VcXsrv X server for Windows

A X server is needed on Windows if you SSH to remote Linux computers and wish to start X or GUI applications from there. It is also necessary if you are working with a Linux distribution running inside Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). VcXsrv is a free open-source X server that can be used for all these purposes.

  • To install VcXsrv, download its installer from here and install it.
  • Launch XLaunch from the Windows start menu. This brings up a wizard to pick the X server configuration options. I choose Multiple Windows and go with the default options for the rest. Now the X server is running in the background.

  • Local: Go to your WSL shell (say Ubuntu) and set the DISPLAY environment variable:

$ export DISPLAY=localhost:0.0

Launch any X or GUI app and its window should now be displayed in its own individual Windows window.

  • Remote: Remember to SSH to the remote system with trusted X11 forwarding using option -Y. On the remote system, set the DISPLAY variable:
$ export DISPLAY=your-windows-ip:0.0

When you start XLaunch you may want to choose to Disable access control. Otherwise you may get errors like this:

$ xeyes
Authorization required, but no authorization protocol specified
Error: Can't open display: 10.0.0.99:0.0

Tried with: VcXsrv 1.20.1.4 and Ubuntu 18.04 WSL

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