X11 for Windows and Mac

X11 is a remote-display protocol used by Linux/Unix machines, including the Linux machines at Thayer. By running an X11 program (known as a server) on your computer, you can access graphical Linux programs remotely through an SSH client. In addition many *nix applications ported to OS X do not run natively under the OS X gui and require X11.

Terminology Note: The program displaying graphics on your local machine is called an X Server, and the process on the remote end is called an X client. Yes, this is backwards from what you might expect.


  • Xming Open-source, free, and full-featured.
  • ReflectionX - This software has been site-licensed by Dartmouth for use on Dartmouth computers. You will need KeyAccess running on your computer to use this software.


Beginning with Mountain Lion (10.8), Apple has stopped supplying its own version of X11. To install X11 on Mountain Lion, download and install the XQuartz Application from:  http://xquartz.macosforge.org/


Another method for accessing graphical programs remotely from our linux compute servers is X2Go. This program allows you to run a full remote desktop which can be disconnected and reconnected while graphical applications continue to run. X2Go  can also be much faster that X11 forwarding, especially over slower connections. For more information about downloading and setting up X2Go, see this page: X2Go

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