Connecting To The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

This page covers connecting to a EECS Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Windows 10 remote desktops.

If you are off campus, you will first need to connect to the UTK VPN before you can connect to your desktop. OIT has a a software download and instructions for setting up the VPN on their website.

On Microsoft Windows systems, VID connections use the built-in Remote Desktop Connection program. Unlike a typical Remote Desktop Connection, you do not open the Remote Desktop Connection app prior to connecting to our VDI.

On MacOS, download the Microsoft Remote Desktop app from the Apple App Store before attempting to connect to the VDI.
NOTE: You must be connected to the UTK VPN if you are off-campus.

  1. Open a web browser and go to, then enter UTK\netid and your password.
  2. You will be presented with a list of pooled systems available for your use. Click on the pool you'd like to use.
  3. There will be a Remote Desktop Connection file that downloads.
  4. Once you open the file, prompted to enter your login credentials. Use UTK\netid as before. If you are using a Windows system on campus, you may only be prompted for your password.
    Windows login shown on the left, MacOS on the right.
  5. Once you successfully enter your password, you will then be connected to a virtual desktop.
  6. When you're ready to disconnect from your session, you will need to Sign Out.

You can re-use the downloaded RDP file for future connections to the VDI.

Connections to the EECS Virtual Desktop Infrastructure use the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). A number of RDP implementations exist for Linux. These instructions use FreeRDP which is available on all EECS IT-supported Linux desktops and virtual lab systems. It should also be available for easy install on most common Linux distributions. Check your Linux package manager for more information.

  1. Follow instructions 1 through 3 for Windows/MacOS access to download a connection file. You should now have downloaded a connection file with a name like cpub-EECS_VDI_Lab-EECS_VDI_Lab-CmsTempVm.rdp. Please note that this may be in a “Downloads” directory.
  2. Use the xfreerdp command to connect to the VDI using the downloaded file as the first argument. For ease of connectivity, we recommend adding two command-line options.
    1. /log-level:ERROR or /log-level:OFF (for minimum feedback)
    2. /u:UTK\\netid (where netid is your UTK NetID. Note the double backslash.)
  3. You will have to accept the offered certificate. Example session:
    jruser:com1824 ~> xfreerdp Downloads/cpub-EECS_VDI_Lab-EECS_VDI_Lab-CmsTempVm.rdp /log-level:OFF /u:UTK\\jruser
    Certificate details for (RDP-Redirect):
    	Common Name:
    	Subject:     CN =
    	Issuer:      CN =
    	Thumbprint:  b7:ef:90:5d:70:85:cf:3e:a6:e4:a2:19:21:68:f8:00:36:82:b0:a2:b4:0e:4f:47:13:39:f7:64:f8:9c:9e:40
    The above X.509 certificate could not be verified, possibly because you do not have
    the CA certificate in your certificate store, or the certificate has expired.
    Please look at the OpenSSL documentation on how to add a private CA to the store.
    Do you trust the above certificate? (Y/T/N) Y

The RDP connection file contains a number of options, some of which you may want to change (e.g. turning off multi-monitor support). Check the Microsoft documentation on RDP files for more information on the various settings.

FreeRDP has many command-line options to customize your session. Read the manual page or online documentation for all available settings. Some useful options you may want to add:

  • /size:WIDTHxHEIGHT or /size:percent% – Set the screen size for the remote desktop window, for example /szie:75%. Please note that the remote desktop window may still start in full-screen mode. Hit CTRL-ALT-ENTER to go to a windowed mode.
  • /dynamic-resolution – This option will allow you to resize the RDP window and have the remote system update its resolution accordingly. (May cause video distortions on older systems)
  • /drive:name,/path – Redirects a local path on your Linux system as a drive on the remote server. Set name to the name of the drive and /path to the Linux path. Examples:
    • /drive:home,/home/netid – (replace netid with your UTK NetID) Redirects your home directory as a drive in the remote Windows server:
    • /drive:scratch,/local_scratch – redirect the local scratch directory on an EECS Linux desktop to the VDI.

File storage is only permitted within your profile (e.g., My Documents, Desktop, etc…), and OneDrive. These VDI connections will revert to a prior state; therefore, anything that was stored elsewhere will be lost. Please note that locally stored data is not backed-up, so be sure to make your own backups. You can connect to Microsoft OneDrive from within the VDI desktops.

I get an "Unable to connect" error with error code 0x204

Unfortunately, the Microsoft Remote Desktop client for MacOS has a number of bugs. If you receive an error like the one below when connecting to the VDI, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take.

Unable to connect

Try: Remove Temporary Folder

Try deleting the temporary/cache folder created by the Microsoft Remote Desktop application. The folder's system path is: ~/Library/Group Containers/

  1. Make sure the Microsoft Remote Desktop application is not running.
  2. In the MacOS finder, hit ⌘-shift-g to open the “Go to Folder” dialog. Enter ~/Library/Group Containers
  3. Find the folder named and drag it to the Trash:

Try: Download beta version of Microsoft Remote Desktop

Microsoft publishes a beta version of their Remote Desktop application that often features bug fixes long before they make it into the mainstream version.

  1. Download the latest beta version from Microsoft App Center.
  2. Once downloaded, unzip the file and drag the “Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta” application into your Applications folder.
  3. Run this application and you can drag the RDP file into its window to save the connection.
  4. Double-click on the new connection.

  1. If you receive a message that no system is available when trying to connect, this is due to all desktops within that particular pool are currently in use. If you continually receive the same message after waiting several minutes, please contact our Help Desk.
  2. If you Disconnect your session, that session will be terminated after 2 hours. This will also cause you to lose any files that were not saved.