Tag Archives: Linux

RDP from Ubuntu into AWS Ubuntu

Simple way to get RDP into Ubuntu AWS box:

  • Create the instance in the EC2 Management console and enable incoming RDP in Security Groups
  • Create a new user with a password
  • Add the new user to the sudoers file and copy over the AWS server’s public key
  • Log in as the new user and install xrdp
  • Load Remmina on your local machine and open a new RDP connection


In EC2 Management Console, click on the instance you want to connect to and scroll the page to the right. There will be a URL link to the relevant Security Group configuration page. Click on the Inbound tab and then the Edit button. Add a new rule, look for RDP as the type and set anywhere as the source (or make it specific if you want).

Move to the Terminal on your local machine and login to your AWS server with a command similar to:

LocalMachine:$ ssh -i ~/AWS-keypair.pem ubuntu@ec2-some-id.amazonaws.com

Create new user e.g. george

AWSMachine:$ sudo adduser george

Follow the prompts to enter the password and other optional user information. Add the new user to the sudoers file using the visudo command:

AWSMachine:$ sudo visudo

Add the following line after the comment line, “User privilege specification” and save the file.

george   ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

Ensure that the user george is in the sudo groupusing:

AWSMachine:$ sudo adduser george sudo

The new user account cannot be accessed (e.g. via SSH) until the public key from the AWS instance’s key pair (the .pem file) is installed for the new user. To do this, copy the public key installed for the ubuntu user and paste it into the correct file in the new user account. The public key can be found in the file ~/.ssh/authorized_keys under the ubuntu account.

AWSMachine:$ cat ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

SThe command above will print the public key. Select everything apart from the name of the key pair at the end of the key and copy it.

Next, switch to the new user account, george, and make sure you are in the home directory.

AWSMachine:$ sudo su george

Create the SSH directory and authorised users file, with the correct permissions in the home directory. Then edit the authorized_keys file with a text editor.

AWSMachine@george:$ mkdir .ssh
AWSMachine@george:$ chmod 700 .ssh
AWSMachine@george:$ touch .ssh/authorized_keys
AWSMachine@george:$ chmod 600 .ssh/authorized_keys
AWSMachine@george:$ nano .ssh/authorized_keys

Paste in the public key you previously copied and save the file, before exiting the system.

AWSMachine@george:$ exit
AWSMachine:$ exit

You should now be able to log into the new user george on the remote Amazon AWS server using the same keypair. On your local machine, use the SSH command:

LocalMachine:$ ssh -i ~/AWS-keypair.pem george@ec2-some-id.amazonaws.com

We now are logged in as user george.

Install the lxde lightweight desktop manager and start it.

 sudo apt-get update 
 sudo apt-get install lxde
 sudo start lxdm

Also install xrdp to establish a remote desktop connection.

 sudo apt-get install xrdp

Remote desktop connections require a username and password. The username will be george and the password will be the one set when the user was created. If you forget this the password can be reset using:

 sudo passwd ubuntu
In Remmina, create a new connection and paste in the public DNS of the AWS box (ec2-some-id.amazonaws.com) into the Server box. Set the user as george, make sure the protocol is RDP and set the Colour Depth as True Colour 32-bit. Save and Connect.

None of this would be known without the notes and guidance from others on the web, namely:




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Ubuntu Unity

A couple of months ago I ran the usual

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

on my Ubuntu box and when I logged back in, there was no graphical user interface. Nothing. Not even a Ctrl-Alt-T into a terminal.

An internet search suggested it was a Compiz issue but nothing seemed to work. Until now! I thank Jonayad Rahman on the Ask Ubuntu forums for this fix:

Press Ctrl-Alt-F2 to call up a command-line. Log in with your usual credentials. You can then fix the compiz problem by removing the local config files:

sudo rm -fr ~/.cache/compizconfig-1
sudo rm -fr ~/.compiz

Then try this if your session still does not load:

sudo rm -fr ~/.Xauthority
sudo rm -fr ~/.config/autostart

Reinstall compiz:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall ubuntu-desktop unity compizconfig-settings-manager upstart

Reboot the machine and you should be able to log into Unity. Finally clear and restart the Unity Desktop by opening a terminal and typing:

sudo dconf reset -f /org/compiz/
setsid unity

So I have Unity back. More or less. I don’t seem to be able to right-click on the desktop and get a menu, and my wallpaper choices don’t seem to get saved, but it’s good to have some windows visible.

One thing I’ve discovered in the meantime is that I actually prefer the Gnome desktop!

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Search for last command of type…

If you need to find a previous command of a specific type e.g. mount

history | grep -i mount

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Dual boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu Mate

At the weekend I had to install Linux onto a new laptop. There are a couple of things that are probably worth knowing and sharing:

  • The laptop was a Lenovo 80g0 (see http://www.pcworldbusiness.co.uk/catalogue/item/P206816P). It’s not brilliant – plasticy feel (especially the keyboard) and an overly sensitive trackpad that gets in the way when typing, but it was in the price bracket for the people who wanted it and it does the job of getting them on the web.
  • It was supplied with Win 8.1 and I thought I would take the opportunity to update it to Win 10 as that is what Microsoft are after us doing. The download alone took about 4 hours on a not-that-great internet connection, and then the install took another hour or so. I looked at Windows 10 for about 20 minutes. It’s not something I think I’ll ever use but it seems to be easier to pick up than Windows 8.1. Other than that it’s Windows – others will know more and post more than me on that topic.
  • I downloaded the Ubuntu Mate iso in about 50 minutes. I booted into the live distro via USB to make sure everything was working. A couple of things here – to get to the BIOS/EFI interface to change the boot order I had to boot to Windows and disable Fast Startup (http://www.ehow.com/how_6803950_lenovo-bios.html). Then I restarted whilst pressing down the ‘Shift’ key – I think I went to Advanced and then boot to BIOS or something similar. Anyway, it gives some options – poke about and find the restart one. When it booted into Ubuntu the first thing that was evident was that the wireless didn’t work. I used ‘rfkill list‘ to see that there was a hardware block on the wireless card. So I then used ‘sudo modprobe -r ideapad_laptop‘  which fixed that problem. Time will tell if removing that module was a good idea or not – but it fixed the problem with the wireless.
  • The next thing to do was try to dual boot Win 10 and Ubuntu. I repartitioned the disk and then followed the instructions here (http://www.tweaking4all.com/os-tips-and-tricks/uefi-dual-boot-windows81-ubuntu/) which did the job perfectly.

Overall the biggest faff was doing the upgrade to Windows 10. The wireless issue was a bit of a surprise but was easily overcome and the instructions for the dual boot were comprehensive and easy to follow if you know what you’re doing.

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Intro to Linux

Larry Bushey has provided a very useful introduction to Linux over at the Going Linux podcast. I recommend that you share this link (http://goinglinux.com/shownotes.html#glp279) to any friends, family or colleagues who are considering Linux or just want to move away from Windows or Mac.