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Remote Desktop Service

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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.)

How to use it

Here's how to use the Remote Desktop service on popular platforms:

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. These can be run 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 a few software packages are not available.

Host Information

We provide two XRDP services. 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 hammersmith.inf.ed.ac.uk
IP(v4) address 129.215.202.146
IP(v6) address 2001:630:3c1:202:d6ae:52ff:fe98:a47d

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. We're working on this.
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: 
30/08/2018

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