The Linux subsystem on Windows is an awesome piece of software. I’d been using Cygwin for years, and this completely replaced it in my daily dev-life.

However, it’s sometimes useful to be able to run apps with a GUI. My latest need was to install the Android Studio, if only for the SDK manager. I discovered that you can indeed run an X server on your Windows machine, which made me wonder: could I actually run KDE or XFCE on Windows??

You totally can!

Moreover, the thing is actually usable and seems to perform reasonably well! Even though it’s not widely mentioned as a supported thing, this blew my mind as per how much the whole “Windows Linux” is actually becoming a reality.

There still are some warning, since I don’t have a sound server running - but it’s working!


Install the Linux subsystem on your computer.


  1. Install an X server. I settled for Xming.
  2. Setup your DISPLAY environment variable to use :0. (add export DISPLAY=:0 into your .bashrc)
  3. Install whatever you want. Say, xfce, go sudo apt-get install xfce4.
  4. Start your X server (If you have issues with the windowed option, try restarting Xming with full screen).
  5. Start xfce (startxfce4) from your subsystem terminal
  6. Smile!