Running X-windows ... on Windows.

I run a number of computers from an old Compaq Evo N410C as a netbook, through to a new Dell Studio 15 laptop with all the bells and whistles.  I also run different operating systems - mainly Windows and Ubuntu ( ).  The problem is, I often have files and projects scattered across the various computers depending on when and where I use them.  Therefore I want to be able to hop from computer to computer to get to the files I need pretty well from anywhere - even from my Android phone.

So what to do?  The usual approach people take is to use some type of remote desktop application - such as VNC or RDP.  This is easy enough, but overlays one desktop (the remote one) on another (the local one)  On a laptop this makes it dfficult to work between the two screens and is sometimes slow to update - not to mention awkward to share information between the remote and local machines. 
Better by far is to be able to run the application on the target machine but have the output displayed on the screen in front of you.  Impossible?  Not if you use linux.  Unix and Linux machines have been able to run software on a remote machine like this for almost twenty years.

This is what you do to run linux apps on a linux PC but have the windows viewable on a Windows PC or laptop:
  • On the target (this is for Ubuntu) machine, make sure an SSH deamon is available (open a terminal and run the command 
sudo apt-get install ssh
That's it.  You're ready.  Now, on the Windows PC or laptop you need to install two bits of software:
When Xming is first installed you will be prompted to launch Xming.  This will then launch and sit in the system tray as an icon.

Now for the last stages - configuring PuTTY.  Start PuTTY from the start menu and on the PuTTY configuration window:
    • In the Category section on the left, click on the [+] beside SSH
    • Click on X11 and in the right hand window tick the box beside Enable X11 forwarding
    • Enter localhost:0 in the box labelled X display location
    • Now in the Category section, click on Session
    • Under Hostname (or IP address) enter the address of your Ubuntu computer
    • Under Saved Sessions enter a name for your session and click Save
    Almost there.  Now double-click on your saved session and a black-and-white terminal window starts up with a pop-up confirming that you should save the SSH key.  Accept this.  Now log in to your Ubuntu host using your username and password and you are greeted with a normal Ubuntu prompt.  Now type in gedit & and press return.  In a few seconds you should see the familiar gedit window pop up on your Windows laptop.  Now, if you try to open a file you'll be looking at the files on your Ubuntu box - NOT those on your Windows PC.

    You're done.  Welcome to the world of X-windows ... on Windows.

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