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Feature: Networking

Use Linux over Windows with Xming

By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier on August 08, 2007 (9:00:00 AM)

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One of the nice things about the X Window System is its ability to display X apps running remotely on a local machine. One of the not-so-nice things about Microsoft Windows is the complete lack of native support for displaying X applications. If you find yourself working on Windows but wanting to use Linux apps at the same time, Xming can do the job. Xming is a port of X Window System to Microsoft Windows that's free and easy to use.

Xming is licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2), and comes packaged as Windows executables with easy-to-use installers. If all you want is an X Window Server -- and not a complete Unix-type environment -- Xming is a better choice than Cygwin/X. It also has the advantage of more active development -- Cygwin/X hasn't been updated since 2004, according to its homepage.

Xming is trivial to install. Head to the Xming project page and find the releases section. You probably want to stick to the stable releases unless there's a feature in the recent development releases that you can't live without. Grab the current Xming, or Xming-mesa, if you have an older client that might need the Mesa renderer instead of OpenGL, and run the setup wizard. It takes a minute or so to run through the install. You'll probably also want to grab the Xming-fonts installer, which installs the core X fonts. After you've installed these packages, you're ready to start running X on Windows.

Getting started

The Xming installation procedure creates a desktop shortcut called XLaunch. Double-click it and you'll see a dialog that lets you choose whether Xming displays programs in multiple windows, a single window, fullscreen, or in a single window without a title bar.

What's with all the options? Depending on what you plan to do, you may want to run several windows on your Windows desktop in order to display several different programs. On the other hand, you might choose to connect to a machine using the X Display Manager Control Protocol (XDMCP) and display an entire desktop on your Windows machine.

If you're going with the multiple programs scenario, choose "Multiple Windows." You can also set the display number at the bottom of the dialog. Leave this as 0 if this is the first connection that you're making, or set to 1 (or 2, or 3, etc.) if you're making multiple X connections. If you forget, you'll get an error when trying to start up a subsequent session.

On the next window, choose the session type. For this type of connection, choose "Start a program," and click Next.

In the next dialog, click "Run Remote" and click the radio button next to "Using PuTTY" and fill out the user and host information. If you don't enter your password here, you'll be prompted for it when Xming connects to the remote system.

Assuming all goes well, you'll get an xterm from the remote system. You can then either work in the xterm or start an X application in the xterm that will be displayed on the local system using Xming.

You can also run something other than an xterm when connecting to the remote system. In the Start program dialog, just enter the name of the program you want to run in place of xterm. It's slightly counterintuitive, because the name of the program appears in a drop-down box and looks like you'd select something from a list rather than type in a free-form name, but you can enter your own program here. I like having an xterm or other terminal program, though, so I can start as many apps as I like.

I've used Xming with stock X applications (like xcalc) and GNOME and KDE apps (like Epiphany, Konqueror, Gnome-terminal, and others) and had no problems running the applications. Other than having the standard Microsoft Windows title bar and such, these apps look just as they would on Linux.

Run an entire desktop

You can also use Xming to turn your Windows machine into a X terminal, more or less. Again, click the XLaunch icon, and this time select "One Window" or "Fullscreen." Next, select "Open session via XDMCP" on the Session type dialog. On the next dialog, you can choose to connect to a specific host, or you can tell Xming to search for XDMCP servers.

The next dialog allows you to specify additional parameters. You probably won't need to give Xming any additional parameters, but if you need to specify a remote font server, this is the dialog to do it in.

Finally, you can save the configuration if you want and reuse it later. Once you click Finish, you should see whatever X login manager is running on the system you're connecting to.

Xming is easy to use and provides an excellent X server for folks who have to run Windows. Since it's free software, it's also much better for the budget than commercial X servers for Windows, and it enjoys fairly frequent releases, so it should be around for some time to come.

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on Use Linux over Windows with Xming

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There are more mature free alternatives

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 198.240.213.26] on August 08, 2007 10:55 AM
"Xming is a better choice than Cygwin/X"
Why? What is better, exactly?

"It [Xming] also has the advantage of more active development -- Cygwin/X hasn't been updated since 2004, according to its homepage."
That's because Cygwin/X is mature and stable. It has a lot of users, and no bugfixes were necessary since 2004. I use it every day. For something like an X server, stability and maturity are more important than anything else. I would advise anyone whose work depended on an X server to go with Cygwin/X. I'm a Unix developer at a big bank, using the development system from a Windows XP desktop, and the employer provides Hummingbird's Exceed X server. But the bank also allows us to use Cygwin if we want, and most of my colleagues use Cygwin/X in preference to Hummingbird Exceed (a commercial product), because it seems to be more stable.
The other stuff that comes with Cygwin is "nice to have".

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 142.213.160.67] on August 08, 2007 01:57 PM
I don't agree with anonymous above, unmaintained code is unmaintained code, that involves more than just bugfixes. From Xming web site: "Xming is kept up-to-date by tracking changes in the X.Org repositories, the X Keyboard Configuration Database and the FreeType2 font engine (with the bytecode interpreter and subpixel rendering activated), while Cygwin/X is no longer maintained." Cygwin/X is fine, I've used it for a long time and I too prefered it to Exceed and ReflexionX (another commercial X Window server) but now I use Xming, it is better.

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.162.231.19] on August 08, 2007 03:46 PM
I have used Cygwin in the past and I wanted to give Xming a try, plus I like the option of running everything from my flash drive. However, when I went to download a copy of Xming I was confronted with a Donate message box. I could not download Xming unless I donated £10. I don't mind supporting projects that I use and I do but to be asked to pay before I even try the software is wrong. I realize that hardware cost money but don't expect new users to try Xming if it cost £10.

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Re: Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.208.85.22] on August 08, 2007 04:29 PM
I had no problems downloading the package with NO "Donate message box". I went to the Xming home page which sent me to sourceforge for the download. I haven't tried it out yet as I don't boot Windo$ very often for all kinds of reasons. If I ever boot Windo$ again I'll try it out.

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 62.150.137.148] on August 08, 2007 04:16 PM
plz i like to work with linux (suse ) but my file in windows will show me how to do it

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.223.243.6] on August 08, 2007 07:59 PM
Does this have any advantages over using VNC to create X server connections? Like you, I am tired of running Hummingbird exceed and other dusty old commercial X server applications, but I have found running a VNC server on a Linux system and running a vncviewer on a Windows desktop is all I need.

Any reason to do otherwise? What are some advantages and disadvantages to Xming?

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.223.243.6] on August 08, 2007 09:11 PM
It sounds like one reason to consider using Xming rather than CygwinX, for example, is that Xming is supported and current. If it is as stable as CygwinX and more current, that makes sense. Otherwise, in a commercial institution where most of the hardware and software you are using will be in place for years, as long as there are no adverse security implications, using an old X server should be fine.

From my perspective, I am also interested in features. How easy is it to connect to other servers? Can you connect directly into a Linux server as if you were a local desktop user so you can, for instance, get a complete KDE, GNOME, IceWM, or some desktop or window manager environment - and do so easily, without having to type in a bunch of long commands every time you want to do it?

You can do this with VNC. The question, then, is what does Xming give me over VNC?

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Re: Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 146.50.19.141] on August 09, 2007 07:57 AM
It gives you nothing over VNC. Nobody will start kcalc or konqueror over Xming on his windows desktop: start a remote video presentation and you will see what happens. Vnc is a program especial focused on remote execution, so there is a protocol how the graphics is transmitted over internet in some encoded format. And here the differences come; you can't speak about "vnc" because there are several flavours. TightVNC which is in my opinion one of the best solutions, runs on linux and windows and has an efficient jpeg compression which reduces the graphical traffic. XMing is just a translation of X calls into windows calls (if I'm correct), it's something different.
So the answer: use (tight)VNC and ditch Xming for remote X applications. And if you have the applications on harddisk install a virtual linux server.

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Re(1): Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.1.2.179] on August 27, 2007 08:41 PM
But NX (or FreeNX, for that matter) is much better than VNC. I can use NX through slow lines, but VNC... way heavier.

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 200.150.27.202] on August 12, 2007 02:35 AM
juninho

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.8.5.33] on August 12, 2007 09:06 PM
I like xming, because it is small, but i installed last centos and i'm not able to connect with xming. Cygwin works...

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.52.138.106] on August 14, 2007 02:49 AM
I've had good experiences using NoMachine's NX Client.

http://www.nomachine.com/

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 64.131.130.66] on August 19, 2007 03:04 AM
is good

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.48.36.151] on September 24, 2007 08:12 PM
Xming was exactly what I was looking for! Running X apps without needing to run it inside another desktop.. so I can organize my win and linux applications without having them separated on two different desktops..

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Re: Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.16.243.190] on November 05, 2007 11:02 PM
I think this is probably possible with Xming, but I'm a little ignorant on the terminological end, so while I know what I want, I'm not 100% sure how to ask about it.

I've used and am mostly happy with Xming in its multiple-window configuration. I'm frustrated, however, by the single
virtual workspace, denoted by the single "workspace" bar at the bottom of the desktop window adjacent to the "Start"
menu.
I would like multiple workspaces (like CDE - the common desktop environment) so that I can logically put aside one
workspace to deal with (say) a high priority issue and then, after it has been dealt with, revert back to my prior
workspace. I *think* Hummingbird's Exceed had this capability (my memory is a little rusty), and I know it had the
ability to "toggle desktops" (between the Exceed desktop and the Windows desktop).

I think -- if I understand your posting correctly -- that you have succeeded in doing something like what I want to do.
Can you offer any advice on getting there ?

Thanks!

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Cygwin

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.195.227.146] on October 09, 2007 06:46 PM
Cygwin was updated in January of 2007 according to the hompage.

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Re: Cygwin

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.170.149.206] on October 30, 2007 10:56 PM
Yeah, but not the X part. That hasn't been maintained since 2004.

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Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.91.158.82] on January 08, 2008 06:33 PM
One strange 'gotcha' I've run into with Xming is it doesn't create a login shell on the remote system. This means the system-wide bash_profile is never executed, so you never get any paths or environment variables set in that file. I'm not sure how to work around this; putty doesn't seem to have any command-line flags to indicate a login shell should be created.

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Re: Use Linux over Windows with Xming

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.91.158.82] on January 08, 2008 06:43 PM
Hmm, replying to my own post it looks like you can work around it by putting 'bash -l -c' in front of whatever you plan to run, in the Xlaunch dialog box. For example, 'bash -l -c emacs'.

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