Saturday, 13 April 2013

Setting up xrdp for Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal)

I decided to give Ubuntu a go on an old computer today, but I've not got a spare monitor/keyboard/mouse to hook up to it and decided I'd like to remote in to it. I could either use VNC (which actually has the same issues as xrdp anyway) or use xrdp so I can use a familiar environment like Windows Remote Desktop.

However it wasn't as straight forward as installing xrdp, as I had a couple of issues, namely:

  • Blank (plain with just the desktop) screen when connecting
  • The 'd' key caused all windows to be minimized.

Installing xrdp

This is the easy bit. Open up the terminal (Ctrl+T) and type in:
sudo apt-get install xrdp

Fixing the plain screen

The problem seems to lay with the Unity interface, so unfortunately if you are wanting to use that then this fix isn't for you. However, you can use the older Gnome interface by first checking you have it installed:sudo apt-get install gnome-fallback

and then creating an xsession file that specifies what interface to use:
cd /home/adrian
echo "gnome-session --session=ubuntu-2d" > .xsession
sudo /etc/init.d/xrdp restart

Fixing the 'd' key problem

This problem appears to be due to one of xrdp's dependencies (as I had the same issue using VNC too), and I didn't have the problem when using the machine with a keyboard directly.
It seems that the <super> key is ignored when remoting in, and so any key combinations that require the super key are simply ignored. Clearly this is quite frustrating and so I just disabled them.

Open the dconf Editor:

and navigate to:
org > gnome > desktop > wm > keybindings

Find anything with the "<super>" in it and either remove it all together (leaving behind square brackets "[]"), or replace it with another key.

After these fixes it's all up and running great!