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Microsoft

logo.png

 

 

 

In this post I will demonstrate how to run Linux GUI (Graphical User Interface) applications on Windows Desktop platform.

 

For now, it is necessary to install a third-party App to run the GUI Apps, but Microsoft announced on //build 2020 that they will release soon an improvement that will not require any third-party component to run Linux GUI Apps on Windows Desktop.

 

Pre-requirements:

  • Windows 10
  • WSL

 

If you want to know how to install WSL on Windows 10, please check the following post:

 

logo.pngUsing WSL2 in a Docker Linux container on Windows to run a Minecraft Java Server

 

 

Installing the X Server

The X server is a provider of graphics resources and keyboard/mouse events. I am using the VcXsrv Windows X Server that is open-source and is frequently update.

 

The first step is to install the third-part display manager called VcXsrv Windows X Server available at:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/vcxsrv/

 

During setup is important to disable the access control to avoid the permission denied error when trying to run a GUI application:

 

VcXsrv disable access control 2.png

 

 

To warranty that the “Disable access control” will be always checked, save the configuration and always launch VcXsrv using the configuration file (config.xlaunch):

 

VcXsrv disable access control.png

 

The next step is to set the DISPLAY environment variable on Linux to use the Windows host's IP address as WSL2 and the Windows host are not in the same network device. It is necessary to run the following bash command to load the correct IP address on launch:

 

 

export DISPLAY="`grep nameserver /etc/resolv.conf | sed 's/nameserver //'`:0"

 

 

Running the following command, it is possible to see that the $DISPLAY environment variable now has the Windows Host’s IP set:

 

 

Echo $DISPLAY

 

 

display.png

 

 

To avoid having to run that command every time that WSL is launched, you can include the command at the end of the /etc/bash.bashrc file:

 

export display.png

 

Done! Now you can run the Linux GUI Apps on Windows desktop.

 

 

Let’s try this out!

 

Follows some Apps that you can use to test:

 

Install Chromium Dev :

 

 

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:saiarcot895/chromium-dev
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

 

 

Install GEDIT:

 

 

sudo apt install gedit
gedit

 

 

Install x11-apps:

 

 

sudo apt install x11-apps
xeyes
xcalc

 

 

Make sure that XLaunch is running and before calling the Linux GUI Apps on Windows Desktop environment.

 

apps running.png

 

run gui apps wsl.gif

 

 

 

What about accessing the Linux Desktop Environment via RDP?

 

The first thing that you need to do is to install a Linux Desktop Environment. I will user Xfce as it is a lightweight one.

 

Run the following commands to install Xfce:

 

 

sudo apt install xfce4

 

 

The next step is to install the xrdp that provides a graphical login to remote machines using RDP (Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol).

 

 

sudo apt install xrdp

 

 

Type the following command to get the WSL IP address:

 

 

ip a

 

 

ip addr.png

 

 

Make sure that xrdp service is running:

 

start xrdp.png

 

 

Run the Remote Desktop Client (MSTSC) and type the WSL IP address to connect to xfce4:

 

mstsc.png

 

 

 

Done! Now you can access your favorite Linux IDE on WSL.

 

wsl rdp.png

 

wsl rdp 3.gif

 

 

 

In this post we see how to run GUI Linux Apps using XServer on Windows Desktop environment and how to access the full WSL Linux desktop environment.

 

I hope you liked!

 

 

6 Comments
MVP

I encountered an error after referencing this article.

 

(gedit:10261): Gtk-WARNING **: 15:32:39.217: cannot open display: 172.21.16.1:0

Microsoft

Thank you for the feedback Fan Su.

If you are using both the approaches described here, i.e., using XServer and xfce4, probably gedit is already opened in the xfce4. Please switch to xfce4 and close the opened Apps or do a sign out to close the Apps. Please let me know if it helped. 

Super Contributor

When I saw the first picture, I thought it is Windows NT or older version of Windows.

I believe know, Linux users could just work inside Windows.

However, be very careful about security because in this case vulnerabilities in Linux could affect Windows , so be careful and make sure you always have the latest update.

MVP

Thank you @luisdem .I  have tried to access via xrdp but log in with an account password and automatically exit.I  think I gave up.

Microsoft

@Fan Su please don't hesitate to send me a step-by-step so I can try to help you. :)

I faced this once, but for me this happened because I forgot some Apps opened in the xrdp session. :(

By your error message, I am assuming that the $DISPLAY environment variable is correctly set, as it has a value. Other thing that you could try to do, is to restart the XLauncher App.

 

I hope that it helps!

Best Regards! Luis

MVP

@luisdem , Thank you a lot. I've reinstalled the VcXsrv and it's working now. But there are still some minor problems, such as network access failures

Snipaste_2020-07-03_17-51-40.png

 

However, RDP login still has a problem, enter the account password will be ejected and no error message.