[SATLUG] Attaching to a running GUI

Borries Demeler demeler at biochem.uthscsa.edu
Mon Feb 11 06:43:43 CST 2008

> Thanks to everyone that replied and offered advice. Unfortunately, since 
> I cannot install anything on the box, it looks like I'm out of luck. 
> It's not a matter of not having administrator rights (I have those), I 
> just cannot install any software due to project restrictions. Oh well.


I don't know if anyone mentioned this solution yet, but Linux indeed is
flexible enough to do what you want, as long as you can have a second
Linux box on the network somewhere else, and don't mind entering a few
command lines. For simplicity, let's call the box from which you want to
attach to the GUI host-a.domain.net, and the second networked linux box,
let's call it host-b.domain.net (they can be on different domains).

Here is what you do:

1. Install vnc on host-b.domain.net. Of course, this box needs to be networked.
Set up VNC so it doesn't use any fancy window manager on this box,
the default twm will do.

2. Start VNC on host-b.domain.net and log into the VNC session. Let's say you started
VNC on DISPLAY=:1 on this box. 

3. Open a shell on the VNC session and type this: xhost +host-a.domain.net.
Close the shell. There shouldn't be anything on the desktop except a grey background.

4. now go to host-a.domain.net and log in. Open a shell (or in terminal mode),

export DISPLAY=host-b.domain.net:1
startkde &

5. now go back and attach to your VNC session and voila, you will be able to see the 
GUI of the host-a.domain.net box on host-b.domain.net. Run all of your programs
from there and and you can shut and open your VNC client from host-b.domain.net
as often as you like and will always find that you can re-attach to the GUI from
host-a.domain.net without ever installing *anything* on this box.

One caveat: The vnc port needs to be open between the 2 computers (5901 for display 1).

Linux makes it possible - cool, eh?

> -Kase
> Ed Coates wrote:
> > On Feb 8, 2008 1:21 PM, Kase Saylor  wrote:
> >   
> >> Is there a way to SSH to a box that is running a GUI and "attach" to
> >> that GUI so that is can be seen on the remote machine?
> >>
> >> -Kase
> >>     
> > I don't think that there's a way in linux that you can "attach" to an
> > already running gui.  You can though, install the vncserver, start it
> > up, and then run a new instance of the gui.
> >
> > You mentioned in a later thread that you can't install anything.  Are
> > you not the administrator of the box, or is it something else.
> >
> > Ed
> >   
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