How to run Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 in Bash

With the recently released Windows 10 build 14316, which is part of the upcoming Anniversary Update, Microsoft introduced a new Linux command line shell "bash" to Windows. It allows running console Linux apps. Microsoft claims that the Linux subsystem is a native implementation which makes it faster than any virtual machine. But unlike a Linux virtual machine instance, the bash console of Windows 10 doesn't allow you to run Linux GUI apps out-of-the-box. Here is how to bypass this limitation so you can run X server graphical apps.

On Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems, there is an X windowing system which provides the basic framework for a GUI environment. There is a third party Win32 (desktop) app for Windows called Xming X Server. It implements an X server session inside the Windows operating system. Once you install it, you can tell Ubuntu Bash to use it as the primary X display. Here is how.

How to run Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 in Bash

  • Point your browser to the following page and download Xming X Server for Windows.
  • Download and install the app, which has version 6.9.0.31 as of this writing.
  • Start the Xmin X Server app. It will appear in the notification area (system tray).
  • Now, open Bash on Ubuntu as described HERE and install some GUI app. For example, let's try with the lightweight "Galculator" app, which is just a GTK+ calculator.
    Type the following command:
    apt-get install galculator

    You will be prompted to install additional packages. Type Y to confirm and wait till everything is downloaded and installed.

  • Now, to launch the Galculator app, type the following:
    DISPLAY=:0 galculator

Voila, you have a Linux calculator app running on your Windows 10 computer.

That's it! Credits for this trick go to this reddit.

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4 thoughts on “How to run Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 in Bash

  1. butwho

    I installed Xming fonts but still cannot display Unicode characters correctly… Try https://www.wikipedia.org/ in a browser.

    Reply

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