Access a Raspberry Pi with Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and REMMINA

    I am a huge proponent of Open Source software, and when I have the choice between a proprietary application or an open source one with similar features, I’ll generally opt for the open source program unless there is a compelling reason not to. In the case of remotely accessing PCs, I prefer to use RDP software over VNC. While RDP is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft, and VNC is open source, I find RDP easier to use for remotely accessing GUI based systems. If I need to access a non-GUI system, I do fall back to SSH though.
   Recently I have been experimenting with Raspberry Pi computers. (I am working to setup a Hadoop cluster, and will hopefully write more about that in the future.) The initial setup of the PI’s includes updating the package lists and installing any newer versions of the included software, setting a static IP and then installing xRDP. After that I use my Linux Mint laptop to make any further changes after I have them headless in the rack using REMMINA , which supports SSH, VNC and RDP.
    Installing xRDP on the PIs is pretty straightforward. Here is how to do that:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Enter this command to install xrdp and start it when it completed (the -y switch will suppress the “Do you want to continue?” prompt that you normally get when installing with apt-get install:
sudo apt-get install -y xrdp
If you are using a Windows machine or a Mac to access  your Pi, you can use Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection software to open a session. Its built in on Windows systems, and on Macs you can download it from the Apple App store.

On a Linux system, install Remmina with the separate RDP plugin. As of 2017, it was included in the official repositories of most of the mainstream Linux distributions so you should be able to enter this on Debian derivative distros:

sudo apt-get install remmina remmina-plugin-
or on Red Hat based distros like RHEL or CentOS, enter:
yum install remmina remmina-plugin-*
Quick Connect with Remmina

Once you have it installed, open the application. You can define a saved connection to your Pi here or do a quick connection.
From the drop down under the Connect button, select the RDP protocol. In the box to the right, enter the IP address of your PI, or if you have it defined in a DNS server, enter the host name. Finally click the CONNECT button.

A connection window will open and you will be prompted to enter your credentials to connect to the Pi. Leave the session drop down set to Xorg. Enter your user ID (by default pi) and password (unless you have changed it, it will be raspberry). Click the OK button.
The window will refresh and you will be presented with a view of your Pi’s desktop!
Stored Connection

You can also create a saved connection in Remmina so you don’t have to re-enter your information every time you want to open a window to your Pi. Click the NEW button in the main Remmina window, and you will see the window below.

  1. In the NAME field at the top, enter a value that designates the machine you are connecting to.
  2. You can have groups defined in Remmina to organize the various connections, but in this example, we’ll just leave it empty.
  3. Select RDP in the Protocol drop down box.
  4. Enter your Server name or IP address in the Server field.
  5. In the user field, enter the user account you will be connecting with (pi is the default).
  6. Leave the password field empty unless you want to store the password (not recommended) and the domain field can be left empty as well. Its used for authenticating to Windows Active Directory.
  7. For resolution, leave the “Use client resolution” option selected. You can switch it to a different value if you want the Remmina window to be a different resolution from the machine you are using, but for my purposes I leave it to the default.
  8. Color depth – choose a value that will make it easy for you to view your remote computer. 256 colors will appear washed out and the higher values may impact performance, so I generally use High Color (16bpp).
  9. Leave the Share folder option unchecked, and click the SAVE button. You’ll be returned to the main Remmina window. Now just double click the entry you just made and a new window will open. If you didn’t enter a password you’ll be prompted to enter it, and then the window will open showing your your PI’s desktop.

Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.