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Remote Window Managers

Lots of times it’s extremely frustrating or time consuming to run an xterm on a remote host just to fork your programs from that remote machine. Why not just run your window manager there even though you’re not on its console? The window manager is just another X application, after all, isn’t it?

Fire off your local X server

xinit /usr/bin/xterm — :1 &

yields a vanilla X session with merely an xterm running - no window manager. Now you need to add permissions to this window session for the remote host. You can tunnel the connection through SSH if your network is insecure but there’s a distinct performance hit. If your network is secure, you can just “xhost +remotehost” and spray directly to your X server:

Tunneled SSH:

ssh -fY remotehost /usr/bin/wmaker

or spray directly:

xhost +remotehost
ssh -f remotehost /usr/bin/wmaker -display localmachine:1

The first option, if your remote SSH server supports it, will use a locally defined DISPLAY that then gets tunneled to your local side over SSH. The second option allows remotehost to send X data directly to your local display, then runs WindowMaker there but displaying it locally. Now all your desktop actions are done on the remote machine, not locally.

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