Operations > Computing > FAQ

Xming Setup

Xming is an X11 server for Windows systems. It allows Windows systems to run X11 applications from unix systems. Xming should be installed by default on ECE Windows Lab systems.

This page contains pointers on running X11 applications on the ECE Linux Lab systems on a Windows system via Xming and PuTTY. Mac OS X systems can use XQuartz and run the command ssh -XY somelinuxlabhost in a terminal, though that is not covered here.

X11 sessions may not be able to be setup if your account is over quota.

Start Xming

There are several ways to launch Xming; the following just launches the X11 server via the XLaunch command. Note that running Xming on a shared server is problematic; both instances will use the same TCP port by default.

Run XLaunch. Pick something from the display settings, and then start no client, and then finish with the rest of the 'next' clicking.

This should leave an XMing process running, if all goes well. (If not, kill off any XMing processes, and try the above again. On a shared server system, editing the configuration file may be necessary to use a different port.)

Configure PuTTY to Enable X11 Forwarding

First, enable X11 Forwarding. This feature is hidden down among the settings options, though must be set before moving on to subsequent steps.

Then, be sure to save this setting, back up under the "session" panel, either to the "Default Settings" or some new setting for a custom hostname.

Connect with PuTTY

Connect to a Linux Lab system. You will need to have an ECE account to login the linux lab systems.


Once logged in, check that the DISPLAY environment variable has been set. This should be set automatically if X11 Forwarding has been enabled in PuTTY, and Xming is running. The $DISPLAY should contain something like the following (the numbers after localhost may vary):

linux13$ echo $DISPLAY

If not, it is likely one of the above steps was not done correctly; kill off any XMing processes and try the above steps again.

Launch X11 application within PuTTY Session

Run an X11 application; xterm is good to test with, or launch matlab or so forth. Use xterm & to run the xterm in the background.


Note that this method requires an active network connection; programs running will be lost if the connection drops. If this is a problem, instead setup a VNC session.

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