I setup an SSH server in my windows 10 PC using MobaSSH Server. I then connected to it using another windows 10 PC using MobaXterm SSH Client (through a local user account in the server). X11-Forwarding is configured on both server and client.

I wanted to access a .txt file in my server. So in the Xterm SSH Client terminal, I moved to the corresponding directory and tried the command:

notepad xyz.txt

I was expecting the notepad application in the server to open in my terminal. But nothing happened. The terminal looked frozen. Had to apply Ctr+C to exit out. I tried Putty with X11 forwarding. Still didn't work.

Is it not possible to access server's windows applications through this method ??? I found success with Linux's SSH server. I could open applications like gvim. But in case of Windows, its not working. Is there any other way?


Windows does not use X11 for its graphical interface, so it's natural that X11 forwarding would not work.

(However, you can use this for X11-based programs that were ported from Linux and are running through Cygwin, or Interix, or through Windows Subsystem for Linux. Basically, if a program would need Xwin/Xming, then it would work with X11 forwarding too.)

There is no option for running native Windows graphical programs directly through SSH – instead you need to connect using either "Remote Desktop" (mstsc) or various third-party programs like VNC.

(In general, noticeable difference is that Remote Desktop attaches to a specific user's desktop in exclusive mode, while third-party programs instead attach to the whole screen in shared/mirrored mode.)

Remote Desktop can also be configured for RemoteApp, which allows connecting to individual apps (multi-window) instead of the whole desktop. It doesn't require Windows Server, but it does require each app to be pre-configured for this.

Unfortunately I haven't heard of any Windows programs which would intercept individual windows and "forward" them through X11, but it would certainly be cool.

  • 1
    Hmm...Thanks for the info. Was experimenting. Thought it would be cool if I can run some big programs like MATLAB through SSH from the server ;-( – Meenie Leis May 30 '19 at 18:33

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