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Remote Desktop for Linux VM on Azure

Usually you don’t need remote desktop or VNC on Linux servers running in the cloud. But as I wanted to try some scenarios with a Linux desktop and I actually don’t have a physical machine loaded with any Linux OS, I ended up setting up a Ubuntu server on Azure and enabling the remote desktop on it.

Obviously, I am not the first one who want to use remote desktop on servers running on cloud. There are plenty of posts on the internet talking about how to do it. Most of them are about using xrdp + xcfe4, including this one for Azure VMs. I am using Ubuntu 15.10 image. The only gotcha is that running the following command could uninstall the waagent service.

$sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

This is a known issue that you can track on the github.com. To get waagent back, you have to reinstall it with the following:

$sudo apt-get install --reinstall walinuxagent

I ended up not installing the Ubuntu-desktop. Without it, you also avoid installing applications that you don’t need, such as those Office software.

Although xcfe4 is good enough as a lightweight window management system, I am more used to a GNOME like desktop environment. So I decided to try the MATE desktop. The configuration of it is very easy. Just run the following:

sudo apt-get install xrdp
sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment
echo mate-session >~/.xsession
sudo service xrdp restart

You may have to reboot the server after installing the desktop environment.

That’s all. I am using it now and so far so good.

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