X Servers Overview

An X Server is a program that uses the X11 protocol to allow execution and interaction with graphical, windowed programs on a remote system. It is a program that runs on your computer
and routes the display of windows on a remote computer to your local computer. The backend of the program, including files, memory usage, and processor usage all affect the remote computer, but the display of the application is shown on the local computer.

Most programs on UNIX and Linux are X11 compatible (eg. xterm, emacs-X11, Matlab). So a person running an X Server such as x-win32 could use their Microsoft Windows PC to connect to one of
USC’s UNIX servers such as aludra.usc.edu and be able to launch emacs such that it would appear to be running on Windows. The only perceivable difference would be that the files emacs edits would be stored on aludra.usc.edu and not the windows machine.

Using X11 applications on a Sun workstation does not require any special tools because an X Server is built into the Solaris operating system. Running an X11 program on a Sun workstation just requires that you either type the command name into a terminal window, or that you click on the program’s icon. Running X11 programs on remote systems can be accomplished by using the ssh command.

X-Win32 is available in userlabs, and is available from software.usc.edu for home use on ResNet. X-Win32 only works on 128.125.*.* IP addresses, and is not licensed for VPN connections.