question FAQ

The surest way to get your problem solved is to post it on the mailing list or to file a bug


  • Microsoft Windows: which installer do I need to run?
  • This one. You do not need to install Xpra, NX or VNC, they are bundled in.
  • Mac OS X: which DMG do I need: PowerPC or x86? Do I need anything else?
  • Look in the apple menu in 'About your Mac'. Intel based Macs are known as 'x86', older Macs (G4 and G5) are 'PowerPC'.
    The DMG contains everything you need.
  • "symbol not found: _iconv" on Mac OS X Lion
  • There was a problem with Lion with versions below 0.12.4 inclusive
  • Linux Debian Packages (DEBs): which ones do I need?
  • The easiest way is to add the whole repository, as per the repository installation instructions, this will take care of installing the dependencies and updates automatically. If you install packages by hand, you will need to deal with the dependencies by hand too...
  • Linux RPM packages: which ones do I need?
  • The winswitch RPM is the only one you really need, however the Xpra RPM is highly recommended. The netifaces one is useful when dealing with firewalls and multi-homed networks - it is optional. (see below for a more detailed answer)
  • Linux RPM repository?
  • There is no RPM repository yet..
  • "no module named winswitch.client.client"
  • This can happen when installing broken packages or when mixing with an installation from source. Try removing all traces of the application and re-installing, first from the latest binary packages available, if this fails you may want to try installing from source
  • Xpra, NX, VNC, RDP, ssh X11...: which ones do I need to install? (ie: RPM or manual installation from source)
  • Ideally you should install all of them to be able to select the most appropriate protocol for your needs.
    At the very least you should install one seamless protocol (Xpra or NX) and one virtual desktop protocol (NX, VNC or RDP).
    The preferred/recommended protocols are: Xpra and VNC.
  • is it possible do run with a home directory mounted over NFS?
  • Yes, but since each instance must have a different identity, you must start WindowSwitch with a different preference directory, ie: WINSWITCH_HOME_DIR="$HOME/.winswitch-`hostname`" winswitch_applet
    Then, if using Xpra, you must also ensure that it does not try to store its sockets in the home directory (see the socket-dir Xpra option).

It doesn't work!

  • I get a GPG error: KEYEXPIRED 1273837137
  • Our original signing key had expired, you should import the new one (re-installing should solve this problem)
  • I cannot connect to a server
  • Is it running, is a firewall blocking it? Detailed help here
  • It says my password is incorrect!
  • There can be a number of reasons for this: assuming you have not mis-typed it (worth double checking and changing it to be sure), please ensure that the account is not locked, and that you can authenticate on this server manually.

    (on *nix, the pam service used is "login", run the 'winswitch/util/' utility to test)

  • I cannot start any applications! "session failed to start" or "the session has started, but it not responding" error messages
  • Detailed help here
  • I don't get all the application options, only some of them! (NX, Xpra, VNC, RDP, SSH...)
  • See here
  • Sound does not work
  • Please see here
  • I can't print, my local printer is not shown
  • Remote printing is currently disabled, the feature will be re-enabled soon
  • A lot of applications are missing from the menus, why is that?
  • We remove applications which are known to break when ran remotely, many KDE applications for example:
  • I click on the launcher item in the menu but nothing happens.
  • Please run the software from the command line to capture the output (on Linux).
    On Windows, there should be a log file named "applet.log" in Window Switch's "Application-Data" directory. (ie: C:\Documents and Settings\YOURUSER\ApplicationData\ for WindowsXP, C:\Users\YOURUSER\AppData\ for Vista onwards)
    If the problem isn't immediately obvious, let us know and we'll try to get your up and running quickly.

Server Detection / mDNS

For more information on mDNS, see here
  • My server is not automatically detected.
  • There can be many reasons for this, mainly: network configuration and firewalls.
    On *nix, avahi-discover presents you with the data that is being advertised on the network and will help you diagnose which part of the system is at fault.

    (here is a screenshot of a client which is able to detect 3 servers)

  • Servers aren't automatically detected over wireless links
  • Your network card or your router may be blocking the multicast packets which are used to automatically detect servers on the network. (see this discussion for more information)
  • My VMWare/VirtualBox/KVM/etc virtual machine does not detect any servers
  • Your virtual machine needs to be able to receive the multicast packets.
    It is best to use bridged networking rather than NAT or user-mode.

What is this?

  • My Windows firewall gives me a warning about Window Switch
  • If you want to be able to access the local display from other computers, you must allow them to access the VNC port (5900)
  • "RDP Session Failed. Cannot connect to ..., please ensure that the firewall is not blocking the 'Remote Desktop' port"
  • You must tell you Firewall to allow access to the 'Remote Desktop' port (3389), see here for more details
  • VNC crashes with XIO: fatal IO error 11 (Resource temporarily unavailable) on X server
  • This happens with RealVNC server, try using TigerVNC.
  • My CPU load goes through the roof!
  • This is a known bug in your system libraries (more info here), please ask your operating system vendor to apply the fix which is available
  • "SSH X11 Forwarding is Disabled - You may want to enable X11 display forwarding to allow remote users to start graphical X11 applications via SSH"
  • This means that your system configuration does not allow SSH X11 display forwarding. On Mac OS X, see here (
  • "no compatible protocols found"
  • This means that there is no overlap between the protocols supported by your client machine and the server you are connecting to. This is quite common when connecting to Windows machines, see here for more details.
  • "pygobject_register_sinkfunc is deprecated (gstobject)"
  • This warning comes from your python gstreamer libraries and is harmless, if you feel strongly about it you can complain to your distribution vendor
  • "importerror: no module named image"
  • The Python Imaging Library (aka "PIL", "python-imaging") must be installed

How do I...

  • Start an application via Window Switch?
  • Please see the quick start guide
  • Integrate into the regular start menu?
  • Please see start application in the manual
  • How can I make winswitch show in fluxbox's right click menu?
  • You will have to re-generate your own custom menu, this is how fluxbox works, see fluxbox-generate_menu
  • Customize the list of applications that the server provides? (the application shortcuts which will be shown to the user)
  • Place .desktop files in ~/.winswitch/server/menu/.
    If this directory is not present or empty, it will default to using /usr/share/applications/
  • Customize the list of default actions that the server provides?
  • Place .desktop files in ~/.winswitch/server/actions/
  • Use the menu mode rather than dialogs to start applications? (or vice versa)
  • Go to Configuration, select the User Interface and toggle the 'Use Nested Menus' option
  • How do I find the port the server is running on? What ports does winswitch use?
  • You can run winswitch_server_portinfo, or have a look in the server.log, or by viewing the 'connection configuration' window from a client which is already connected. You can also configure your server to use a specific port.
    Each session will use its own port, this port number is shown on the session's information window as part of the "address".
  • Make the server listen on a specific port?
  • Specify listen_on=":12345" in your server.conf to listen on port 12345 of all interfaces.
  • Listen on a specific IP only?
  • Specify listen_on="" in your server.conf to listen on only. (the port is unspecified and will be chosen by the operating system)
  • Listen on a specific interface only?
  • Specify listen_on="eth0:12345" in your server.conf to listen on eth0 only. (you can specify all ethernet interfaces with eth* - the actual interface names may vary)
  • Listen on multiple addresses?
  • Specify a list in your server.conf, like: listen_on=,,,wlan0:12323
  • Running as root
  • This is not supported and currently not functional, you must be running a server instance per user
  • Uninstall
  • On Windows the installer includes an uninstall option, on OSX just delete the Application, on Linux use your package manager, if installing from source see here
More information on server configuration here


  • Where does the application run? Does it move?
  • The application itself does not move, only the view does. It remains on the machine you chose to start it from.
  • When I disconnect the view, is the application still running?
  • Yes. Stopping the view does not change anything, the application is not aware of the distinction.
  • What is the correct way to close a seamless session?
  • Simply exit the application and the session will disappear.
  • Why not use the "close session" button on the control window?
  • This will kill the session and this may not preserve your documents
  • What is a shadow or copy?
  • The two terms are interchangable: it means the the session is a copy of another one. There is only one application running but you maybe multiple views of it which may be connected to different computers. more information here

Protocols & Xpra

  • What are the differences between xpra/NX/VNC and ssh modes?
  • Partial answer here
  • Cut & Paste is disabled or not working
  • Xpra ticket #11: clipboard support is limited on Microsoft Windows and non-existent on Mac OS X
  • Why did you fork xpra?
  • Upstream does not provide the features required.
    The correct patched version is included in our repository and installer, it is also available here
  • Have you forked xpra?
  • Yes, the upstream version has not been updated in years so we had to
More information about protocols here

KDE Issues

  • My KDE applications are missing
  • KDE applications behave very strangely and most will fork as daemons, which is currently not supported (and may never be).
  • I Use KDE and it doesn't work (xpra does not start)
  • That's because of a bug in KDE's oxygen, please ask your distribution to apply the fix to oxygen-gtk. A potential workaround is to use another theme.
  • I Use KDE and I can't click in windows, they move instead
  • That's because of a bug/feature in KDE. To work around it, execute oxygen-settings and change WidgetStyle->Windows drag mode to Drag windows from titlebar only. This can only be fixed permanently in KDE.

SELinux Issues

  • SELinux is enabled (and enforcing) and tunnels don't work
  • That's because the SELinux policy prevents port forwarding. To allow SSH to forward ports, use:
    sudo setsebool -P sshd_forward_ports on
  • SELinux is enabled and NX sessions don't appear
  • That's a probably a bug in your SELinux policy.. you must ask your vendor for assistance
  • I get SELinux warnings when starting sessions
  • Your policy may be too strict, please report the warning so we can investigate

NX Specific Issues

  • NX does not work from Window Switch, why?
  • Please check that it is installed correctly and that the binaries and libraries are visible to the whole system. (not installed in /usr/NX)
  • NX does not work when installed in /usr/NX
  • The three main options to resolve the problem caused by this odd installation location:
    1. Use packages that install things in the right place
    2. Set LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include /usr/NX/lib/ before you start Window Switch
    3. Move these libraries somewhere that is on your library path (like /usr/local/lib) - (that's is a bit of a hack - but will make most things just work)


  • The software contacts the internet without my permission!
  • This is a simple version check, looking for software updates. This is enabled by default on platforms that do not have an integrated package update system (MS Windows and Mac OS X). You can disable it from the security pane of the configuration screen.
  • Why use yet another authentication mechanism? Why not re-use SSH?
  • The idea is to avoid requiring other components (like SSH) and to avoid giving more access than is strictly required (like shell level access) whilst keeping it simple.
  • What are the security implications of using this software
  • There are many, the core issue is that it allows the client to control processes running on the server system.
  • Is sound forwarding secure?
  • No, the sockets used for sound forwarding can be accessed by anyone on the local system (or even a remote system if there is no firewall)
  • Aren't the client machines at risk too?
  • Although it is possible that there are unknown bugs with security implications in xpra, vnc, nx or even in Window Switch itself, those would be much less likely to lead to a full system compromise.
  • Which protocol is the safest in terms of system compromise?
  • VNC and xpra only deal with pixels, and do not expose access to your display. But they will also be slower... You can find a more detailed comparison here
    For more information on the security issues related to giving access to a X11 display, see X11 security
  • Which protocols can be sniffed over the network?
  • All of them can, so if you are concerned about hostile machines on the network you should be using the ssh tunnel feature.
    Window-Switch itself will expose some data, but the information required for connecting to sessions is encrypted.
  • Where is my remote password stored?
  • It is stored encrypted in the configuration file for that server, and although it is not stored in plain-text (to prevent simple password scraping) it is recoverable quite easily.
    You may clear your password once you have authenticated with the remote end (if your are using SSH key authentication or if you have successfully authenticated at least once)