Skip to content Skip to navigation

Tunneling X Windows Sessions with WinSSH

By Hanz Makmur - Oct 1, 2002

Laboratory for Computer Science Research - Rutgers University



Modified: Oct 21, 2002


These instructions will show you how to Tunnel X Windows traffic via WinSSH. Tunelling your connection via SSH allows you to bypass the Rutgers firewall block on REXEC command, and you also get encrypted connections between your computer and the host servers you are connecting to.


Software Requirement:

-         Microsoft Windows with TCP/IP connection

-         X Window Server software (Xfree86 part of Cygwin at (Freeware), Exceed (, or other.

-         WinSSH (Secure Shell and FTP Client 3.2.9 ) (Freeware)



Downloading and Installing WinSSH.


1. Download WinSSH by clicking on Secure Shell and FTP Client 3.2.9 with your browser. A window will open with a list of files. Drag SSHSecureShellClient-3.2.9.exe to your My Documents folder.


2.      Install WinSSH on your windows machine by double clicking the SSHSecureShellClient-3.2.9.exe file in your My Documents folder.



Tunelling X Sessions


1. Run your X Window Server program.


2. Run WinSSH. 3. An SSH window like Figure 1. will open.


Figure 1.


4. Click on the Edit menu and select Settings. A Settings window will open similar to Figure 2. Click on Tunneling and the settings window will look like Figure 2 below. Make sure you check the check box called: Tunnel X11 connections. Click the OK button when done.


Figure 2.


5.Click Quick Connect button of the default WinSSH window and a window like Figure 3. will open. Enter the host name of the host you are trying to connect to, and your username. Click the Connect button when done.


Figure 3.


6. If this is your first time connecting via SSH to the remote host, a window similar to that shown in Figure 4 will open with options to save your host key. Click the Yes button. If this is not your first time connecting to the remote host, you'll immediately get the login window. (Figure 5.)


Figure 4.


7.A window shown in Figure 5 will open asking you for your password. Enter your password and click the OK button.


Figure 5.


8. Assuming you entered the correct Username and Password pair, you will see the system prompt in the SSH Window, in this case remus%


9. At this time, the SSH tunnel for X Windows session is already established. To verify this, type: printenv DISPLAY at the prompt. You should get localhost:11.0 back.


remus% printenv DISPLAY




If you get a no answer, check to make sure you did step 4 correctly and that you remembered to run the Xwindow Server software first. (Step 1.)


10. To run any of your XWindows client program, all you have to do is type them as you would regularly. For example, if you would like to run xterm, you type xterm or /usr/openwin/bin/xterm. You will notice now that an Xterm window will open in a separate window using your previously idle X Window server manager.


This concludes the steps needed to Tunnel X Windows Sessions with WinSSH. If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk