Programming from Home

If you want to be able to use CS lab applications remotely from your home instead of going to the labs, an X-Server will help you do this.

Needed Applications

Download and Install Cygwin from this website:

Once downloaded, run the setup program with all the default selections. Find the optional package "xfree86" and click the word "default" to say "install". This may take a while as it downloads the software from the Internet according to the chosen packages. Total installation size seems to be about 225MB.

If you don't already have SecureCRT installed, get it at

Now that both applications are installed, create a new session in SecureCRT. Choose a hostname to one of the emperor machines like "" where ## is a number between 1 and 60, or simply type for the currently least stressed machine.

In this new session, choose the SSH1 protocol, enter the selected emperor hostname, and your username. In the left column, click "X11" under "Port Forwarding". Place a checkmark in the box that reads "Forward X11 Packets".

Making it all Work

Now start the Cygwin application. You'll get something that looks like a DOS window. Type "startx" and hit enter. You'll get a rudimentary x-windows system.

Now start your new SecureCRT session that was created with X11 packet forwarding. In this SecureCRT session, type "mozilla" and hit enter.

A Test

Then return to the Cygwin session. Give it up to a minute (depending on the speed of your Internet connection), and you ought to have the Mozilla application running in Cygwin! This is software which is actually running remotely on the Emperor machine but is sending the X11 display packets back to your computer.

Using It

If you can do this successfully, you should also be able to run any other remote application by typing in its executable name in your SecureCRT session.


If you are using very graphic-intensive or CPU-intensive applications like Matlab, the delay may in fact be unbearable. This document only suggests a work-around for those small applications for which you are willing to wait.

To quit these applications, just close any open application windows in Cygwin, then type "exit" in the shell-windows inside Cygwin. Then in the Cygwin "DOS"-like window, type "exit" also, and it should all go away.

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Updated Tues Feb 22, 2005
Thanks to Paul Nagel for corrections and updating.