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Connect to Windows machine in AWS or any cloud from within MacOS, Linux


Overview

This is a tutorial on the different ways to “remote into” a Windows instance from a MacOS or Linux machine.

Windows machine to Windows machine

Every Microsoft Windows operating system instance can reach another Windows machine because all Windows operating systems come, within Start Programs > Accessories, a RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) client program that can be used without being an Administrator. It uses uses port 3389. The RDP is also known as “Terminal Services”.

Remote Desktop Connection

If you are running a Windows virtual instance (under VMWare Fusion), etc., Remote Desktop Connection is installed with by default on all Windows machines.

So you can click a file that opens the program. If you have a rdp file, click on it:

ec2-54-219-170-140.us-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com.rdp

This way you see the dialog filled in.

Alternately, open the program manually:

  1. Click the Windows “Start” icon button at the lower left corner (or wherever you moved it).
  2. Click the “Remote Desktop” icon on the Windows 10/2016 Desktop if it’s there:

    win10-desktop-rdp-196x196

    Alternately, type enough of Remote to see “Remote Desktop Connection” appear for you to click.

    win2016-icon-rdp-344x98

    Alternately, type mstsc to see “Remote Desktop Connection” appear for you to click.

    Either way:

  3. In the “Remote Desktop Connection” dialog, paste into the Computer Name: field the DNS name such as

    ec2-54-219-170-140.us-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com

  4. Click “Show Options” for a pop-up:

    win10-rdp-options-404x472-95923

  5. Type in User Name “Administrator” if you’re using an Amazon EC2 instance, since Amazon EC2 makes use of PEM files for security.

    Alternately, if you are working within an enterprise environment, you may need to add a network domain name in front of your assigned named, separated by a “backward slash”. This is because enterprises create for the same person different accounts for internal and external use.

  6. Click “Save”
  7. Click “Connect” to see a “Welcome” screen.
  8. Click “OK” on the Welcome screen.

    CAUTION: Remember to Log off, especially if you are sharing a machine with others.

Save rdp file from Amazon

Amazon’s instructions

  1. Click the “Connect” icon at the top of the Console.

    ec2-connect-to-instance-677x409-140476

  2. Click “Download Remote Desktop File” such as:

    ec2-54-219-170-140.us-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com.<strong>rdp</strong>

  3. Double-click on the file to open the RDP client.

    Back to the dialog:

  4. Click “Get Password”.
  5. Click “Browse…” and select Downloads, the .pem file downloaded earlier.
  6. Click “Decrypt Password”.
  7. Double-click on it to highlight it and press Ctrl+C to copy the string to your Windows Clipboard.
  8. Open a Notepad file and paste it there so you won’t lose it.
  9. Click “Close” to dismiss the dialog.

    RDP Client

  10. On Windows Explorer or MacOS Finder, double-click on the .rdp file saved earlier to invoke an RDP client program (if one is installed on Mac, see below).
  11. On the RDP client, click on the Password input field and paste the Clipboard contents.
  12. Leave the Domain blank and click OK to connect.

  13. Click View Instances.
  14. Scroll down to copy the IPv4 Public IP such as 54.219.170.140

Other operating systems

On other operating systems (such as MacOS or Linux), if you have no administrative rights on your corporate Windows laptop, spin up cloud instances in the cloud and access them via a client that uses RDP.

RDP clients on Linux

On Linux machines, there is RDesktop at http://www.rdesktop.org

RDP clients on MacOS

Microsoft’s DOC

On the Mac, these RDP clients can reach into instances of Amazon EC2 or other cloud that house Windows servers.

A) Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client Connection 2.1.1 for Macintosh is gone

B) Microsoft Remote Desktop from Apple AppStore

C) Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac from HockeyApp

D) Vagrant RDP

E) Chrome RDP Add-on is no longer supported?

F) CoRD from Sourceforge is obsolete


Microsoft Remote Desktop Client gone

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client Connection 2.1.1 for Macintosh (installer RDC_2.1.1_ALL.dmg at 9.4 MB) is no longer available for download from here http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads.

rdc1-597x257-62797

Image credit: https://hpc.nrel.gov/users/systems/winhpc/getting-started

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop for Mac OSX from Apple

  1. Click this link at the Apple Store.

    rd-mac-650x319-67997

    NOTE: This is newer than the edition that comes with Microsoft Office for Mac 2011.

  2. Click the blue “View in Mac App Store”.
  3. Within the Mac AppStore app, click Get.
  4. Click Install.
  5. Click Open.

  6. Click + New

BLAH: This UI version is difficult because there are no favorites or sorting by last use, aliases, etc. (that I know of). I now have to scroll down the list every time, and remembering which of many cryptic names I want, which is difficult if you have a lot of servers on the list.

NOTE: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/quickstart/latest/rd-gateway/welcome.html Quick Start for Remote Desktop Gateway that explains how to configure RDGW in detail

Microsoft HockeyApp Remote Desktop for Mac

This enables you to run the most powerful of servers from a ChromeBook laptop with minimal RAM and hard disk.

Within Chrome browser, install the $7.99 Chrome browser app.

  1. Click this link to the
    Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac webpage
    , which is part of the HockeyApp.net used by Xamarin developers for Crash Reporting, User Feedback, User Metrics and In-App Updates.

    CAUTION: This is in Beta as of August 30, 2017. The history shows weekly builds.

  2. Click “Download” of file
    Microsoft_Remote_Desktop_Beta.app.zip (20.4 MB).
  3. In Finder, navigate to Downloads to double-click on that zip file to unzip it.
  4. Scroll to “Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta”.
  5. Double-click on that to invoke it.

    rdp-beta-get-started-452x413-111481

  6. Click “Get Started”.
  7. In the Quick Connect dialog, click on the white field and press Ctrl+V to paste the EC2 DNS Address.

    First time

  8. Click “Connect”.
  9. Copy the password from where you saved earlier.
  10. Click on Password field. Press Ctrl+V to paste it.
  11. Click “Continue” to get see the Windows start-up screen.
  12. Click on the icon (in case you have several instances). You should now see a desktop.

    Success!

  13. In Finder’s Devices left pane under, click the eject button for the “Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta” installer.
  14. In Finder, drag the “Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta” from within Downloads to drop on the Applications folder.
  15. If you are using the program often, drag the “Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta” from within Applications to drop on the Task Bar so that it is visually avaiable.

  16. Click the red “Add desktop” icon.
  17. For User Account, select “Administrator” because that’s what Amazon does.
  18. For PC Name, paste the name such as “ec2-54-219-170-140.us-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com”.
  19. Click “Save”.

Vagrant RDP

If you are getting into a Vagrant instance containing Windows:

VIDEO:

  1. Set the communicator and network ports in your Vagrantfile, such as:

      config.vm.communicator = "winrm"
      config.vm.network "forwarded_port", host:3389, guest: 3389
    
  2. On a Terminal:

    vagrand rdp

Chrome Add-on

  1. If you don’t have a Chrome browser, from the default Internet Explorer, install a Chrome browser.

  2. Open a Chrome browser to this site.

    PROTIP: The fusionlabs.net web page does not use https. Use http://www.fusionlabs.net (the https on this doesn’t resolve).

    rdpsupport@fusionlabs.net or 214.739.5454

  3. Click the green “Launch App” button at the upper-right.
  4. Highlight the DNS address (such as “ec2-52-53-218-39.us-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com”) and press Ctrl+C to copy it into your Windows Clipboard.
  5. Click on the blank field and press Ctrl+V to paste.
  6. For Domain:
  7. For UserName:
  8. For Password:

CoRD on Sourceforge

CoRD on Sourceforge, which is for Mac OS X 10.5—10.8 (obsoleted when 10.12 Sierra is out).

CoRD_0.5.7.zip is 3.4 MB

After running this, drag it into your Applications folder.

To add a new server, click on the menu File.

More on OSX

This is one of a series on Mac OSX: