Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Forwarding Remote X11 Connections to Mac OS-X

I've become smitten with Mac OS-X largely because it is desktop UNIX that Just Works. Most other forms of desktop UNIX, e.g., Linux or FreeBSD, use an incarnation of X11, such as XFree86 or, for their GUI. One of the neat things you can do is run a graphical application on a Linux or BSD box but have it display on your Mac.

I used this tonight while doing some online bill paying. Rather than saving my receipts on my iBook, I SSHed into Bagend, exported the display over to the Mac, and paid my bills using Firefox running on Bagend but displaying on the laptop. So, when I saved the receipts, they went straight into the appropriate folder on Bagend.

Another point in favor of forwarding X rather than using something like VNC is that performance is somewhat better, in my limited experience.

Rather than repeating what's been said on several other sites, I'll refer you to this article, which explains in a clear manner how to get this working securely by tunnelling X through SSH.

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