Using VcXsrv and PuTTY (remote X for Windows)

I used to use Xming (alongside PuTTY) to display X11 applications from a remote Linux machine from Windows 7.

However, recently I discovered VcXsrv when looking for other X Server for Windows. VcXsrv is ‘better’ than Xming (the free version of Xming is over 6 years old, but you get the latest version if you donate) as it’s based on the same source code (compiled using Visual Studio as Xming (the paid for version) but ‘free’ (as in open source)!

Besides, you don’t have to use PuTTY with VcXsrv, as it has the facility to log on via ssh built in; I prefer to use PuTTY as I always have used it!

Configuring VcXsrv and PuTTY

  1. First things first, if you haven’t already done so,
  2. Start VcXsrv either by clicking on the Start menu (Windows Vista or Windows 7) and typing ‘Xlaunch’ and pressing enter. Windows 8 users press the Windows key* (to get the the metro interface) and again type ‘Xlaunch’ and press enter.

    *Assuming you have a Windows button on your keyboard ;-)

  3. In the display settings select multiple windows, and set the display number to 10select Multiple Windows and set Display number to 10
  4. Select “Start no client”
  5. Press next (accept the defaults already checked in the wizard)”
  6. Press finish, and VcXsrv should start (if it has started successfully, a new icon will appear in the system tray):
    Press finish
  7. Launch Putty, in the host name box, type the host name (or IP address) of the remote Linux machine you’re connecting to:
    enter the host name in PuTTY

  8. From the configuration options (on the left hand side on the Window)Expand “Connection” and “SSH”, select X11. Check the “Enable X11 forwarding” option box and set the X display location to and press “Open”
    configuring x11 forwarding in PuTTY
  9. You should then be prompted to log into the remote server, enter your credentials, once authenticated, type the name of a program you wish to use e.g gedit, and if configured correctly, the program should launch with a GUI:

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7 Responses to “Using VcXsrv and PuTTY (remote X for Windows)”

  1. FrancoVirgaDecember 23, 2013 at 16:53 #

    Very helpful! It works. It is interesting to note that it is mandatory to specify and not localhost in the putty configuration options! Initially I specified localhost ad received all kind of error messages.


    • Alex CooperDecember 24, 2013 at 11:21 #

      Yeah it does seem strange using instead of localhost, but that’s the only way I could get it to work :-)

  2. jimFebruary 13, 2014 at 03:49 #

    you mentioned that vcxsrv has the embedded ability to use ssh without putty and I was wondering where that option might be and how to configure the option as I have ONE OF THOSE USERS who is insistent on using vnc which I will not allow so I have to make it as simple and straight forward as I can so the DBA has no EXTRA steps to deal with. How can I setup vcxsrv for her so she does not have to jump through the hoops to get a X session running? phuqing dba’s! ARGGGGGGG!


  3. WayneFebruary 26, 2014 at 16:32 #

    Appreciate the article. Worked like a charm. I was wondering if there was any way that I could get the desktop environment to pop up instead of a single instance of a program.

    • WayneFebruary 26, 2014 at 16:41 #

      Nevermind. I figured it out. just used the command ‘gnome-session’ and it worked.

      • Alex CooperFebruary 27, 2014 at 19:39 #

        You beat me to it :-)

  4. FlosApril 1, 2014 at 09:50 #

    Nice article! Thank you! :)

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