It turns out that Windows X11 servers are actually pretty sane: they can work with a separate SSH client. I thought that Exceed, the X server installed in Balliol, would require use of its own SSH client, which is broken here, but in fact it works straight away with PuTTY.

Of course Cygwin is the obvious choice for this. Haven’t touched that piece of software for years. Perhaps overkill for my purposes though and no use here in Balliol.

It just so happens that this issue came up on the SDF bbs today, where several other fantastic solutions came up:


—SSH, telnet, a simple bash shell and an X11 server all in one portable exe. Free of charge, but unfortunately non-free. Based on Cygwin I think.


Seems to be the easiest way to go for something more minimal than the above.

It is interesting how my attitude towards GNU/Linux has changed in my recent forays into these plans. It’s basically UNIX I want to do my work. I run GNU/Linux on my own machines for philosophical reasons, but these seem to be coming second to pure practicability. It is also surprising that I had not really realised just how good networked X11 is; even though I knew the details and have used it before, I have been pleasantly surprised by these recent investigations. It’s basically cos of all the old academics using this sort of software, I guess.

It also failed to occur to me that the whole point of this is that your local memory is eaten up by displaying things, so it’s quite easy to run these things remotely on a low-memory VPS or something.