WinApps for Linux

Run Windows apps such as Microsoft Office/Adobe in Linux (Ubuntu/Fedora) and GNOME/KDE as if they were a part of the native OS, including Nautilus integration for right clicking on files of specific mime types to open them.

How it works

WinApps was created as an easy, one command way to include apps running inside a VM (or on any RDP server) directly into GNOME as if they were native applications. WinApps works by:

  • Running a Windows RDP server in a background VM container
  • Checking the RDP server for installed applications such as Microsoft Office
  • If those programs are installed, it creates shortcuts leveraging FreeRDP for both the CLI and the GNOME tray
  • Files in your home directory are accessible via the \\tsclient\home mount inside the VM
  • You can right click on any files in your home directory to open with an application, too

Currently supported applications

WinApps supports ANY installed application on your system.

It does this by:

  1. Scanning your system for offically configured applications (below)
  2. Scanning your system for any other EXE files with install records in the Windows Registry

Any officially configured applications will have support for high-resolution icons and mime types for automatically detecting what files can be opened by each application. Any other detected executable files will leverage the icons pulled from the EXE.


Step 1: Download the repo and prerequisites

To get things going, use:

sudo apt-get install -y freerdp2-x11
git clone
cd winapps

Step 2: Creating your WinApps configuration file

You will need to create a ~/.config/winapps/winapps.conf configuration file with the following information in it:


The username and password should be a full user account and password, such as the one created when setting up Windows or a domain user. It cannot be a user/PIN combination as those are not valid for RDP access.


  • When using a pre-existing non-KVM RDP server, you can use the RDP_IP to specify it’s location
  • If you are running a VM in KVM with NAT enabled, leave RDP_IP commented out and WinApps will auto-detect the right local IP
  • For domain users, you can uncomment and change RDP_DOMAIN
  • On high-resolution (UHD) displays, you can set RDP_SCALE to the scale you would like [100|140|160|180]
  • To add flags to the FreeRDP call, such as /audio-mode:1 to pass in a mic, use the RDP_FLAGS configuration option
  • For multi-monitor setups, you can try enabling MULTIMON, however if you get a black screen (FreeRDP bug) you will need to revert back
  • If you enable DEBUG, a log will be created on each application start in ~/.local/share/winapps/winapps.log

Step 3: Setting up your Windows VM

Option 1 - Running KVM

You can refer to the KVM documentation for specifics, but the first thing you need to do is set up a Virtual Machine running Windows 10 Professional (or any version that supports RDP). First, clone WinApps and install KVM and FreeRDP:

sudo apt-get install -y virt-manager

Now set up KVM to run as your user instead of root and allow it through AppArmor (for Ubuntu 20.04 and above):

sudo sed -i "s/#user = "root"/user = "$(id -un)"/g" /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf
sudo sed -i "s/#group = "root"/group = "$(id -gn)"/g" /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf
sudo usermod -a -G kvm $(id -un)
sudo usermod -a -G libvirt $(id -un)
sudo systemctl restart libvirtd
sudo ln -s /etc/apparmor.d/usr.sbin.libvirtd /etc/apparmor.d/disable/

sleep 5

sudo virsh net-autostart default
sudo virsh net-start default

You will likely need to reboot to ensure your current shell is added to the group.

Next, define a VM called RDPWindows from the sample XML file with:

virsh define kvm/RDPWindows.xml
virsh autostart RDPWindows

To increase performance of the VM and decrease resource utilization, read the Improving Performance section.

You will now want to change any settings on the VM and install Windows and whatever programs you would like, such as Microsoft Office. If the definition fails, you can always manually create a VM. You can access VMs with:


Option 2 - I already have an RDP server or VM

If you already have an RDP server or VM, using WinApps is very straight forward. Simply skip to step 4!

Step 4: Configuring your Windows VM

After the install process, or on your current RDP server, you will want to complete the following steps. These steps should be completed regardless of whether you use a KVM based VM, another virtualization software, or a remote RDP server.

  • Go to the Start Menu
    • Type “About”
    • Open “About”
    • Change the PC name to “RDPWindows” if you are using KVM (This will allow WinApps to detect the local IP)
  • Go to Settings
    • Under “System”, then “Remote Desktop” allow remote connections for RDP
  • Merge install/RDPApps.reg into the registry to enable RDP Applications

Step 5: Connect GNOME/KDE to your Windows VM with shortcuts and file associations

Lastly, check that FreeRDP can connect with:

bin/winapps check

You will see output from FreeRDP, as well as potentially have to accept the initial certificate. After that, a Windows Explorer window should pop up. You can close this window and press Ctrl-C to cancel out of FreeRDP.

If this step fails, try restarting the VM, or your problem could be related to:

  • You need to accept the security cert the first time you connect (with ‘check’)
  • Not enabling RDP in the Windows VM
  • Not being able to connect to the IP of the VM
  • Incorrect user credentials in ~/.config/winapps/winapps.conf
  • Not merging install/RDPApps.reg into the VM

Then the final step is to run the installer which will prompt you for a system or user install:


This will take you through the following process:

![]( =1000x)

Adding applications

Adding applications to the installer is easy. Simply copy one of the application configurations in the apps folder, and:

  • Edit the variables for the application
  • Replace the icon.svg with an SVG for the application (appropriately licensed)
  • Re-run the installer
  • Submit a Pull Request to add it to WinApps officially

When running the installer, it will check for if any configured apps are installed, and if they are it will create the appropriate shortcuts on the host OS.

Running applications manually

WinApps offers a manual mode for running applications that are not configured. This is completed with the manual flag. Executables that are in the path do not require full path definition.

./bin/winapps manual "C:\my\directory\executableNotInPath.exe"
./bin/winapps manual executableInPath.exe

Checking for new application support

The installer can be run multiple times, so simply run the below again and it will remove any current installations and update for the latest applications.


Optional installer command line arguments

The following optional commands can be used to manage your application configurations without prompts:

./ --user                # Configure applications for the current user
./ --system              # Configure applications for the entire system
./ --user --uninstall    # Remove all configured applications for the current user
./ --system --uninstall  # Remove all configured applications for the entire system

Improving performance

Reducing idle CPU usage from ~25% to ~3%

In KVM, the CPU timing is not optimized by default. Use virsh edit RDPWindows to edit the VM and change:

<clock offset='localtime'>
  <timer name='rtc' tickpolicy='catchup'/>
  <timer name='pit' tickpolicy='delay'/>
  <timer name='hpet' present='no'/>
  <timer name='hypervclock' present='yes'/>


<clock offset='localtime'>
  <timer name='hpet' present='yes'/>
  <timer name='hypervclock' present='yes'/>

Common issues

  • Black window: This is a FreeRDP bug that sometimes comes up. Try restarting the application or rerunning the command. If that doesn’t work, ensure you have MULTIMON disabled.
  • Arch Linux Fails to define VM: We’re working on creating a KVM template for Arch, until then, manually create your VM in virt-manager