Hi I've got a windows PC in which I'd want to turn into a X Terminal ... got XMing server running to handle my X11. I can ssh into my Ubuntu desktop over SSH (With X11 forwarding) and successfully foward X11 applications like XTerm && XClock etc to my windows. Any way I can get ligthDM to send a complete session to my Windows? Trying to avoid using VNC ...

  • You can, but it will be slow. IMO, over ssh, forward a panel. If you want a fast, secure connection use FreeNX. You do not need lightdm to forward a desktop, you simply start a desktop rather then XTerm ssh -XfC -c blowfish user@server xfce4-session switch xfce4-session to the DE of choice (fluxbox, openbox, lxde). People often use a light weight DE and/or disable background images to save on bandwidth (speed up ssh). No real need to forward background images, the background image has to be updated every time you move a window.
    – Panther
    Feb 21, 2015 at 16:30
  • @bodhi.zazen Could you please convert that to an answer so that schmucks like me who go around hunting for unanswered questions don't have to look at this one any more. ;-) (And I'll upvote if you drop me a note and it's a good one too!) A
    – Fabby
    Feb 22, 2015 at 7:14
  • @Fabby - Done take a look
    – Panther
    Feb 22, 2015 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


SSH is a tool that is very good at some things such as forwarding single programs or, with firefox for example, ports, transferring data, running or managing remote servers.

Forwarding an entire desktop is not one of them however. It can be done mind you, but performance will be slow.

If you connect via ssh, you have already authenticated (logged into the system) so there is no need for lightdm. You can start a session by starting you desktop environment.

ssh -XfC -c blowfish user@server xfce4-session

Change xfce4-session to the DE or WM of choice. Light weight desktops without a lot of effects are going to perform much better then Unity and/or 3d effects / transparency.

Other options are fluxbox, openbox, lxde ...

That command will log in (via ssh) and start xfce on your XMing server. The options -X forwards X, -f puts ssh in the background, and -c uses compression which speeds things up somewhat. Performance is acceptable over a LAN for example (although slower then FreeNX or spice).

see man ssh or http://bodhizazen.com/Tutorials/SSH_overview#Options

Options to improve performance over ssh are to run a panel rather then the entire desktop. You can then start applications graphically if you wish.

You can also use a color, rather then an image, for the background. If you use an image, ssh has to constantly re-send the information when you move windows for example.

If you wish to use a desktop, use a "modern" VNC server. FreeNX is cross platform and is both secure and fast. FreeNX (NomachineNX) is, for example, fast enough to stream music over "the internet" while running a desktop.

See https://help.ubuntu.com/community/NomachineNX

Other potential options include using a web based application to manage your server such as webmin (there are other specialized interfaces) or a web based connection (several web services are available for example - http://showmypc.com/

If you are using virtual machines, spice is a cross platform server/client that is also quite fast.

  • Good man!!! ;-)
    – Fabby
    Feb 22, 2015 at 14:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.