Setting up RDP with Xfce

Kali Linux is supported on many different devices and systems. On some of those systems, you may only get a bare-bones install and occasionally may not have direct access to a GUI such as with WSL or Docker. One simple way to get access to a GUI for Kali is by installing Xfce and setting up RDP. This can be done either manually or with the script provided here, and can be seen below:

echo "[i] Updating and upgrading Kali (this will take a while)"
apt-get update
apt-get full-upgrade -y

echo "[i] Installing Xfce4 & xrdp (this will take a while as well)"
apt-get install -y kali-desktop-xfce xorg xrdp

echo "[i] Configuring xrdp to listen to port 3390 (but not starting the service)"
sed -i 's/port=3389/port=3390/g' /etc/xrdp/xrdp.ini

Before we can start the process of setting up Xfce and RDP, we must first acknowledge some differences with certain systems Kali is on. The first is Docker. To use this setup with Docker, we must supply a launch command like the following:

docker run -p 3390:3390 --expose=3390 --tty --interactive kalilinux/kali-rolling /bin/bash

For additional usage on Docker, such as how to resume an exited container, please read using Kali Docker images.

For AWS, we must be sure to allow our IP to access the proper ports when we set up the machine.

To use the script we do the following:

# If on Docker, run the following command first before continuing:
root@182156129:/$ apt update && DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt install -y wget kali-linux-headless

kali@kali:~$ wget
kali@kali:~$ chmod +x
kali@kali:~$ sudo ./

Setting this up manually will provide more control over what configuration is done, but also will take a bit longer.

If you are using WSL, dbus-x11 needs to be installed next for xrdp and xfce to connect:

kali@kali:~$ sudo apt install -y dbus-x11

After you set up Xfce and RDP, you need to start the service:

# If on AWS
kali@kali:~$ sudo systemctl enable xrdp --now

# If on WSL or Docker
kali@kali:~$ sudo /etc/init.d/xrdp start

In the case of AWS, you will need to change the password to the default ‘kali’ account before connecting. This can be done with the following command:

kali@kali:~$ echo kali:kali | sudo chpasswd

If you are using Docker, you will need to create a new user. You can do this with adduser

kali@kali:~$ adduser kali

You can then connect with a RDP client to that system. Keep in mind the port that is being used. If you used the script, the port would be 3390. In the case of WSL and Docker, the IP would be that you would wish to connect to from your windows system (or the host systems IP from a separate computer). In the case of AWS, the IP would be the same as you use to connect via SSH.

You may encounter the error Authentication Required to Create Managed Color Device when trying to connect. Do the following to fix this issue.

kali@kali:~$ cat <<EOF | sudo tee /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/45-allow-colord.pkla
[Allow Colord all Users]

Updated on: 2023-Jun-16
Author: gamb1t