Remote access Kali 2017 desktop

Jimmy Larsson, CISSP, CEH
Jimmy Larsson, CISSP, CEH used Ask the Experts™
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I have a lab environment based on vmware ESXi. Part of that is a number of virtual Kali 2017.2 machines that needs to be remotely accessible. Users on internet must be able to access the console GUI of the Kali, the desktop. Security is not an issue since they will use VPN.

I have tried using the built-in tightvncserver but whenever I connect the VM will freeze. I have reinstalled Kali numeous of times but it´s still the same issue. Probably something inside of the Kali distribution and/or my vmware environment that behaves strangely...

I have also tried installing xrdp but it seems not to be available for Kali 2017.2. Also, when reading about it I see that it depends on the same tightvncserver and I don´t think that´s the solution for me.

What other options do I have? I want inbound connection from the clients, which means that all cloud based solutions like Teamviewer is out of the question.

vmware has its built-in remote console application that can be used from vcenter web frontend but it requires both installation of the client software as well as flash in order to work properly so I have ruled that out aswell.

What other options do I have?
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Shehbaz AkbarIT Infrastructure Engineer

Commented:
Sounds like an issue with your VMWare environment. Have you installed VMware tools on the Kali Linux? You can try Oracle VM Virtual Box and install your Kali Linux on this and then setup for VNC.
Jimmy Larsson, CISSP, CEHNetwork and Security consultant

Author

Commented:
Yes, Kali has vmware tools installed. Kali works great in both Virtual Box and Vmware fusion.

My main question is: what other remote control solutions can I try?
Shehbaz AkbarIT Infrastructure Engineer

Commented:
You have ruled out any cloud based apps. As a workaround spin up a virtual desktop with VMware client etc. RDP to the desktop and connect to Kali Linux.
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Shehbaz AkbarIT Infrastructure Engineer

Commented:
Also forgot to mention you can run GUI apps through SSH X11 forwarding.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
To determine why your VM is freezing, use...

multitail /var/log/kern.log /var/log/syslog

Open in new window


in a large window, then initiate your connection.

You can also run this command to see if some other log is getting hit, just before your VM hangs...

inotifywait -mrq /var/log

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As for other remote connection options, as Shehbaz suggested, SSH X11 is the most common way to remotely connect.

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