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Cygwin XFree86

Cygwin/XFree86 is a port of XFree86 to the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems. XFree86 is a freely redistributable open-source implementation of the X Window System. The X Window System, is the de facto standard graphical engine for the UNIX and Linux operating systems and provides the only common windowing environment bridging the heterogeneous platforms in today's enterprise computing

This package is distributed as a package in cygwin. During installation, you may select the X11 to make the minimum installation.

Launching Cygwin XFree86

After the minimum installation, you may start the X Window System by typing the following in a bash shell.


The X Window System will be started with a xterm terminal. Please note that there a X icon in the system tray as well.

But the good thing is, even with the minimum installation, you can remotely login to a Unix workstation from you PC as shown in the picture below. You will get the exact user interface as if you are sitting in front of a Unix workstation.

Make sure you have a high speed connection for this. To make use of XFree86, you need to issue the following command in a bash shell

xwin -screen 0 1152 864 -query hostname &

To connect to a machine running Solaris 8, you will have to specify the font server as well.

xwin -screen 0 1152 864 -query hostname -fp tcp/hostname:7100 &

Cygwin XFree86 - WindowMaker

Cygwin Window Maker is a window manager that runs on top of Cygwin/XFree86 to give you something a lot better than the Cygwin default Window Manager, twm. You may install this package in addition to the minimum Cygwin/XFree86.

WindowMaker has very strict requirement for Unix text file requirement. Thus, the drive must be mounted in binary mode. To check whether your cygwin drives have been mounted in binary mode, issue the following command in a bash shell.


The output on my PC looks like the following

D:\Programs\Cygwin\usr\X11R6\lib\X11\fonts on /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts type system (binmode)
d:\programs\cygwin\bin on /usr/bin type system (binmode)
d:\programs\cygwin\lib on /usr/lib type system (binmode)
d:\programs\cygwin on / type system (binmode)
c: on /cygdrive/c type user (binmode,noumount)
d: on /cygdrive/d type user (binmode,noumount)

If your cygwin drives are not in binary mode, you may need to mount the drives in binary mode by issuing the following command in a bash shell.

mount -s -b -f d:/programs/cygwin /
When you start WindowMaker for the first time, it will create some files in the directory ~/GNUstep. This means you have to make sure ~/GNUstep is located in a directory that is mounted in binary mode. You may specify another location for the directory by issuing the following in a bash shell before launching WindowMaker. Alternatively, you may want to put this in your .bashrc file
export GNUSTEP_USER_ROOT=/usr/X11R6/config/GNUstep
Now you are ready to start the WindowMaker by the following commands,
export DISPLAY=localhost:0.0
xwin &
wmaker &

Cygwin XFree86 - Conclusions

In fact, I do not really use XFree86, I am not that unhappy with Windows after all. For logging into a remote Solaris workstation, I prefer to use Citrix. Citrix is very much faster. However, Citrix requires a MetaFrame server to be installed in the Solaris workstation. The MetaFrame server is not free.

Langkawi Sunset