Taz via Remote Desktop

The idea is to tnnel through secure shell to get access to the firewall-protected port specific to the remote desktop service.

In Fall 2017 the student Linux (taz) server was having problems with the number of students using this service. If you have problems, fall back on the x2Go access.

Forward a local port

You need to choose an unused local port on your machine greater than 1024; almost any number you choose will do. For definiteness sake, we will use the port number:


The PuTTy shell client offers an easy-to-use solution once you have it set up. See information about downloading PuTTy here:
An alternative is using the Cygwin shell, in which case, setting up the tunnel should be like the MAC description below.

Tunnel setup with PuTTy

It is possible that Windows will make you confirm the usage of this port as administrator.

PuTTy is "portable executable" which needs no installation. Double-click to run it and follow these steps:
  1. Type taz.cs.wcupa.edu into the Host Name field
  2. Type taz in the Saved Sessions field and click Save
  3. Go to Connection → SSH → Tunnels
  4. Enter 1234 in the Source port field
  5. Enter localhost:3389 in the Destination field
  6. Click the Add button. It should create an entry:

    L1234   localhost:3389
  7. Go back to the Session and click Save. The tunnel is set up.
  8. Click Open.
  9. Log into taz using your account information. The tunnel is now active.
With this done, the only steps necessary to "Activate the Tunnel" in the future are:

Remote Desktop Usage

Access Remote Desktop on your client machine. When you open it, enter this information:

User name: None specified.

You will have to log in again using your account information. This time you are logging into a different service called Xvnc.

LXDE Window manager

There is a flaw in the MATE window manager which makes it misbehave very badly when used with RDP, so we have to use another. I have chosen LXDE, a lightweight Desktop which, although flawed, should get the job done for limited remote usage.

One flaw is that you cannot log out, you just have to shut down the Remote Desktop session. Fortunately, other features like Shutdown, Reboot do not work either.


Install MicroSoft Remote Desktop on your MAC for free. The MAC RDP is a bit more quirky, but it should still succeed. You also must terminate the RDP session to get off.

Shell-based Tunnel

This approach works so long as you have a UNIX-like shell and your system runs ssh. So it is suitable for MAC, linux, Windows/Cygwin with ssh installed.

To create the tunnel, edit or create the file ~/.ssh/config, adding this content (change YOUR_TAZ_LOGIN to your taz login)

Host tazRDP
  Hostname taz.cs.wcupa.edu
  LocalForward 1234 localhost:3389
The "localhost" usage refers to the host after you've logged into taz, i.e. taz itself; so you're forwarding port 1234 on your local system to 3389 on taz.

Activate the tunnel from a Terminal shell by logging into taz in this way:
$ ssh tazRDP
Give your taz password for the password prompt and leave the shell open throughout the remote desktop session.

© Robert M. Kline