X forwarding with Xming

This tutorial will cover how to forward X11 applications from a remote Unix/Linux host to a local Windows machine. On a Unix/Linux machine, you can run remote applications via XForwarding with something like: ssh -X rnixon@dthroat.cat.pdx.edu “gimp”. In order to get this same functionality on a Windows machine, we need to start an Xserver that can display the remote X11 application. We will be using Xming for this purpose.


You will need an account on a remote Unix/Linux machine, PuTTY and Xming. If you are working on a CECS machine, both PuTTY and Xming can be found under Start->All Programs->General Applications. Ensure that the remote Unix/Linux machine is running and has the software you wish to forward installed.


Starting Xming

Simply run Xming from the Start menu. Instead of a window or prompt, Xming will sit in your taskbar, as pictured:

taskbar showing xming icon

That’s all there is to it!


Forwarding X11

Step 1:

First, open PuTTY and specify the address of the remote Unix/Linux host:

Putty window session tab showing where to enter hostname


Step 2:

Next, select Connection->SSH->X11 in the left pane:

Putty window showing where to fine x11 settings


Step 3:

Check ‘Enable X11 Forwarding’:

Putty window showing contents of x11 tab


After successfully logging into the server, you should be at a console prompt. Here you can just enter the name of the program you wish to run and a new window will open up:

command prompt after logging into server


matlab window after typing matlab into command prompt


VNC in Xming

You can also run a VNC server using Xforwarding. To do this, start a VNC session on the remote host with the following:


vncserver –localhost


You should get output similar to:


Starting applications specified in /u/USER/.vnc/xstartup

Log file is /u/USER/.vnc/COMPUTERNAME:#.log


Where COMPUTERNAME is the name of the remote Unix/Linux host, USER is your remote account name, and # signifies the display number the VNC session is started on. In order to start using your VNC session, run:

vncviewer :#


Where the ‘#’ is the display number mentioned earlier. Your should now have access to your Unix/Linux desktop!

Showing vnc session