The title pretty much sums it up.

I am a PhD student working on computational modelling. I have a very powerful linux workstation at my desk. However, I sometimes work from the university library in a different campus where only windows 10 machines without admin rights are provided.

On a network mounted drive (labelled 'home drive' by our ICT department), I currently have a portable copy of mobaxterm, a single executable that bundles all standard unix coreutils, an SSH client, a seamless X11 server and the ability to install anything from the cygwin repos. It also has a graphical sftp browser for quick and easy file transfer.

This is useful in the following situation. For meetings with my PhD advisor in their office, they prefer to have discussions with slides/software on a large screen permanently hooked to their computer. To show them a graphical application running on my computer, I simply need to temporarily download just a single binary executable on their machine and SSH into mine to forward just the GUI.

Mobaxterm is indeed an amazing software brimming with features. In a single portable binary, they have packaged

  1. local terminal
  2. bash shell
  3. coreutils,
  4. gazillion remote connection protocols (SSH, RDP, VNC, ICA, Mosh etc.)
  5. seamless X-server that auto-starts with the right DISPLAY value set
  6. graphical SFTP browser, and
  7. package manager with access to the entire cygwin repo ecosystem

I am satisfied with this workflow, except the only drawbacks are

  1. the shipped busybox coreutils are quite outdated (eg. the bash shell is 4.1.x, whereas the latest one is 4.4.x as of Nov 2018)
  2. it is only a 32-bit binary executables (also 32-bit cygwin packages by default)
  3. shipped terminal doesn't support 24-bit truecolour
  4. terminal doesn't support vim cursor modes
  5. not open-source and no public interface to see the development, roadmap or features planned.

Is there anything suitable available out there?

  • Is Moba still sticking with Bash 4.1? That's what they had back in 2016. Maybe check with other questions where Mobaxterm is mentioned (e.g. using this search), as some other answer might fit? – Izzy Nov 30 '18 at 22:25
  • 1
    @Izzy Yes, moba still sticking with Bash 4.1. Luckily, the patch level they have accounts for shellshock. Plus, they use the old 32 bit cygwin setup. However, one got to admit that mobaxterm has carved a niche for itself. Packaging a 1.) local terminal, 2.) bash shell, 3.) coreutils, 4.) gazillion remote connection protocols, 5.) X-server and 6.) graphical SFTP browser, and finally, 7.) package manager with access to the entire cygwin repo ecosystem, all in a single portable binary!! even in the free version. Hats-off to them. – krishnakumar G Dec 1 '18 at 13:27
  • I always use it when forced to work on Windows. I'd have long bought it if it weren't a yearly subscription fee :( And indeed, the lack of 24bit color support in the terminal sometimes is annoying – though I love the highlighting of terms like "OK" (green), "warning" (yellow) and "error"/"failed" (red) :) OK (green), we're getting off-topic (red) =:-0 If you find something matching, a ping is welcomed :) – Izzy Dec 1 '18 at 14:16

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