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Introduction to the MobaXterm Remote Access Utility

Remote display of Linux GUIs


One of the key functions of MobaXterm is the ability to log in to a remote Linux server from your local Microsoft Windows machine and run programs with graphical user interfaces.

With MobaXterm this can be done with these few simple steps:

  • Download the MobaXterm executable (MobaXterm.exe). The home version is free.
  • Place this executable in a folder where you can find it when you need it. No installation is required.
  • Double-click on the executable to start the program. It will open a terminal window and start an X-server to enable remote graphical displays. Initially, the system seems a little slow responding to commands, but that problem goes away after it runs for a while.
  • Use the secure shell ssh to connect to the remote Linux system you want to work on. For example, type "ssh lxserver3@mydomain.com" if the URL of the server is "lxserver3@mydomain.com", and hit return. It my ask you to enter your password to complete the login procedure. If you enter the wrong user name, cancel the login process with "Ctrl-c", and try again.
  • Once your are logged in, you can fire off programs that use graphical user interfaces based on the X-windows system. For example, entering "xterm" will start a xterm terminal window, from which you can launch other programs. In general it is a good idea to start such programs in the "background" using the ampersand (&) parameter so that the terminal can be used for other commands. For example, to start xterm in the background enter "xterm &". This "DISPLAY" variable on the remote system is set by MobaXterm so that graphical user interfaces are displayed on your local (MS Windows) machine.
  • Before you log in to the remote system using ssh, you can run some local Windows programs at the MobaXterm command line. For example, you can use the "ipconfig" command to display the IP address of your computer.
  • Optionally, you can create a shortcut to streamline future remote server connections. To do this, use the "Bookmarks" menu option, select "Manage my bookmark", click "Create", enter the requested information, and click the "Create a desktop shortcut to this bookmark" button.

Using the "Remote XDMCP Session" option you can project the desktop environment defined for the remote Linux system in a single window on your local Windows machine and work as if you were sitting at the remote computer.

You can easily transfer files to and from the remote Linux system. After you make the connection using ssh, a file browser is displayed on the right side of the terminal window showing the files and directories on the remote system. You can drag-and-drop files from the file browser to your local Microsoft Windows Explorer and vice versa. Unfortunately, there is no process indicator showing the status of the transfer for large files.

MobaXterm can run up to four terminal sessions simultaneously. Using the "Terminal splitting options" toolbar button, you can select to display up to four terminal windows side-by-side. If you select single window mode, you can switch between the different terminal sessions using the tabs.

Under "Settings/Configuration" menu option, you can find some cool display settings. You can choose from a variety of skins, or make the terminal window partially transparent. You can also customize fonts and background color.

MobaXterm provides a number of other useful and fun programs. This includes several editors, such as nedit and VIM, as well as math tools, and an ASCII table. A few games are included as well.

Many of the terminal functions provided by MobaXterm are similar to those implemented in PuTTY, however, MobaXterm has the X-server integrated and does not require additional software to display graphics, such as Xming or Hummingbird Exceed.

A more powerful alternative, although a little more involved to set up, is the VNC server and client software.

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