How can I view graphical UNIX programs on my personal computer?

How can I view graphical UNIX programs on my personal computer?

This article describes the steps necessary to install X server software on your home computer. This will enable you to display windows and graphics created by applications running on remote UNIX systems.

Windows X11 Forwarding

When you run an X server and an SSH client, you will launch programs from the SSH window and the X server will be display them See these instructions for information on downloading and installing SSH software.

Your Windows SSH client must be configured to forward X Window System communication from the machine you are connecting to to your PC's display. In putty, click on the plus sign to the left of "SSH" in the left hand pane, then click "X11" and check the box labelled "Enable X11 Forwarding".

Windows: Xming

Xming is the X Windows Software from X.Org ported to Microsoft Windows. It shares source code with Cygwin's X server (see below), but you do not need the full cygwin environment to run it. You can use this X server in much the same way you use eXceed, though it does not come with many of the features of eXceed. If, for some reason, eXceed becomes unavailable to you, try this software. It can be downloaded from

Windows: eXceed

Most of our users who require X server software tend to choose Hummingbird's eXceed because of its availability to the Berkeley campus, its broad feature set, and its Microsoft Windows compatability. Hummingbird eXceed can be downloaded from You are required to authenticate with your CalNet ID. Installation is fairly simple; just double-click on the installation program. The installer runs some display diagnostics towards the end so expect the installation process to take longer than most software installations.

Windows: Cygwin

The Cygwin UNIX environment also includes the X Window System. It can be downloaded from

Mac OS X

Mac OS X 10.7 and earlier comes with an X server called and is found in /Applications/Utilities. Apple stopped installing X server software as of 10.8 however and recommends the installation of the third-party software XQuartz.

Mac X11 Forwarding

For forwarding remote X sessions over ssh you can use either (also found in /Applications/Utilities) or xterm. If you are using the Mac OS X Terminal, you will need to set your DISPLAY variable. Enter this statement into the file ~/.bashrc:

if [ -z $DISPLAY ]; then export DISPLAY=:0.0; fi

and then start a new Terminal window. If you are using xterm, the variable should be set for you.

On the Mac you should also use the -X and -Y options:

ssh -X -Y username@hostname