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.
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 email@example.com”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org”
- In some cases I still had to manually run “export DISPLAY=mypc.example.com:0.0” 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.