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Pervasive Technology Institute

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XLiveCD

A CD based on Cygwin for X Windows forwarding via ssh

Overview

XLiveCD allows users of Microsoft Windows to connect to remote Unix computers, run graphical applications and have the graphics displayed on their desktops. The software runs from the CD without being installed. XLiveCD was prepared by University Technology Services to facilitate use of research Unix systems at Indiana University by Windows users on campus.

In the world of Windows, a wizard appears when the CD-ROM is inserted in a drive. The wizard presents a menu of reading documentation, running the X Server from the CD and installing the software to the hard drive. When the X server is run, a new window appears on the desktop. The window contains a command prompt that is used to connect to remote computers. It is possible to open up more command-line windows and use them to make more connections. When the user has finished and has closed all connections, the X server can be shut down by right-clicking an icon in the system tray.

In the parlance of Unix, an X server is run from the CD. A secure shell (ssh) client is included, and it is configured to allow by default forwarding of graphics from X11 applications. Users run the ssh client to connect to the remote machine, and X11 graphics are forwarded automatically from X applications that are run. The X server is that by X.org, and the ssh client is openssh.

The software is a set of Cygwin packages (http://www.cygwin.com) that have been installed and altered to run from CD, the Wizard's Apprentice (http://wizapp.sourceforge.net) and a few scripts that tie things together and provide the illusion that the XLiveCD is an application. Details are available in documentation that is provided on the CD.

Requirements and issues:

System Minimum
Recommended
Memory
Win XP SP2 512 MB
Win XP SP1, 2000, NT 256 MB
Win 98, Me 128 MB

XLiveCD does not run on Windows Vista. The X server on which XLiveCD is based is still unstable on Windows Vista. We will monitor the development of the server and release a new version of XLiveCD when the server has stabilized.

XLiveCD is not intended to be run on computers on which Cygwin is installed. If you choose to ignore that warning, be sure to click on "Read Documentation" when the wizard presents you with the option. Then, scroll to the bottom of the page, click on "How to run XLiveCD on systems on which Cygwin is installed", and read that page carefully.

Primary features:

  • X.org X server.
  • Openssh for connecting to remote computers and forwarding graphics.
  • Openssh secure copy and secure ftp for transferring files.
  • Utilities for converting plain text files between Unix LF format and DOS/Windows CRLF format.

Other useful features:

  • Many Unix utilities that are part of a default Cygwin install. Some examples include
    • awk data manipulation language,
    • bash shell,
    • grep pattern matching and
    • sed in-line editor.
  • bzip2 compression utilities
  • file type identification utility
  • perl
  • tcsh and pdksh shells
  • text file editors vim, nano, nedit
  • zip/unzip archive utilities

Performance

Software that runs from CD is always slower than installed software. Performance of XLiveCD should be acceptable for evaluating software that runs on Unix systems. It is probably acceptable for occasional use, and some will find that it is unacceptable for everyday use.

XLiveCD runs better on Windows XP/2000/NT systems than on Windows 98 systems. It can be a bit flaky on Windows 98 systems.

License

XLiveCD is built from open source software. The Cygwin environment includes many packages under many licenses. Cygwin libraries and most packages are under the GNU General Public License. The X server is under the X11 license. The Wizard's Apprentice is under its own open source license. Scripts written for XLiveCD are under the GNU General Public License. Documentation on the CD is is under the Open Publication License.

All packages on the CD disclaim all liability. As a derived work XLiveCD comes under the following terms.

You acknowledge that XLiveCD is a tool, provided free of charge, and as such it is only provided "as is". Copyright holder, its assigns, faculty, employees, and students have no obligation to assist you in its use, correction, modification, or enhancement and carry no obligation to provide any updates whatsoever. 

COPYRIGHT HOLDER MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS AND EXTENDS NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. THERE ARE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS OF XLIVECD FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR THAT THE USE OF XLIVECD WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY PATENT, COPYRIGHT, TRADEMARK, TRADE SECRET, OR OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS OF ANOTHER PARTY, OR ANY OTHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES. COPYRIGHT HOLDER WILL NOT BE LIABLE TO YOU, YOUR EMPLOYER OR ANY AFFILIATE OF YOU FOR ANY CLAIMS OR DAMAGES ARISING FROM YOUR USE OF OF XLIVECD, ANY CLAIM FOR ANY LOSS OR INTERRUPTION OF BUSINESS, OR FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND. 

The name Indiana University or "XLiveCD" shall not be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without written permission from Indiana University. For written permission, please contact Indiana University Research & Technology Corporation ("IURTC") at 351 West 10th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202. 

Products derived from this software may not be called "XLiveCD", nor may Indiana University appear in their name, without prior written permission of IURTC.

Brief instructions

  1. Place CD in drive and wait for wizard to appear.
  2. Select "Read documentation".
    • Read the documentation.
    • Dismiss the browser.
  3. Select the "Run X from CD" option that lists the appropriate number of buttons for your mouse, and wait for a terminal window to appear. The wait may be 30 to 70 seconds on some machines.
  4. Use the terminal window to run an ssh command that connects to a remote computer. Example: ssh myid@somecomputer.somewhere.edu  -- Enter your password when prompted.
  5. Run at will X applications on the remote computer.
  6. When finished, quit X applications and log off remote computer.
  7. Right-click the X icon in the system tray, and shut down the X server.
  8. Remove CD from drive.

Download ISO-9660 CD image

Additional information