How to access Linux desktop GUI from Windows 10 remotely

Let’s get started with the tutorial where we will discuss the steps we need follow to access Linux GUI from Windows 10/7 remotely.

Graphical programs on Linux isn’t anything new, and we all use them for literally every kind of task. The graphical programs on Linux can be opened both from the Terminal, with the command to open the respective program or the default launcher that comes with different Linux distributions out there. When it comes to remote controlling a Linux system, the best way to do that is by using PuTTY, which is the most reliable SSH and Telnet client used to send commands to a Linux system, and execute it on the remote Linux computer. But when it comes to graphical programs, it isn’t that straightforward to do so.

You can obviously use some remote control applications like AnyDesk or TeamViewer, but if you are reading this article, you are quite acquainted with the pains associated with it, and there are limitations, as well. But here I am with the tutorial on how to run remote graphical Linux programs on your computer, just like the way you run programs installed on your computer. Linux programs rely on a special element called the X Server to run graphical applications. You just need to install it on your Windows computer, and once you are done, you are ready to go.

Step 1: Downloading and Installing PuTTY

The first step is to install PuTTY on your Windows 10/7/ or the client computer.

Download PuTTY installer or the PuTTY portable version, whichever is convenient for you, and install it with the default settings the same way you install any other Windows 10 program. 

Step 2: Downloading and installing Xming X Server

The second step is to download the Xming X Server on Windows 10, to run graphical Linux applications on your Windows computer remotely.

The installation of Xming X Server is also similar to the installation of other Windows programs. However, make sure you select ‘Don’t install an SSH client’, as PuTTY is already installed on your computer if you are strictly following the steps.

Downloading and installing Xming X Server

Step 3: Configuring the remote Linux system for SSH

Now it is the time that you do configure your Linux system. Unless you are a noob, chances are there, your Linux system is already configured. You just need the IP address of the Linux computer, if the things are already configured. Still, let me discuss it in short.

Make sure, SSH is installed on your Linux system.

Just type ‘ssh’ and hit the enter key to find out whether it is installed on your Linux computer or not. If not installed, type in the following command and hit the enter key.

sudo apt-get install openssh-server

Once the installation is complete, type in ‘ifconfig’ and note down the IP address of the Linux computer.

Configuring the Linux system

If that gives an error, install net-tools by typing in the following command and then by hitting the enter key.

sudo apt-get install net-tools

Once the installation is complete, the ‘ifconfig’ should work now. If it isn’t working type in ‘/sbin/ifconfig’, and now the IP address should be available to you. Just note it down.

Step 4: Running graphical Linux programs

Now to the last leg of the remote Linux GUI access tutorial.

Once you have configured everything, it is the time that you actually run some graphical Linux programs on Windows.

Open XLaunch on your Windows computer.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 3

Select ‘Multiple windows’ and click on ‘Next’ if it isn’t selected by default.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 4

Step 5: Select how to start Xming

Select ‘Start no client’, and click on ‘Next’. That should, however, be the default option.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 5

Click on ‘Next’ once again, by marking ‘Clipboard’. Leave the other fields as it is.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 6

Now you can save the configuration, or leave it. Finally, click on ‘Finish’ to apply all the configured settings.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 7

The Xming server should now run in the Windows system tray.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 8

Step 6: Enable X11 forwarding in PuTTY

Now open PuTTY on your Windows computer, and turn on ‘Enable X11 forwarding’ by expanding ‘SSH’ under ‘Connections’.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 9

Step 7: Enter Ipaddress for ssh graphical interface of linux

Here we will enter remote Linux server Ip address in Putty.

In the session, enter the IP address of your remote Linux computer that you have noted down earlier, and click on ‘Open’. Click on ‘Yes’ in the message box that appears.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 10 Xming to run graphical Linux programs 11

Step 8: Login to Linux Server or Desktop for GUI access

Now login to your user account on PuTTY with the username and the password to access the server remotely.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 12

Now finally type in the appropriate command to run the graphical program from the Linux computer on your Windows computer.

Here are some sample graphical Linux programs

Running remotely on Windows 10 computer.

Xming to run graphical Linux programs 13 Xming to run graphical Linux programs 14 Xming to run graphical Linux programs 15

This can surely make your task a lot easier, when you need to remotely access your Linux computer, as well. As the processing will be carried out on the remote Linux computer, the experience of running remote Linux programs will depend upon the processing capability of the remote computer, and the network speed, as well.

Well, if you want to watch some videos or want to do some graphics-intensive tasks on the remote graphical programs, don’t expect a magnificent performance. The frame rate will hardly be around 10-20 per second at best. That limited frame rate will hardly be useful for any graphics-intensive tasks like video streaming, gaming, etc.

Have fun running remote graphical Linux programs on your Windows computer. Did you face any problems? Feel free to comment on the same down below.

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