How to configure remote desktop for Linux

| By:
Katarina Palacios

In today’s mobile and flexible work environment, many employees work remotely or travel to other office locations and need access to their complete desktop from a laptop or other device. IT professionals may also need to access a user’s Linux device to troubleshoot issues or perform updates and repairs. Fortunately, there are several ways to configure a remote desktop setup to successfully access and manage a computer running Linux from any location with an Internet connection. 

Linux is a popular (and free) operating system for its open-source code and its customizability, adaptability, and security. However, that same flexibility can make it tricky to set up a Linux remote desktop. 

While there is a basic process, it can differ depending on the kind of Linux distribution involved, such as Ubuntu, Fedora, or Mint, as well as the operating system of the client computer and other factors. It may be necessary to look up one of the many online resources available on Linux and its distributions to make sure you are using the correct method.

With that said, there are some fundamental ideas and practices that can set you up for success with remote desktop for Linux. Let’s take a look.

Why remote desktop is useful for Linux

A remote desktop connection for Linux enables you to securely take control of Linux devices, no matter where it is located. Employees have quick access to files on different devices, helping them complete tasks faster. Many servers around the world use Linux, making remote desktop access even more critical.

Other benefits of Linux remote desktop include:

  • Efficient IT support: IT teams can diagnose and even repair devices remotely to support a distributed workforce.
  • Real-time collaboration: Multiple users can use the remote desktop to connect to one Linux machine and work together on a project at the same time.   
  • Lower equipment and travel costs: Because users can access their Linux devices remotely, there’s no need to invest in multiple devices for several locations. Nor do users need to commute or travel to use a Linux device—they can access it from wherever they are. 
  • Flexibility: Remote desktop for Linux can be used to access a variety of devices using the OS, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This flexibility allows users to work from their preferred device and location.

Tools you can use to configure remote desktop for Linux

While it’s possible to set up a remote desktop for Linux using manual commands, this can get complex and doesn’t always allow for more advanced configurations or more advanced functions. Tools like remote desktop clients simplify the setup and configuration process and also provide additional features and benefits, such as:

  • Complex functions like multi-client collaboration for troubleshooting
  • More secure connections to prevent breaches and failures
  • User-friendly dashboards and interfaces

There are many remote desktop clients available for different Linux distributions, including open-source versions easily available online. But configuring and managing Linux remote desktop access for multiple users can get complicated pretty quickly. Connectwise Control’s remote support software powers more effective remote IT support, from built-in world-class security to comprehensive reporting. See how it compares to other solutions and explore our affordable pricing options for teams of all sizes. 

Setting up remote desktop for Linux: example process

There are various protocols for setting up a Linux remote desktop, including RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol), VNC (Virtual Network Computing), and SSH (Secure Shell), although the basic steps involved are similar. Choose the protocol that works with your client computer’s OS and aligns with your Linux distribution and other considerations.

In this example, we’re showing a simple option for how to enable remote desktop on Debian Linux using ConnectWise Control.

Begin to build an access agent installer: While in ConnectWise Control, click Access from the navigation bar and click the Build button.

Choose a name for your access session: You have two main options here, either naming the session by the name of the machine or adding your own value.

Enter any relevant additional information for the access agent: By default, there are 4 custom fields to fill out: Company, Site, Department and Device Type.  

Choose your installer type: For this example, we would pick Debian Linux.

Share your installer: This can be done by sending a link, downloading, or copying a URL.

Install the access agent: For Debian Linux, this is done by entering the following command in a terminal window: 

sudo dpkg -i ConnectWiseControl.ClientSetup.deb

After these steps are completed, you should be able to see the client appear on the sessions list in the Access section.

With this example, we want to just reiterate that there are many distributions of Linux, and it’s important that you find a remote access solution that allows you to target them.

How to make sure your Linux remote desktop is running correctly

If you’re connecting a Linux remote desktop for the first time, you want to make sure it’s running the way it should. Once you’ve connected to the remote desktop, you should be able to open files and use applications normally. 

If not, you may need to test the connection or do some troubleshooting, such as making sure both computers are connected to the network, checking the IP address of the Linux device, and verifying the status of the remote desktop service. If the remote desktop is functioning slowly, the network bandwidth may not be sufficient or reliable enough to handle the data demands of the connection.

No matter what operating system your customers or teammates are using, ConnectWise Control makes accessing remote desktops simple and secure. Customize experiences, get insights on your IT team’s productivity, and more. Start your free 14-day trial today to see how ConnectWise Control can support your organization.


Setting up a Linux remote desktop can be pretty simple. All you need is a Linux device, the device you want to connect to it, a remote desktop client, and an Internet connection. You may want to add some extra features and security, but those are the basics.

Like any remote connection, remote desktop for Linux should be protected against hacking and other threats. These are a few measures you can take to keep your connection secure.

  • Use best practices for strong passwords.
  • Make sure all software (both client and server) is up to date.
  • Use firewalls to restrict access.
  • Set a limit on the number of users who can log in to the remote desktop.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for remote access.

If you have problems logging into your Linux remote desktop connection, these are a few steps you can take to fix it.

  • Check for recent updates to the client OS. Updates to Windows can affect RDP, for example. Other updates may affect different protocols.
  • Adjust firewall settings. You may need to switch the connection to a different port.
  • Verify the remote desktop server status. 
  • Look up logged errors or issues. Find the logs of the remote desktop service for any error messages or warnings. You can usually find the logs in the /var/log directory.