How to run Linux desktop apps on Windows

You all knew it was coming! YES YOU DID!

When the news broke that Canonical and Microsoft were bringing Ubuntu to Windows 10, the official reason is that it was all about porting the Bash shell to Windows. I predicted that, while a Linux shell was great, we'd soon see "people trying to port all Linux userspace programs, including desktops, to Windows." I was right.

A few days after Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) was released, hackers were bringing Linux graphical apps to Ubuntu on Windows.

The first thing you need to do, after installing WSL and Ubuntu, is to add an X Window server to Windows. The one I used was Xming X Server for Windows. Ubuntu on Windows doesn't currently come with a native X server or Ubuntu's own X replacement, Mir. Xming is a Linux cross-compiled server based on the X.org code for Microsoft Windows. It's meant primarily to securely run, via ssh, remote Linux and Unix X Window applications, but it works fine as a local X server as well. 

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