X Windows at VTC


If you are a regular user of one of VTC's Linux hosts (lemuria or atlantis), you might want to interact with the machine using the X Window System rather than just using a terminal session. You can do this from many of the lab machines by using StarNet's X-Win32 or you can install X-Win32 on your own machine in your room and use the X Window System from there. Please note, however, that the X protocol is blocked at the firewall for security and performance reasons. You can not establish an X session with a campus computer from outside the VTC network.

Installing X-Win32

X-Win32 is pre-installed in many of the VTC labs. Thus you may be able to skip most of these steps unless you want to install it on your own machine. However, even in the labs it is necessary for you to install the license into your session. This is because the license is installed in individual profiles so each user needs to set up the license separately.

First, download x-win100-1088sf.exe from my file archive. This is the installation program. Simply execute it (double click on it in Windows Explorer) to install the program. Follow the on-screen instructions. You can accept all defaults. Installation is straightforward. When you start X-Win32 for the first time you will be asked for a license key. Select "Floating" for the license type and enter the following material. This key is only good for operation on the VTC network.


You may also need to unblock the server in your firewall. The server normally listens to port 6000. Windows may prompt you to do this (you will need to be an administrator on your Windows machine to open a hole in your firewall).

Configuring and Running X-Win32

Before you run the X server proper, you might have to configure a suitable session. The session information is stored in your profile and may or may not follow you around the network, depending on the precise configuration of the machines you use. Run the X-Config program from the start menu and add a session. Use the session creation wizard. Make the session name the same as the short name of the host you want to use (for example "lemuria") and select XDMCP in query mode (query mode allows you to contact a specific host from anywhere on the network). You will have to fill in a host name. Use the fully qualified domain name of the host (for example "lemuria.cis.vtc.edu"). Create a session for each host that you want to use.

I also recommend that you change the window mode to "single window." This is done on the "Window" tab of the X-Config dialog. This allows the window manager on the remote host to control your display.

Starting X-Win32

After you've configured your session(s) you can close the X-Config program. Start the X-Win32 server and look for it in the system tray at the lower right of your screen. Right click on it and then open the session you just created. If you did everything right a large window should open (filling the screen) and a graphical login dialog should appear. Enter your username and password on the host and away you go. Don't forget to log out of the Linux host before closing X-Win32!

© Copyright 2009 by Peter C. Chapin
Last Revised: December 15, 2009