VRDP – VirtualBox Remote Desktop Protocol

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VirtualBox, the graphical user interface, has a built-in server for the VirtualBox Remote Desktop Protocol (VRDP). This allows you to see the output of a virtual machine’s window remotely on any other computer and control the virtual machine from there,as if it was running on the remote machine.

VRDP is a backwards-compatible extension to Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Typically graphics updates and audio are sent from the remote machine to the client, while keyboard and mouse events are sent back.

You can use any standard RDP viewer, such as the one that comes with Microsoft Windows (typically found under “Accessories” -> “Communication” -> “Remote Desktop Connection”) or, on Linux system, the standard open-source rdesktop program
to connect to the virtual machine remotely.

You should use the IP address of your host system as the server address. The VRDP server uses the standard RDP TCP port 3389 by default. The port can be changed either in the GUI VM settings or with VBoxManage modifyvm command -vrdpport
option. Note that only one machine can use a given port at a time. Also on Windows hosts the default RDP port (3389) could be already used by the Windows RDP server,in this case you should choose another port for your VM(s).

With VirtualBox, the graphical user interface, the VRDP server is disabled by default, but can easily be enabled on a per-VM basis either with the VirtualBox GUI or with VBoxManage

VBoxManage modifyvm <vmname> -vrdp on

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20 Responses

  1. Vadi says:

    Very nice.

  2. mashcaster says:

    How about some step by step instructions?

  3. Abdullah says:

    How do you control the access to the virtual machine?

  4. KenBW2 says:

    What’s with the recent interest in VBox?

  5. mashcaster says:

    >> KenBW2 Says: What’s with the recent interest in VBox?

    Visualization is becoming easier, so more people are interested in it.

  6. dlynch says:

    Has anyone tried to use vrdp to connect to a linux vm? When I do I get 2 mouse pointers. One is from the machine that I’m rdping from and the other is from the ubuntu vm.

    Does anyone know how to resolve this so that when the rdesktop window is selected, there is only one mouse pointer?


  7. Not My Real Name says:

    Dlynch – install the Guest Additions, that should take care of the double pointer problem.

  8. jude says:

    I can not get this to work for the life of me. I am using 8.04 and VB 1.5.6. I have remote display enabled in the settings for the client. I have the port set to an alternate port (both in the settings for the client and for the XP machine. I opened the port on the ubuntu machine. Any help would be appreciated!

    PS – Love the blog! Keep it up!

  9. Rico says:

    I have the same problem. Guest Addon is installed but doesn’t help.
    Host & Guest OS: OpenSuSE 11.1 (64bit)
    Trying to access the headless vm from another machine with dual monitors (don’t know if this is causing the problem)

  10. jordanwb says:

    Okay then what? I’m trying to connect to it via Terminal Server Client in Gnome and it can’t connect.

  11. Juan says:

    Guest Additions resolved my problem with 2 mouse pointers.
    Host: Ubuntu 8.04 LTS + Virtual Box 3.0.10 r54097

  12. free says:

    Make sure you install KPMS before Additions as I had the double mouse pointer.

  13. abject says:


    What’s “KPMS”?

  14. Dimitre says:

    >> KenBW2 Says: What’s with the recent interest in VBox?
    Check out the bloated, slow, buggy and disfunctional POS that VMWare server has become as of 2.x and yall know… I am a forced convert myself…

  15. Ian says:

    What version of Vbox is required for RDP? I have 3.04 and there is no remote option in the GUI settings for the virtual machine. In screen shots I’ve seen it is right below “Shared Folders” but in mine “Shared Folders” is the last item in the list.

  16. remote says:

    in my 3.1.6 it’s in the Settings under the Display section (left-side navbar) – there’s 2 tabs in there, Video and Remote Display. Obviously the latter is where the setting is located 🙂

  17. dave says:

    VirtualBox 3.1.8 is out. Works well on my Snow Leopard iMac.

  18. Wamiduku says:

    What’s KPMS that’s mentioned above?

  19. Steve says:

    Anyone thinking of using this shoul note that when I tried this a couple of months ago, it was not supported in the open-source branch of virtualbox

  20. Marco says:

    Thank you!!!

    I was trying to accomplish this for days. This is the only post telling me that I have to connect to the HOST’s IP (which makes sense, if I think about it).

    Thanks a lot for the clarification.

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