How can I start a GUI application through SSH

Ean Kingston ean at
Mon Feb 21 20:44:20 GMT 2005

On February 21, 2005 03:25 pm, Brian John wrote:
> Hello,
> I would like to be able to start an X application through ssh.  I want the
> app to actually run on my local box (meaning I want the window to pop up
> on the box that I am ssh-ing to), but I just want to be able to start it
> remotely.  Can someone help me figure out how to do this?

For the purpose of this discussion, the 'server' is the remote system the one 
you are ssh-ing to. The 'client' is the one you are ssh-ing from.

1)	Before you leave, go to the server and logon at the console so that you 
have X running. Make a note of the 'DISPLAY' variable setting. Probably 
	$ echo $DISPLAY
Do NOT log out.

2)	Use SSH to connect to the server as the same user that logged on.

3)	Set the DISPLAY variable to the one indicated in step 1. 
	$ export DISPLAY=:0.0

4)	Run the command  you want (with nohup and in the background.
	$ nohup xterm -sb &

That will run the command so that output is displayed on the server console 
and let you log out of your ssh session.

If you want to learn more, you should read up on the xauth command. Also, try 
to understand X toolkit basics.

Why do you want to do this anyway?

Ean Kingston

E-Mail: ean AT hedron DOT org

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