Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Running a graphical application remotely using SSH

This finding is in no way revolutionary, but I found it useful, so maybe others will too. I'm running Ubuntu Linux on my laptop, and recently I wanted to run a Matlab script on a Linux workstation. I can log on the the workstation using ssh, for example


which gives me access to the terminal. However, SSH can also be used for graphical programs, if the server is running a X window system. The SSH connection is configured for X session forwarding by adding a "-X" switch at logon,

ssh -X

Such forwarding is further explained here. If I logon using the above syntax and start matlab, it appears as a regular window on my desktop, although it's running on the workstation. Unfortunately it can be a bit slow in responding to mouse and keyboard input, so using the terminal version of Matlab may in some cases be just as good.