Mobaxterm vs Xming: Remote Connections to Redhat 5.5


Putty, Sqlplus, and Cygwin:

I’m often working with my laptop. And I use putty and sqlplus to connect to the server. They both work fabulous! First time, every time. Do exactly as they are told. No surprises. Very reliable. And you can do most everything that you need to do.

I’ve also used cygwin for years, and have it installed on all my Windows machines. Although the cygwin installation could use improvement. Such as a button for: Install every last thing! Currently, installing everything requires a LOT of mouse clicks!

It’s such a pleasure to work with software that works right out of the box.   No wonder I use putty,  sqlplus, and cywin so much.

X Windows:

Recently I figured I would just install some X Windows software to connect to the 64 bit Redhat 5.5 Linux server. Shouldn’t take long. Yeah right.

A few queries told me that XMing (with XLaunch) seem to be the most popular X Windows software. So I downloaded and installed Xming. But it just wouldn’t work. After many tries. Sometimes I got a black blank screen. But never a login prompt.  Bizarre!

Pre-Requisite: Linux Server Must Be Configured First:

Intuitively, I suspected that perhaps the Redhat box needs to be configured first to accept the connections. Similar to the listener to a database needs to be running before you can connect. After many searches, I discovered, that my hunch was correct. Why is this not mentioned in the docs?

There were two great webpages that I came across on how to configure the Linux server.

http://www.idevelopment.info/data/Unix/Linux/LINUX_ConfiguringXDMCPRedHatLinux.shtml
1289 words

https://forums.oracle.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=2172041&tstart=0&messageID=9373274#9373274
94 words

Clear. Concise. To the point. And it works! (But unfortunately not for XMing.)

Oracle Forums seem to get archived. And just in case Jeff Hunter ever stops hosting his website, I’ll recite the relevant points here:

————–

configure the file:
/etc/gdm/custom.conf

Add these entries:

[xdmcp]
Enable=true

[security]
DisallowTCP=false
AllowRemoteRoot=true

Run the GUI: gdmsetup
Go to tab: Remote
Dropdown style.
Set to: same as local

Go to tab: security
Enable:
Allow local system administrator login
Allow remote system administrator login

Jeff notes that you avoid rebooting the server with:
init 3
init 5
/usr/sbin/gdm-restart

But I always reboot just to be sure.

Thanks Jeff for such fabulous docs. I was going to leave a comment, but you don’t have this enabled.

————-

Zack on the Oracle Forum says:

In Linux, /etc/ssh, modify sshd_config with :
X11Forwarding yes
X11DisplayOffset 10
X11UseLocalhost yes

I did these as well.

mobaxterm:

But no matter how many blogs and websites I went to, and instructions I tried, XMing just didn’t work.

Finally I gave up and downloaded mobaxterm. It installed in a few mintues. It was intuitively obvious to connect. No documentation or reading required. There was only one screen to enter data in, similar to putty.  And it worked perfectly fine. That’s what software is supposed to do.

mobaxterm

What more could you ask for? Well it turns out that mobaxterm also has a whole lot more for the PC. Games. Utilites. Cool.

Interestingly enough, mobaxterm seems fully self contained. Like putty, you just unzip the file, and double click it to start using it. No installation that modifies the Windows registry.

Mobaxterm is highly recommended.

Unimpressed with XMing:

Again, as part of my few reviews on software, and poor or non existent documentation, the official docs for Xming have 3500 words!!!!
http://www.straightrunning.com/XmingNotes/

But the Xming docs say absolutely nothing on configuring the Linux server! Why is something this important, not mentioned at all?

To be fair, I also can’t find anything on the official website for mobaxterm.  Hey guys, those prerequisites are important! Document them!

Putty: I had already installed putty and was connecting fine with it, when I decided to install the software for Xming. What I noticed is that most all XMing documents talk about configuring putty first. Which I did. Is Xming not a self contained program? It’s not clear if putty is a prerequisite for Xming. Is it? Or not? If so, why is it not in the documentation?

And, to login to the remote server, why does Xming need five screens to login, while mobaxterm requires only one?

But, even though I do exactly what the docs say, I never get a login prompt. Not even a screen. All other variations of login attempts also fail. But I never get a meaningful error message!

And, why are there so many ways to login? What is the basic way?

Back to work:

One of my characteristics is that I’m very persistent in overcoming pesky little tech issues. So I’m left thinking, what are the secrets to get Xming to work? Do you know? If so, please respond with very clear instructions. Including ALL the fundamental prerequisites.  In a few dozen words or less.

In the meantime, mobaxterm rocks!

Update – November 2013:

This year, I installed Redhat 6.4 on my server.  This week I went to connect to it with MobaXterm 4, using the above instructions.

Unfortunately, the instructions didn’t work completely. The reason, Redhat 6.4 no longer has the utility, gdmsetup. Nor is it possible to download the package. Surprise! Again.

Should I write a blog post on this kind of thing: software updates or upgrades rendering all your previous work and knowledge base obsolete? Requiring that you develop it all over again. How’s that for efficiency?

I emailed the good folks at MobaXterm, and got the solution soon enough.  Here it is.

In addition to upgrading Redhat to 6.4, upgrade MobaXterm to 6.6. When creating a session:
– click on the “New session” button
– Choose “SSH” session type
– Enter your “remote host” name or IP address
– check “specify username” box and enter your login
– In the advanced settings (just below), you will see a “remote environment” field. Choose the “Gnome desktop” entry and save

Then connect. It works great!

Thanks MobaXterm!

BTW, this is just my home server with non critical data on it. In production environments, you may not want to allow full remote desktop sessions at all.

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6 Responses to Mobaxterm vs Xming: Remote Connections to Redhat 5.5

  1. Hi Rodger and everyone!

    Thank you very much for what you said about MobaXterm. Here at Mobatek (MobaXterm editor), we worked hard on this app, so we really appreciate when we read stories about people who enjoy using MobaXterm!

    About your Xming question, I am sorry but as I do not use it often, I can not say why it did not work for you ^_^ … However about MobaXterm documentation, I can say that it is available from here: http://mobaxterm.mobatek.net/support/documentation.html (or you can go to the “documentation” menu from our website http://mobaxterm.mobatek.net ). It is short, because the aim of our product is to be easy to use, intuitive and to require no documentation at all, but it can be of some help in particular cases (when you need to go further with MobaXterm advanced features).

    Thank you Rodger, I hope that your article will introduce MobaXterm to a lot of users and I hope that everyone will enjoy using it! Do not hesitate to give us your feedback!


    Mobatek team
    http://mobaxterm.mobatek.net

  2. kranskydog says:

    Hi Roger

    Whilst I am also a convert to MobaXterm, I do not think Xming is as hard as you are making out.

    First and foremost, Xming is just an X Server, (so when you ask ‘Is Xming not a self contained program?’ I think you are not understanding what Xming actually does – if you are not using XDMCP, it relies on putty in the same way that MobaXterm relies on OpenSSH). Therefore, before you do anything, you need to make sure the Xming server is running on your PC.

    Then connect to your server via Putty, making sure it is an ssh session, and under ‘Connection->SSH->X11′ check ‘Enable X11 Forwarding’. This will then use SSH X-Forwarding the same way that MobaXterm does.

    When you connect to your Linux host, doing

    echo $DISPLAY

    should give you something like

    localhost:10.0

    This is set up by SSH as a tunnel back to your DISPLAY on your PC

    If you don’t get something back, it would be because your sshd config has X11-Forwarding disabled

    Re XDMCP

    Per http://www.straightrunning.com/XmingNotes/IDH_XDMCP.htm
    “This mode is the most problematic, is not secure, and usually requires altering of the remote machine’s settings.”

    All XDMCP gives you is the ability to login remotely to a host (including being presented with a list of available hosts which allow logging in via XDMCP) and be presented with an X Desktop, as though you were logging in to the console. If all you want to do is run X Clients and have them displayed on your local X Server, ssh x-forwarding is the simplest (and most secure) way to do it.

    regards

    Phil

    P.S. if you are doing anything Oracle related with Xming, make sure you install the fonts as well – there is a well known problem with DBCA if you are missing the fonts

  3. rodgersnotes says:

    Thanks Phil. Perhaps these will help another poor soul.

    However, when you think of it, why does Xming require so much reading and an education? But Mobaxterm just installs, works, is totally intuitive, and requires reading no docs at all?

    Check out another one of my posts with more thoughts:
    Why Is Your Software Such Crap?
    http://rodgersnotes.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/why-is-your-software-such-crap/

    Best

  4. Xming suffers from more than just a lack of good documentation. Xming–at least, the freeware release of Xming–is old. There are updates released occasionally, but they are not free.

    If the Linux you want to connect to is on your LAN, speed probably is not an issue. But if you need graphical access to a Linux that’s out on the internet, you will probably find that Xming is very slow.

    Mobaxterm is much faster. Applications such as Cleo Versalex or Mendelson Open Source AS2 are much quicker and more responsive when accessed with Mobaxterm.

    Mobaxterm also comes in both free and non-free versions. But freeware Mobaxterm omits nothing that is essential for most users.

  5. Pathduck says:

    I mostly use WinSCP+Putty+XMing, since it’s free and you can have as many sessions as you’d like. Mobaxterm, while a great product, is limited to 10 saved sessions for fre (I think), which simply wouldn’t work for me at work.

    Mobaxterm works ‘out of the box’ while XMing is a bit more fiddly, but I think you learn more about how X works using it, than Moba. Depends what you are interested in I guess :)

  6. Peter Tierno says:

    Mobaxterm is a great piece of software. also. typically with most linux distros there is no x server setup off the bat for a non desktop build.

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