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Remote Desktop Service

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Remote access to Windows MDP

This rest of the information on this page is about remote access to DICE. If you have a Windows managed desktop computer in your office and you need to use it remotely, please follow the instructions at COVID-19 computing help for admin and professional services staff instead.


Remote access to DICE

The Informatics Remote Desktop Service provides a graphical login to the DICE Linux desktop environment. You can use it from any location, on any device which has RDP client software. (There's more about RDP technology at wikipedia.)

 

Extra hosts for COVID-19 lockdown

During the COVID-19 lockdown, we've provided more servers for the DICE Remote Desktop service. They're much faster than the previous servers, and all staff and students can use them. To use them, connect using the address UUN.remote.inf.ed.ac.uk, where UUN is your DICE username - for example s1234567.remote.inf.ed.ac.uk.

This distributes use across a number of servers, but you should get the same server every time you connect. Each server is shared with other people so, as usual, please do not run processes which need a lot of memory or CPU. (For these processes you can use a remote lab computer or a compute server. We're working on providing more resources for this purpose.)

Please use these hosts rather than the usual .xrdp.inf.ed.ac.uk ones described below.

How to use remote desktop

Limitations

The remote desktop service is a shared facility. Please use it considerately. When you have finished using your session please logout so that resources become available for others. Sessions left idle for more than two weeks will be terminated to reclaim resources.

This is not a compute facility: it must NOT be used for processes which need a great deal of memory, processing power or which take days to run. (Those can be run on remote lab computers or on the compute servers.)

To ensure fair sharing of resources, processes on this service are not allowed to use more than 4GB of memory. This means that memory-hungry software may not run. Consequently not all software is available on the remote desktop service - for example, MATLAB. You can still use that software on a lab computer or a compute server or your own DICE desktop if you have one - just login (using ssh) from the remote desktop session.

Host Information

Note: now that we have many people working remotely on account of the COVID-19 lockdown, please use the more powerful COVID-19 lockdown hosts (UUN.remote.inf.ed.ac.uk, where UUN is your DICE username) rather than the three .xrdp.inf.ed.ac.uk hosts listed below. Thanks!

We provide several remote desktop services. Note that the service for all Informatics users has two hosts. Here are the host details:

Service staff.xrdp.inf.ed.ac.uk
Access Staff, research postgraduates and visitors
Host waterloo.inf.ed.ac.uk
IP(v4) address 129.215.33.27
IP(v6) address 2001:630:3c1:33:d6ae:52ff:fe8e:663b

and

Service xrdp.inf.ed.ac.uk
Access All Informatics users
Host 1 archlute.inf.ed.ac.uk
IP(v4) address 129.215.202.144
IP(v6) address 2001:630:3c1:202:4ed9:8fff:fe57:7383
Host 2 lute.inf.ed.ac.uk
IP(v4) address 129.215.33.25
IP(v6) address 2001:630:3c1:33:4ed9:8fff:fe57:7343

and

Service dl.xrdp.inf.ed.ac.uk
Access Students taking Distance Learning courses
Host vermelha.inf.ed.ac.uk
IP(v4) address 129.215.216.12
IP(v6) address 2001:630:3c1:216:ca1f:66ff:febe:ee5

FAQ

Desktop Environment
The remote desktop service only supports the MATE desktop environment. To ensure a good quality of service, selecting an alternative desktop environment is not supported. The GNOME and KDE desktop environments both need a lot of resources and GNOME is known to not function correctly. However GNOME and KDE applications can still be run if wanted.
Copy/Paste Support
The standard copy/paste functionality (supported in most applications through menus or by using Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v, Ctrl-x) works as expected between remote and local environments. Users who are accustomed to the traditional Unix-style of highlighting text to copy and pasting by middle-button mouse click will find that this does NOT work. This is different behaviour from the previous NX service.
Screen resizing
The XRDP software (which provides the RDP connection to the local X server) does not support dynamically changing the screen resolution - it is necessary to disconnect and then reconnect. See this issue on the project github page for full details.
Audio
There is no support for forwarding audio from the remote session to the local client.
Keyboard mapping problem
You may well get a US keyboard layout when you login - meaning that characters such as £, ~, |, > are on the wrong keys or aren't present. If you have the wrong keyboard layout then the following command, when run in a terminal window in your RDP DICE session, should fix things: setxkbmap gb.
Login problems
The keyboard mapping problem (above) means that people with non-alphanumeric characters in their DICE password may not be able to login, because their keyboard isn't sending the symbols they expect. We're looking for a solution to this problem.
Why did we replace the old NX service?
Although NX would typically be more responsive, many applications did not behave correctly and would often crash. This particularly affected software which required 3D graphics support. There was also a shortage of well-supported client software for many platforms. We have chosen to use the RDP protocol for our new service as it is well supported on all mainstream platforms including Windows, macOS and Linux. The RDP session is connected to an X server using the xrdp software.
Last reviewed: 
11/10/2019

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