Getting X going using Win32

Rasjid Wilcox rasjidw at
Sat Dec 29 23:03:07 EST 2001

On Sat, 29 Dec 2001 16:54, Donovan J. Edye wrote:
> G’Day,
> I am following the instructions detailed in APC Issue 277 Jan 2002 article
> “Windows Onto Linux”. I have downloaded and installed WinAxe and have
> logged in to my Linux box with the same username and password I use on my
> Win2K box. I have exported the Display variable as detailed but when I type
> the following at the linux box shell prompt I get:
> donovan at moe:~$ export DISPLAY=

try $ export DISPLAY=

You almost certainly need a display number!

> donovan at moe:~$ gnome-terminal

> Gtk-WARNING **: cannot open display:
> My setup is as follows:
> Linux Box:
> Win2K Box:
> WinAxe running as described in article
> Anybody got some pointers for me?

I have not used WinAxe, but I have used XWin-32 and from memory you need to 
tell it the hosts to 'trust', ie, the hosts that is allows X connections 
from.  On Linux the equivalent command is xhost, and I think it is called the 
same under XWin-32.  Look for something similar on WinAxe, although perhaps 
WinAxe will accept connections without this.

Alternately, you could use one of the free and open source options, all of 
which were somehow 'overlooked' by APC.

The free options are:
A port of XFree86 to Windows using the cygwin library.  This works quite 
well.  There are a couple of spin-off projects (including my own) that just 
do remote display (XDMCP etc).

Win32 X11 project:
A port of XFree86 to Windows without using the cygwin library.  I have tried 
this, and I got the XServer up and running, but it died when I actually tried 
to display a KDE desktop on it.  Cygwin-XFree is more mature and under more 
active development.

This is not really X at all, but uses its own protocol and its own clients.  
It does however have it own advantages.
a) It is extremely mature.
b) It allows the displaying of Windows onto Linux (contrary to APC's 
statement that 'it's a pity the reverse isn't also possible) as well as Linux 
on Windows.
c) When run as a virtual X-server on Linux, you can kill client connections 
without losing the X-server, so you can re-connect (even from a different 
machine) and all your programs are still there and running.
There are other advantages as well.
IMHO, its main disadvantage is its startup / logon / authentication process.

There are several different versions, including TightVNC for using over slow 
networks, and there was TridaVNC (a commercially suported version) but is 
seems to have disappeared.

There are also two projects (that I know of) that aim to provide easy to use 
and install pre-packaged versions of at least parts of the above options.

There is WinFree86,, which has not 
released any files yet, although when I last emailed the developer, he was 
planning on doing some work on it over the holiday period.  It will be based 
on Cygwin-XFree86.

There is also my own project, which is really nothing but a cut down version 
of Cygwin-XFree86 (no modifications to any of the binaries). See for details of the part about using 
XDMCP.  However, I've taken down the binaries due to complaints by some of 
the Cygwin-XFree people.  You can get the directly from 
Alternately you can wait 3-4 weeks for the alpha of a GUI installer and 
frontend I'm writing for the Cygwin-XFree86 port, which should remove most of 
the difficulties and eventally make it as straight forward as installing any 
other Windows application, but allow me to not host any cygwin-xfree 
binaries, and thus keep the cygwin-xfree people happy.

I'm been meaning to write to APC and point out some of their oversights and 
inaccuracies.  Cygwin-XFree86 is the 5th Google entry on "free x server 
windows 98" and the first entry on "open source x server windows 98", so I 
think there is little excuse for not at least picking up that one.

I hope this is of some help.



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