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Given a setup of a headless Linux box running on a network, but having Xorg installed, and having various other machines on the network capable of using SSH with X-forwarding to connect to that box, and have X11 apps run on the local machine, I have an interesting question.

I'm familiar with using 'screen' to encapsulate an SSH session such that I can detach and reattach to it from a different machine, and while detached, processes continue to run, and when I reattach, I can scroll back through the buffer and see what was output.

Is the same thing possible for X11 apps? I ran into the situation where I wanted to run wireshark for some time to do some packet sniffing, but while it was running, I needed to switch computers, but realized there was no way that I knew to 'disconnect' from the wireshark thread, while still leaving it running, and in a state that I could reconnect to it at a later time (perhaps from a different machine) through another SSH session. Is there a similar process to the 'screen' disconnect/reconnect that can be done with X11 apps that are forwarded to a remote machine?

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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

VNC will do this for you. It's the Unix version of remote desktop.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xpra sounds more like what you want to do than VNC..

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Xpra looks like a clever utility, though I see it's not part of the Gentoo portage tree, so for my particular situation I'll go with VLC for now and try this in the future. –  MidnightLightning Jan 18 '10 at 14:13
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+1! I just set this up (well WinSwitch) on an Ubuntu server with an OS X client. It does exactly what I want! –  kbyrd Dec 29 '10 at 21:08
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Other things that let you suspend and resume remote X sessions would include:

  • Exceed onDemand (popular in the corporate / education worlds)
  • NoMachine NX / the free wrapper for their GPL libraries, freeNX / Google's 'neatX' NX server
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Have you tried shifter?

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