Remote Access to Linux Systems

There are several ways you can remotely access the departmental Linux systems (which include various compute systems and desktops).

Remote Access Portal

The easiest way to get a full remote Linux session (on one of the departmental compute systems) is to use the remote access portal (RAP). Using a web browser:

  • Resize the browser window to the desktop size you would like for your remote session. [Any resizing of the browser window done after connection will only rescale what you see and not provide more remote desktop area]
  • Visit the remote access portal
  • Login with your usual departmental IT account details
  • Select the machine you wish to connect to from the list that appears
  • In the session login window that appears, login with your usual departmental IT account details

A full graphical session (as you would get on a Linux desktop etc) will now appear within the browser window.

When finished remember to use the session logout button to end the session and then close the browser/browser tab.

If you do not logout of the remote session and simply close the browser window, then the session will continue to run on the server and you can reconnect to it when desired simply by revisiting RAP and choosing the same machine.

Sometimes you may find a password you are confident is correct is not working at the Linux or Windows session login. If that happens then there are several things you can try/check:

  • make sure you are entering your username in lowercase only!
  • use SHIFT not CAPS-LOCK where needed in the password as some people have experienced problems with CAPS-LOCK failing to be transmitted and thus the password failing to be entered correctly
  • type more slowly as some people have found keypresses are missed or mixed up when typed quickly
  • think about characters that may be in a different place on a US keyboard as some people find the login screen defaults to a US key layout


X2Go is an implementation of the NX protocol (which we formerly used with FreeNX and nxclient).

Note if you use this to remotely connect to a departmental desktop then you may need to wake the desktop first.

Client installation

To use X2Go you firstly need to install the x2goclient (this is installed by default on departmental desktops and laptops from July 2016) for your particular operating system.

Client configuration

Having installed the client you need to first configure it:

X2Go Session Configuration

  • Start the x2goclient
  • Select Session -> New Session
  • In the dialog that appears set:
    • Session name: e.g. Connection to Maths
    • Host: name of the machines machine you will connect to, e.g.
    • Login: your maths IT account user name
    • Session type: GNOME
  • In the Settings tab you may want to define a custom display size (i.e. how big the window should be for the desktop session)
  • If you are not connecting from a machine on the maths network (either the departmental desktops or the MATHS wifi), then also enter ssh proxy settings:
    • Use proxy server for ssh connection: tick this box to reveal further settings
    • Same login as on X2Go Server: tick this box
    • Same password as on X2Go Server: tick this box
    • Host:
  • Now click ok to save these session settings

You can now use this defined session to start a connection. It may ask you to accept the ssh key fingerprint for gate.

If when you connect the window that appears drop back to the an incorrect resolution (often 800x600 or 1920x1080) regardless of what you set in the Settings -> Display -> Custom setting. It may also then produce a display resolution warning message. If this occurs you can 'fix' it as follows:

  • From the top panel menu select Applications -> System Tools -> System Settings
  • In the window that appears select Screen Display
  • From the resolution setting, find and select your custom resolution
  • The window should now resize appropriately and it should remember this setting for future x2go sessions

If you find the mouse cursor does not show when you initially connect then there are several ways to workaround or fix this:

  1. Disconnect (i.e. close the window rather than use the logout button) and reconnect; the mouse should be visible now
  2. Run the command
        gsettings get org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.cursor active
    if it reports this setting is true/1 then you can turn it off for this session alone with the command
        gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.cursor active false
    this should cause the mouse cursor to appear
  3. If 2 above works you can make this setting permanent by starting dconf-editor, finding this setting, and changing it to false

When finished remember to use the session logout button to end the session.

If you do not logout of the remote session and simply close the x2go window, then the session will continue to run on the server and you can reconnect to it when desired simply by using the same session starter within the x2go client.

Text only session

If you just want a text terminal session you can connect via ssh to the machine (see the ssh key fingerprints page as it may prompt to accept the key). Note gate is intended as a gateway into the system and does not have much local software. You may thus wish to ssh from there to a particular compute or desktop machine. You can combine this with GNU screen to allow you to disconnect and reconnect to a running text session.