10 minutes to run every Windows app on your Ubuntu desktop

July 5, 2007 at 4:03 am | Posted in Ubuntu, Windows | Leave a comment

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This simple guide will bring up the Windows start menu inside GNOME and allow you to run, use and install any Windows app (that can run in a VM) inside your existing desktop. It takes about 10 minutes to setup, minus the time to install Windows, and involves one command in total.

Update: If you’ve been having trouble getting this working, make sure they key is correct – our fixed width site layout chopped the last part of the registry key earlier. Note this requires Windows XP Pro. XP home won’t do.

This is a newer version of a rather popular article I wrote a while ago. This updated version is a lot simpler and allows multiple apps to be run.
Click System → Administration → Synaptic Package Manager. Install the vmware-server and rdesktop packages

Click Applications → System Tools → VMware Server Console

When VMware Server Console starts, click Connect to attach to your local machine. Then Create a New Virtual Machine. Use all the defaults, but pick NAT networking. Pop in your Windows CD, and install Windows

Once Windows has started:

Enable Terminal Services by clicking Start → Control Panel → System. Click the Remote tab, and enable Allow users to connect remotely to this computer

Turn off the desktop for the user you’ll use to run your Windows apps, by clicking Start → Run typing regedit and selecting HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Policies/Explorer. Create a DWORD called NoDesktop set to 1.

Note the IP address of Windows. Clicking Start → Connect to → Show All Connections. Select the Local Area Connection and hit the Support tab
Download SeamlessRDP, then extract it to C:\seamlessrdp

Log out of Windows, and close VMware Server Console (leave the VM running)

Back in Ubuntu, open a Terminal, and run:

rdesktop -A -s ‘c:\seamlessrdp\seamlessrdpshell.exe c:\windows\explorer.exe’ IPAddress -u user -p password
substituting the IP address you noted earlier.

The top of the Windows taskbar should appear above your GNOME panel on the bottom of the screen. Right click it, select Properties, and disable Lock the Taskbar. Then drag the taskbar to the left hand side of your screen.

That’s it. You can now run launch any Windows app you want from your VM (and install more if you need them). They’ll appear on the GNOME desktop, and you can switch between them from the panel.

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