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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. This is NOT ideal for gaming.

Note: If you’ve been having trouble getting this working, make sure the key is correct - our site layout chopped the last part of the registry key earlier.

Note: this requires Windows XP Pro. XP home won’t do.

Note: To install the vmware-server package just use the Add/Remove… program.

Note: If RDesktop starts a blue background, instead of just the taskbar, click StartControl PanelUser AccountsChange the way users log on and off, and enable the welcome screen and fast user switching.

Lets begin...
  • Click ApplicationsAdd/Remove… install the vmware-server package.
  • Click SystemAdministrationSynaptic Package Manager. Install the rdesktop package.
  • Click ApplicationsSystem ToolsVMware 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. If you already have windows installed and would like to use that, see this thread first.
  • Once Windows has started:
    • Enable Terminal Services by clicking StartControl PanelSystem. 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 StartRun 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 StartConnect toShow 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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