My situation is that I have a VPS that I have recently purchased just to tinker with (through Linode, if that matters) and I would like to setup a 2-3 user Terminal Server compatible with the windows terminal services client.

I've searched quite a bit and all of the solutions I've turned up all rely on custom clients or VNC and don't support MSTSC. I've seen MSTSC-compatible linux terminal servers before, so I know they're possible, I'm just not certain which product was used.

Is my google-fu really that lacking or is there really no market for this sort of application?

  • what good is a windows terminal server that won't run windows apps? – Jim B Apr 22 '11 at 20:13
  • not a windows terminal server, just one that is compatible with the windows terminal server client. – Thebigcheeze Apr 22 '11 at 20:20
  • so you want to rdp to an xsession? – Jim B Apr 22 '11 at 20:25
  • I'm not certain about the specifics of the terminologies, but I would like to be able to run a terminal server which can be connected to via MSTSC which serves a linux session similar to how Microsoft Terminal Services serves a windows session. – Thebigcheeze Apr 22 '11 at 22:14

Using XRDP to access a Linux server:

I accomplished this successfully about 2 years ago using Nomad on OpenSUSE. If you must use XRDP, this is likely to be one of the easiest ways to get it up and running, but be warned that it is less straightforward than a traditional Windows terminal server. For example, the client must be set to use a color depth of at least 24; mstsc's default setting of 15 does not work. When things stopped working, I sometimes had to log in via ssh and restart xrdp, or even restart the entire server.

My impression is that xrdp has better support on OpenSUSE than on other distributions due to Novell's interest in the enterprise market. I have never tried to make xrdp work on Ubuntu or CentOS, but the impression I got in my initial research was that it would have been considerably more difficult.

Alternatives to RDP:

  1. X11 forwarding via PuTTY is a more time-tested and reliable option for presenting a Linux GUI on a Windows machine, if you are connecting via a local area network or a fast/low-latency VPN.

  2. NoMachine NX Server works phenomenally well and is rock-solid reliable, but requires installation of an NX client on the Windows machine. The other disadvantage here is that the free version is only "free as in beer," and you need to pay for licensing if you want support for more than 2 concurrent users.

  3. FreeNX is an open-source NX client and server. I have no personal experience with it, but the very detailed administration guide suggests that the developers took their project very seriously. As of 4/22/2011, the most recent version appears to be 2.5 years old, so the project may no longer be actively maintained.

  4. x2go appears to be an actively developed open-source alternative to FreeNX which may be well worth further investigation.

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  • +1 for x2go, I highly recommend it, much more than FreeNX. NoMachine NX is good only if you buy the full package. – Hubert Kario Apr 22 '11 at 23:18

the MS terminal client is using RDP, while Linux based terminals don't. You can access a windows terminal using Linux clients, but not vice versa

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  • The RDP protocol has been reverse engineered (or made open source, not certain) as evidenced by rdesktop, so there just hasn't been an effort to create a terminal server that is RDP-compatible then? Bummer =( – Thebigcheeze Apr 22 '11 at 18:42
  • I'm pretty sure NoMachine supports RDP, but I haven't tried it in years. – charlesbridge Apr 22 '11 at 18:57
  • there's an RDP client, but no server. – dyasny Apr 22 '11 at 19:12
  • as for noMachine, it's not open, and has it's own protocol, which isn't bad actually. – dyasny Apr 22 '11 at 19:12
  • NoMachine NX client & server provide a great way to access a Linux desktop from a Windows machine. Definitely the "cleanest" method I've tried. Downside is it costs money if you need more than 2 concurrent users. – Skyhawk Apr 22 '11 at 19:31

I found, but have not used, the xrdp project, which remains in beta though apparently under active development.

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