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Using RDP+rdesktop to run remote windows apps on linux desktop

Note: in the following machine-name is the network name of your windows box (either real or virtual).

  1. Get rdesktop 1.5.0 or later from I used 1.6 which is in the Ubuntu Karmic repository, so i just did
    apt-get install rdesktop
  2. Prepare your windows machine:
    • Enable remote desktop Start-Settings-System → Check Remote Desktop
    • :!: Enable “Welcome screen” and “Fast user switching” in Settings-Useraccounts. If you don't do this, you will not be able to use seamless mode and possible have problems keeping your sessions alive.
  3. create a short shellscript containing your command line, e.g.:
    rdesktop -g 1024×768 -k de-ch -u user -p password machine-name


  • Performance is very good and can be tuned further using the commandline parameters of rdesktop.
  • I use this to run outlook 2003 which runs on a windows XP vmware virtual machine. Startup time and responsiveness is excellent, definitely production quality!
  • Other applications, which you have not yet found replacements for, can be run in the same way.

To enable seamless RDP mode (running applications without a desktop, taskbar etc.) you need a small server side component is available as open source from Cendio (

  1. Get the server side component, “seamlessrdpshell” from, or my local copy
  2. Unpack the files to some directory on the windows machine server, such as c:\seamlessrdp.
  3. Test seamless mode: rdesktop -A -s “c:\seamlessrdp\seamlessrdpshell.exe notepad” machine-name. If you get a full screen windows display with no notepad running, remeber to enable “Welcome screen” and “Fast user switching”.


blog/using_rdesktop_to_run_windows_apps_on_linux_desktop.txt · Last modified: 2010/02/06 05:04 by brb