Minimum requirement to display GUI on Windows for Linux

I manage multiple Linux servers in AWS, none of which has display server installed, neither x nor Wayland. Display servers run on my Windows machine. I prefer portable application over setup.exe. By portable, I mean no changes to registry, and all change are limited to the local folder that holds the download. There are some portable packages on Windows that can do this well, listed in reference section.

I wanted to go one step further: not only portable, but getting rid of terminal emulator, e.g. PuTTY. The solution on Windows includes two parts: x server and ssh.exe. Here are the key points.

  1. x server: downloaded as zip file. Both Xming and VcXsrv are tested well.
  2. sh.exe: can be copied, instead of installed, over from either git or installed Cygwin.
  3. It’s very important to set DISPLAY variable on both Linux and Windows. On windows it’s like this: set DISPLAY=

X11 forwarding can be removed too: (only tested on the same LAN)

  1. take out -X option when starting ssh.exe
  2. run “DISPLAY=MyWindowHost:0” on Linux.
  3. explicitly tell x server who is allowed to connect. e.g. edit X0.hosts for Xming.


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