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X-windows is a method for running programs remotely on a Unix/Linux system, especially programs with a graphical user interface (e.g. windowing programs).    It's also know as X11 or simply "X."

The program MobaXterm available for Windows includes all the functionality you need to run X11 software on windows.  We now strongly recommend you install MobaXterm instead of Xming  Please see iCER Workshops: Set Up Instructions for detailed instructions. 


If you would like to install something other than MobaXterm to use XWindows (X11) on the MSU HPCC, you may follow these instructions for XMing.   A related video tutorial can also be found here: Video Tutorial - XMing

Make sure you have successfully logged into HPCC at least once before trying this tutorial. The reason for this is that the first time you log into HPCC your password gets imported from the main MSU password server. For some reason, this special case causes Xming to not prompt correctly for a password.

Two programs are needed to run HPCC applications in X on your local machine: ssh client and and X Server. For this tutorial we will show you how this is done using PuTTY and Xming.

We have chosen Xming and PuTTY as easy opensource (free) solutions.

  • First, download Xming from the program's website Select and download Xming in the "Public Domain Releases" table. When this tutorial was written the current version was and it can be downloaded directly from here.
  • Second, run the installer and follow the standard install options. The following screenshots are provided as a reference (click on the pictures for a larger view). NOTE If you don't have PuTTY installed, Xming will do it for you. If you already have it you can choose the option "Don't install an SSH client" in the third screenshot.

At this point you should have a running X-server and you should see the Xming logo in the system tray (next to the clock). This X logo tells you that you have a running X-server and it is ready to connect using an ssh program (such as PuTTY). Any local ssh program should work as long as X11 tunneling is enabled. For this tutorial we will show how to connect using the XLanch program supplied with Xming.

  • First, run XLanch program from your start menu. You can follow the setting presented in the screenshots below (click on the pictures for a larger view):

  • Next, you want to select "Using PuTTY" in the "Run Remote" section and type in as the remote computer together with your username (not mine):

  • As a final step, I suggest that you save your settings in a file called hpcc.xlaunch. You will be able to just click this icon in the future and it will use all of your settings.
  • Type in your password and you are done!
  • This is the xterm window running on hpcc.
  • You can now use any X command. For example, you can log into the intel14 node by typing 'ssh dev-intel14' and then start Matlab by typing 'matlab &' from the xterm. You should then see a fully interactive matlab GUI:


Running any X-server from off campus can be very slow depending on your connection speed.

More commands

You can type any of the following in your xterm window to open up new programs:

  • 'xterm &'
  • 'gedit &'
  • 'gvim &'

The and symbol '&' at the end of a command tells the terminal to run the command and do not wait for the command to finish. This lets you keep using the terminal at the same time as your new command.


If you have having issues getting XLaunch to work, please try reviewing Xming's Xlaunch Failure known issue page.