I'd like to remote into my Linux (Ubuntu) desktop from a Windows desktop. Of course there is VNC, among others. The trick is that I just want to have a remote session without having any local screen sharing. In other words, when I type and move the mouse on the Windows computer, I don't want that activity to show up on the screen remote Linux system. The Linux box should just sit there at the login prompt or whatever it was doing prior to my remote login.

5 Answers 5


I used to use nx for this - you'd want to install freenx from the repositories or the 'official' free version of the nomachine server and use the client from the nomachine site to connect to it

In addition to outperforming VNC, it'll start up a seperate, optionally persistant remote access session

Alternately you could find a windows X client (i'd suggest mobaxterm ) and connecting over xdmcp.

  • "Alternately you could find a windows X client".. IMHO, this is the only solution that isn't stupid. For gods sake.. this is what x11 was designed to do. Jan 31, 2020 at 15:38

I'm aware of two ways you can do that:

  1. Install a VNC server on the Linux box which functions as or launches its own X server rather than puppeting the one attached to the main display.

  2. Install Cygwin/X or Xming (thanks, jcrawfordor) VcXsrv and use X11's network-transparent design to run your remoted applications locally. It's a little less obvious how to do it, but it'll let you mix local Windows apps and remote Linux apps in the same desktop as if they were all local Windows apps.

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  • 2
    I don't know what to say. I'm blown away! Linux applications in their own little windows sitting on my Windows desktop -- is there nothing that sweet, sweet baby can't do??
    – Kromey
    May 11, 2011 at 0:04
  • No need to use Cygwin for this - you only need an X server, and there's a native Windows option. This is a LOT lighter and easier to set up - Xming: sourceforge.net/projects/xming May 11, 2011 at 3:17
  • 1
    Thanks, @jcrawfordor. I've added it to my answer with credit in case future readers don't look at the comments.
    – ssokolow
    May 11, 2011 at 16:58
  • Yet another alternative: I've had some success with NX / FreeNX in place of VNC too. For a full remote desktop à la Windows Terminal Server (mstsc.exe), it is at least as simple to set up as VNC, and uses less bandwidth which can be a help over DSL (or dial-up). But if all you need is the X11 clients to display on your Windows machine, then yes, Xming plus PuTTY wins and is my go-to if I don't have a linux machine (or a VM already installed...)
    – mike
    Aug 14, 2013 at 11:23
  • This seems like a really cool thing. Only problem is I can only download version 6.9 while on the website they seem to be at 7 something but there is no download link.
    – AntonioCS
    Mar 23, 2014 at 11:13

If I've to connect from a Windows machine to a Linux one I usually use XRDP wich allows you to use the Windows RDP client.



If you use the Chrome web browser, you can use the Chrome Remote Desktop App It is probably the easiest way to do it.


A compatible Protocol & App needs to be available & running on both the sides - the client (Windows) and Server (Linux).

People will suggest a lot of apps & protocols and which is great, but if you want to do/ install minimal new services & apps just for easy use, do what I did and go with last way outlined below.

There are few ways to do this:

  • Install a compatible client & server on both sides. The options here are innumerable but this means having to install something new on both sides and make it work.
    A path of less activity/ installation & system changes is suggested below.

  • Use the default of one and add compatible on another:

    • Using Client Default (Windows: RDP) on Server (Linux):
      Install a Windows RDP compatible RDP/ Terminal Services (X-RDP) server on the Server (Linux). But from my recent experiences and reading that its not recently/ frequently updated it might not work with updated versions RDP clients on Windows

    • Using Server Default (Linux: VNC) on Client (Windows):
      Easiest is to install a VNC Client/ Viewer on Windows and access the Server. To make it even simpler I recently just downloaded a Portable version to avoid having to Install / Setup on Client machine.
      I wont list them all, but there's quite a few if you google for Portable VNC Viewer/ Client.
      One that I just used is call UltraUNC or UVNC

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