Remote desktop for Raspberry Pi

Avid readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of the RISCOS pi operating system for Raspberry Pi. I mainly use it for the nostalgia factor, however I also keep a set of note on it in addition to some programming.

I also have a need for the Linux distribution as well.  I currently regularly use Raspbian flavour of Linux for the following tasks:

These are all jobs that I want to have running permanently, however it started to annoy me that I had to quit Raspbian in order for the device to boot into RISCOS.  The solution was to get a second Raspberry Pi 2 to use as a dedicated RISCOS Pi and leave the first device for uninterrupted Linux stuff! This caused it's own problems, of course, as I only have room for one monitor, one keyboard and one mouse. Swapping the devices over when I wanted to quickly check on something on the server was becoming irritating and so the obvious solution is to install a remote desktop.

If you were not aware, a remote desktop allows you to run one computer from another computer. You literally see the desktop of one computer in a window on a second machine. This is incredibly useful for doing things with Raspberry Pi wherever the use of keyboards, mice and monitors are a problem. For example, you might want to put the Raspberry Pi in a remote location in your house or garden to monitor temperature, or take photos as aliens pass over your roof. Maybe you want to set the machine up as a burglar detection and capture system. Maybe your Raspberry Pi is the central brain of your doomsday machine or robot butler and having a monitor and keyboard attached is just soooo nineteen nineties. Either way, controlling your Pi from another computer or tablet is really cool.

Your choice of software for performing a remote desktop depends on your current distribution of Raspbian: you could try xrdp, or VNC.


I have used xrdp on a number of Pi devices at both work and at home. These instructions should work if your device was installed before 2017.

1. First install the xrdp software onto your Pi. Navigate to the terminal and type: sudo apt-get install xrdp
2. Follow any on-screen instructions.
3. Once completed restart your device with sudo restart
4. You will need the IP address of your device on your home network. If you don't know it you should be able to find it from either your home router's admin page, or type the command: ifconfig You are looking for a line that reads something like: inet addr:

5. Once you are happy that xrdp is ready for your Raspberry Pi you should be able to connect from your second computer.  In Windows 10 select Cortana and type "Remote Desktop". This should launch a program called "Remote Desktop Connection".

Finding the Remote Desktop in Windows 10. For earlier versions of Windows, it will be found in your Start > All programs > Accessories folder.

6. Type in the IP address of your Raspberry Pi from part 4 (for example, mine is
7. Enter your username and password. You should now find that you can now see your Raspberry Pi desktop.

Enter your username and password at the prompt. If you haven't changed them already, then your username should be 'pi' and the password is 'raspberry'

If you get connection problems, then you probably need to follow the steps for VNC below.


1. Navigate to your Terminal in Raspbian and type: sudo raspi-config
2. A menu should appear. Find “Interfacing Options” and make sure that VNC is enabled.
3. Reboot the Raspberry Pi.
4. Whilst your Pi is rebooting you can install the VNC Viewer client software on your second computer. I downloaded the portable version from the RealVNC website for Windows, however other versions are available for other machines.
5. Once you have this client running you should be able to enter your IP address and connect.

If everything has gone to plan then you should be seeing your Raspberry Pi desktop on your other computer. Very handy for controlling your computer from another room.

Another really good feature is that VNC will allow you to transfer files from your computer onto the Raspberry Pi. To do this, first click on the icon in the top left corner. Then select "File Transfer" from the menu. I use this to maintain various files on my home server. For example I have a set of notes written using Zim. These notes are written on my PC and keep track of various things that are useful for both RISCOS and Raspbian (such as all the instructions on this blog article). As soon as I learn something new about the Raspberry Pi, I make a note of how I did it and then upload it to the server. As they are kept on my server I can access them from any of the machines on my home network, including the RISCOS device. Very handy indeed!