.  On a successful connection, the following window will open.

To login, Enter your NetID in the Username field and your CS Linux password in the password field.  On a successful connection, you will see a Linux Desktop. For more info, please consult the FAQ page.

E. Using Different Windows Manager with Remote Desktop

On CS Ubuntu Linux machines, GNOME Windows Manager is set by  default. On some situation GNOME may not work correctly or users prefer different Windows Manager like Mate, XFCE or KDE. Mate or XFCE is closer to WindowsOS/MacOS.

To switch to different Windows Manager, you will need to add .xsession file. To return back to Gnome, just remove .xsession file.

To pick specific Windows Manager, open a terminal session and type:

For Mate Windows Manager

echo "mate-session" > ~/.xsession
chmod +x ~/.xsession

for XFCE Windows Manager

echo "startxfce4" > ~/.xsession
chmod +x ~/.xsession

for KDE Windows Manager (note: iLab machines do not have KDE)

echo "startkde" > ~/.xsession
chmod +x ~/.xsession

Once you created the .xsession file, to activate the new window manager, logout and start a new Remote Connection.

Important:

To avoid logging in issues in the future, which are normally related to locked/busy files from previous session, please logout from your session properly. Do not just close the window.

For other problems, please look at

Known issues
    • For MacOSX Remote Desktop client, when user enters wrong NetID/Password combination, incomplete screen with missing text or fonts may be presented. Simply close that screen and start over.
    • For MacOSX  10.15.6 (Catalina) users, if you have keyboard issues where control or special keys do not work, please update  to MacOS X 10.15.6 supplemental update.
    • ThinClient drive or Folder Redirection is not supported due to incompatibility with Kerberos mounted home directory.
    • If you have issue connecting to specific machine, report your problem to help@cs.rutgers.edu so we can investigate but please use another machine right away and don’t delay to do your work. Hints: If you want to fix the problem yourself, often problem on specific machine is due to busy/locked files in /run/user/$(id -u $USER) that needs to be remove or renamed. To avoid this problem, please logout from your session properly. Do not just close the window.
    • Unless your computer operating system has problem, please hold on installing non essential updates to the latest version of Windows or MacOS until they are verified as safe by early adopters. This is to avoid issues with your machine you need for your class work. Recent Windows10 and Mac OS updates are full of problems. Emergency security updates are not affected by this as they are pushed by both Microsoft and Apple for immediate installation to your machines.

This concludes Windows Remote Desktop documentation. If you have issues, please contact help@cs.rutgers.edu.