Setting up X server in Windows

Administrator role of a leading women portal requires you to don various roles at the same time. To research, design, write, review and edit technical documentation is just not enough.
Amongst other things, you will have to demonstrate a strong understanding of professional web application concepts and techniques, such as servers and application integrations to designing and managing content.

Managing servers, fine-tuning them for peak performance and writing server control directives to get the maximum out of a server is almost routine in this line of work.
Towards this, you must have a development server, which matches the real world production server in closer details. We intend to share our experiences in this field – not as a means to trumpet our prowess but to show that we have much humbler origins.

Setting up X server in Windows
In this series, we start with setting up a X server in a Windows machine to work with a Linux development server. It was suggested that an easier way must be found to remotely manage several linux machines from – of all things , a Windows machine. It takes quite some time to walk across to the individual cubicles to check out why some files are not accessible to a select team whilst the rest of the team happily works with the common file server.
Of course most of the things can be managed with just command line interface through SSH, but not some GUI windows manager.
So it is essential that we need a X server to be setup which can connect to any pre-configured linux desktops with little fuss. It will be a No brainer if you are going to use another linux desktop. But here, it was decided that the webmaster’s windows machine needs the deft handling to act as the interface.
In computer parlance X Window System, commonly addressed as X11 or simply X provides windowing for bitmap displays. X windows as it is implemented in the *nix/Linux machines is based on client server technology. The communication between the server and client operates in a transparent manner on the network. In other words, the client and server may run in the same machine or be separated by miles and connected securely through the Internet by tunneling the connection.
We evaluated all options before arriving at a solution that would be easy to implement and manage. In our evaluation we decided to abide by the guiding principles of X as propounded by Bob Scheifler and Jim Gettys:

It is as important to decide what a system is not as to decide what it is. Do not serve all the world’s needs; rather, make the system extensible so that additional needs can be met in an upwardly compatible fashion.
The only thing worse than generalizing from one example is generalizing from no examples at all.
If a problem is not completely understood, it is probably best to provide no solution at all.

 

We decided to go with Cygwin (http://x.cygwin.com/) for this task. So we downloaded the setup.exe and installed the X window system into the target Windows machine. It is simple and requires no hand holding for its installation. We will elaborate more on implementing a SSH server using this cygwin in a later blog.
Suffice it to say that once we are done with the installation, you should be ready to set up the connectivity for the linux desktops.
You will find a batch file to start the X server as here G:\cygwin\usr\X11R6\bin\startxwin.bat or wherever you have installed the Cygwin.
Fire up the batch file and you should be presented with a white screen with a command prompt. You connect to the target linux desktop like so:
SSH –Y –l root 192.168.0.10
The above command uses SSH to establish tunneling for the X windows and logins as root to the destination linux desktop at 192.168.0.10
Supply the credentials as required and you will have logged in to the remote linux desktop.
Fire up the required application from the command prompt and you are done.
For example, you want to see the desktop, type nautilus and you will see the remote desktop in your Windows machine assuming that your remote desktop is a RadHat 9 and it is running Nautilus.
Happy remote computing …


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