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Using X-windows

Introduction

UNIX/Linux applications with a graphical user-interface require the use of special display software when connecting from a remote location. Two methods are currently supported: X-windows and VNC. X-windows is recommended for most users, but VNC is useful when certain applications fail to run properly under X-windows, or when a persistent connection to the remote display is required. See Using VNC for information about VNC.

X-windows is the native display technology on UNIX and Linux systems and is designed for networked use. Because secure connections are required in the Stanford timeshare environment, SSH must be used to encrypt the X-windows connection; most SSH clients have built-in support for X display forwarding.

Using XQuartz on OS X

XQuartz is a free X server implementation for OS X. You can download the XQuartz application at MacOSForge.

  1. Verify that XQuartz is installed and launch the XQuartz application (located in the Utilities subfolder of the Applications folder). An xterm window should open by default. If no terminal window opens, start one by selecting Terminal from the File menu or pressing COMMAND + N.
  2. In xterm, connect to any Stanford timeshare using the ssh command. You must specify the -X option to enable display forwarding; for example:

    ssh -X sunetid@corn.stanford.edu

    In some cases, enabling compression by specifying the -C option can improve performance, especially when connecting from outside the campus network:


    ssh -CX sunetid@corn.stanford.edu
  3. Authenticate using your SUNet ID password. After connecting, the remote machine will display a standard prompt, as with normal connections, but remote applications with a graphical user-interface will automatically use the local display.
  4. To end the session, quit all remote applications, type exit to close the SSH connection, and quit Apple X11.

Using Xming on Windows

Xming is a freely available X server for Windows. It uses PuTTY, a built-in SSH client, to forward the display.

  1. Download and install the public domain releases of Xming and Xming-fonts.
    The default installation options for Xming should be sufficient. The 100dpi, Trutype, and Deja Vu fonts available in Xming-fonts are optional, but recommended.
  2. Once installation is complete, run XLaunch.
    • You can configure the display settings for each session as desired, but Multiple windows is standard.
    • Select the option to Start a program.
    • Use the default program, xterm, but choose Run Remote Using PuTTY Link (plink.exe) and make sure With compression is checked.
    • - You may connect to any Stanford timeshare computer (e.g., corn.stanford.edu). Log in using your SUNet ID, but leave the Password field blank; you will be prompted for your SUNet ID password upon connection.
    • No special parameter settings are required.
  3. Optionally, save this configuration for future use, and then connect, providing your password when required.
    An xterm window will open and the remote machine will display a standard UNIX prompt, as with normal connections. However, remote applications with a graphical user-interface will automatically use the local display.
  4. To end the session, quit all remote applications, type exit to close the xterm window. Xming will quit automatically when the xterm window is closed.

Using X11 on UNIX/Linux

Because X11 is the native display technology on UNIX and Linux systems it is possible to connect to any Stanford timeshare for remote display simply by opening a Terminal window and running ssh with the -Y option.

  1. Open a Terminal window and connect to any Stanford timeshare using the ssh command with the -X option; for example:

    ssh -X sunetid@corn.stanford.edu

    In some cases, enabling compression by specifying the -C option can improve performance, especially when connecting from outside the campus network:

    ssh -CX sunetid@corn.stanford.edu
     
  2. Authenticate using your SUNet ID password. After connecting, the remote machine will display a standard prompt, as with normal connections, but remote applications with a graphical user-interface will automatically use the local display.
  3. To end the session, quit all remote applications and type exit to close the SSH connection.
Last modified September 27, 2013