University of Pretoria
Operational / Internal Site

VCXSRV Windows X Server

VCXSRV provides a free, minimalist yet functional X11 server for use in a Windows environment. This allows users to utilize graphical applications on a remote *nix workstation. Note that due to the bandwidth requirements the use of direct X11 is only feasible on campus with a LAN connection. An alternative, although somewhat more complex to install, is Pass-though X2GO Configuration.

Basic X Server Installation

  • Download and run the current setup executable available Choose the installer appropriate for your Windows version (32-bit or 64-bit). You will see the following intro screen. The default installation components should be fine for most users. Click Next to continue.

VCXSRV Setup Wizard welcome screen

  • The default installation location should be fine for most users. Click Next to continue.

Installation location selection

  • The installation will proceed and should show some like:

Installation progress

Installation completed

  • Additional tasks include selecting the windowing type. Generally the defaults should be used. Click Next to continue.

Start configuration

  • For this installation the default startup mode (server only) is the desired configuration. Click Next to continue.

Installation settings confirmation

  • Lastly, the default extra settings are suitable for most users. Click Next to continue.

Installation progress

  • Following a brief installation status screen, you should see the following dialog indicating successful installation of VCXSRV. You are now equipped to view X11-based graphical applications remotely. Click Finish to exit the installer.

Installation complete

Configure X11 Forwarding in SSH Client

In order to allow remote graphical applications executed via SSH to be redirected to your local machine, X11 forwarding must be enabled. The following procedure describes the steps needed to enable X11 forwarding:

  • Start your SSH client (i.e. putty).
  • Navigate the option configuration tree to find the X11 forwarding option:

Putty X11 forwarding

  • Tick the “Enable X11 forwarding” option.
  • In order to save this as a default setting, navigate to the Session option.

Putty save default settings

  • Select “Default Settings”, followed by Save.

You should now be able to SSH to a remote machine and successfully start an X application, provided that the X server is running (check the right of the task bar for the “X” icon).