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EC2 WinTwin 10

TLC’s WinTwin 10 is a very good imitation look and feel of the Microsoft Windows 10 Desktop.  WinTwin 10 is built on Linux Mint 20.2 (Uma), which is a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system featuring the Cinnamon Desktop.  Built with TLC’s customized Active Directory Join app, and optimized Windows icons, background and controls, along with XRDP integrated RDP session handler, this is a state-of-the-art remote workstation solution for (optionally) joining centralized Active Domain controllers and giving users and admins a familiar Windows desktop look and feel.  The theme can always be changed, but this is a great professional look and feel to start with.  You can access from just about any PC, Phone or Tablet!  MS Windows clients can use the Remote Desktop application.  Android, iPhone and Applle Mac user can download a choice of free or paid-for RDP clients!  On Android, we recommend Microsoft’s free RDP client, but just about any RDP client should work.

Designed to work well with lower cost t3a small and medium EC2 instance types, if you keep the number of simultaneously open applications small you will not sacrifice much performance compared to large or xlarge types.  If you want to keep a lot of applications open an running, then a large size makes sense. Based on Debian and Ubuntu, it provides about 30,000 packages and has one of the best software managers. This is version Linux Mint 20.2 (code named Uma) which includes Libra Office, FireFox, and much, much more.

The wintwin xrdp defaults can be easily over-written when auto-updating, this may unset the default behavior of the original AMI before it comes up the first time.  To ensure the WinTwin desktop starts for all xrdp sessions, see instructions further down on this page.


1.  Launch your AMI and ensure you enable Public IP address

2.  Wait until your server fully boots

3.  Note the Public IP address assigned to your instance AND your instance ID

4.  On Windows: Search for Program or File–> Type in the words ‘Remote Desktop’ and press enter

5. Select the Remote Desktop Connection application in the search results

6. In the window that opens, enter the IP address noted in Step 3, press ‘Connect’ Button

7 The next screen will warn “The identity of the remote computer connection cannot be verified’ — click the ‘Yes’ button to continue

8.  Leave the first box as-is, it should say ‘Xorg’; in the box below called username, type in ec2-user; in the box below that called password, enter the instance ID as noted in Step 3 above; press OK button – it may remain blue momentarily then will turn black.

9.  THE SCREEN WILL REMAIN BLACK OR BLUE FOR SEVERAL MINUTES!!!  This is the time it takes for the ec2-user desktop to be created, icons and fonts to be copied, and various settings made before your session can begin.  PLEASE BE PATIENT!

10. When finished DO NOT LOGOUT OF THE MINT DESK TOP SESSION.  Instead, simply disconnect your RDP client. As long as you do not shut-down your instance or restart the Mint desktop, the next time you return to your RDP session and log into the Xrdp log in screen, it will take you to your previous Desktop session instantly, no more black screens or waiting!  You may want to change the ec2-user password and also create a password for the root user so you can update system software via GUI, etc.  Just make sure passwords are complicated!

As mentioned in the description at the start of this page, the pretty WinTwin desktop you were expecting may fail to appear, but is easily remedied.  Once logged in, you might be in a generic XFCE4 session, not the WinTwin’s Cinnamon session.  If you are not in Cinnamon, right-click on your desktop to start a Terminal.  In the terminal window, use sudo and edit /etc/xrdp/startwm.sh eg:

sudo vi /etc/xrdp/startwm.sh

At the bottom of the file, replace this:

text -x /etc/X11/Xsession && exec /etc/X11/Xsession

exec /bin/sh /etc/X11/Xsession

With this:

# text -x /etc/X11/Xsession && exec /etc/X11/Xsession

exec /bin/sh /usr/bin/cinnamon-session-cinnamon

Save the file, no need to restart the xrdp service. Just log out of your current desktop session and exit the RDP client session (disconnecting the RDP client alone may not be enough). Re-connect via RDP and sign in again, you should now launch Cinnamon, which will, in turn, give you the WinTwin 10 desktop.