Discovering More Work-Related Windows Apps…


I know it’s a little sad, but I’m kinda enjoying discovering new little apps for Windows to do all those things that come out-of-the-box on Linux. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not loving Windows, but enjoying the discovery process itself.

X Server

On a Linux desktop you don’t need to worry about this, as your desktop is already using one. To get GUIs on the remote server to run on the local desktop, you just need connect to the remote server using “ssh -X”

On Windows you need some additional software. There are plenty of paid for options, like Exceed, but there are also some free options. Many moons ago I used to use Cygwin. It’s still around and still does the job just fine. Remember to install the Cygwin/X libraries. Once it’s installed, do the following:

  • Start a Cygwin terminal.
  • Type “startx” and return.
  • In the resulting X windows interface, connect to your server of interest using “ssh -Y”
  • In some cases I still had to manually run “export” on the remote server.

It works OK, but the process feels a little clumsy.

Whilst Googling for alternatives I came across MobaXterm, which is very neat. It’s a self contained executable, like Putty.exe, and comes with a whole host of connectivity options, including automatically starting a local X Server for all SSH connections. No configuration required. No messing. Just start a GUI in the remote machine via SSH and it appears on your PC screen. Cool. I’ve now replaced Putty.exe (and PuttyCM), Cygwin and the occasional WinSCP with MobaXterm. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.

A nice side benefit of Cygwin and MobaXterm is they give you access to lots of UNIX/Linux commands on Windows. 🙂


On Linux it’s real easy. You just call it from the command line. See “man scp”.

On Windows, I started to use WinSCP, which is OK, but it feels very clumsy. Since trying MobaXterm I don’t bother with WinSCP anymore, because connections to a machine using SSH automatically start an SFTP panel. Very handy.


There’s no getting away from vi on Linux, and I’m happy to use it to edit odd files, but I’m not enough of a fan to do anything large with it. Followers of the blog know I’m an UltraEdit fan. As far as free Windows editors go, Notepad++ is a pretty neat editor. Having said that, MobaXterm includes quite a good editor, especially useful for editing large files on remote systems.


I guess a special mention should go out to PortableApps, which helped me through the first few days at work while I was struggling to get stuff installed on my PC. There’s some really cool stuff there.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve bounced between a number of different Windows apps and things are finally starting to settle. I’d still prefer to be using Linux, but at least I’m functional now. 🙂 Any suggestions for cool work-related apps welcome.



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

9 thoughts on “Discovering More Work-Related Windows Apps…”

  1. Greenshot is now my favourite screen capture tool.
    Love MobaXTerm too. It’s not on the approved list at work, but it runs nicely from a USB

  2. Hi Tim,

    MobaXterm is great piece of software. I’ve been searching for similar application for a while but never found anything to stick with more then few weeks. I will certainly give MobaXterm a try.

    There is always good old Putty+Cygwin combination if I find MobaXterm slightly difficult to use.


  3. Gary: I’ll try it.

    Marko: Putty and Cygwin are fine, but I would be surprised if you don’t find MobaXterm a whole lot easier. 🙂



  4. After moving to PuTTY and Xming quite a few years ago I haven’t looked around for anything else.

    Following your suggestion though I’ve just tried MobaXterm and it looks great – everything in one place. Probably worth stumping up EUR 49 too (v cheap compared to what I once paid for Exceed!).

    Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. +1 for NotePad++ too, everytime.

    I spent a lot of time mucking about with different SSH and X clients, eventually settled on good old PuTTY and XMing.
    There was something about the non-standard interface to Mobaxterm which bugged me. YMMV 🙂
    You might want to check Putty Tray too, I’ve dredged that up from my old bookmarks. And PuttyCyg aw well.
    And pimp up your putty sessions :

    Check out the Sysinternals suite from Microsoft for some sweet (sorry) tools, particularly ProcExp and ProcMon.

    Few others to check out:
    – bginfo
    – XMLNotepad
    – WinMerge
    – TortoiseSVN
    – SnagIt (poor on the Mac, great on Windows)
    – If you’ve more than one monitor, DisplayFusion is great.

  6. I have a SnagIt windows license and therefore get to use it on my MacBook for free. I agree. Awesome on Windows. Mediocre on Mac.



  7. One that I often see advertised is vnc, but I’ve found it often messes up the fonts in the entry fields of OUI, truncating them.
    I’ve never had a problem with Cygwin, although it can be quirky to install, The upside is that nowadays it’s like a unix VM inside Windows: love to be able to write Windows scripts in ksh! 😀

Comments are closed.