Home > X11 > Configuring and Running X11 Applications on Mac OS X Configuring and Running X11 Applications on Mac OS X Eugenia Loli 2005-01-21 X11 30 Comments X11 (the X Window System) is a widely-used graphical user interface on UNIX. Read this article to learn how to set up and use X11 applications on your Mac OS X system. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 30 Comments 2005-01-21 3:58 am And perhaps one day X11 will do something other than run the Scorched3D Mac distro. This was supposed to be a bridge between platforms, but right now it’s a bridge to nowhere. Better off partitioning and running YDL on the other half, I suppose! Don’t get me wrong –Scorched3D completely justifies the download of X11 for Mac! 2005-01-21 4:09 am With the cancellation of the OpenOffice Aqua version, it’s also good for running OpenOffice (I can’t stand OOo but some people like it, so they’ll get the use of X11). And there’s a circuit design app I tried out that was quite nice. 2005-01-21 4:29 am I like using X11 for X forwarding. I have a Sun box that I don’t wish to have a monitor hooked up to, but I can still run programs, just remotely on my ibook. 2005-01-21 4:49 am Nate: That sounds intriguing, I hadn’t thought of using it that way, but I could do the same thing with Linux, no? 2005-01-21 6:27 am http://www.linux.org/docs/ldp/howto/Remote-X-Apps.html#toc6 2005-01-21 6:38 am Sure. You can do that between any two platforms that speak X11. The easiest way is usually to tunnel X11 through SSH (which also provides encryption and compression): http://www.cat.pdx.edu/network/x.php http://www.geocities.com/Jeff_Louie/x11/remoting.htm 2005-01-21 8:48 am Did you really use X11 or do you really understand it. I don’t think so!!!! By porting X11 on MacOsX as a native windowing layer and optimised for OpenGl, Apple has opened the door for a large number of high end applications, for example engeenering/scientific applications. Such high end applications like EnSight, Techplot, Mathlab, have been proted on os x with X11. RSI IDL has been proted on osx using X11. All popular Linux applications run on osx natively with X11, should i remind you Gimp, running on osx using X11. You can also run KDE, Gnome, etc, all of them are available via Fink. The point here, is that Unix and Linux applications can run natively on osx without to be ported using Carbon or Cocoa carbon. All of those applications are OpenGl accelerated as Apple X11 is OpenGl accelerated. That’s particularly important for the high end applications that i described above because they ara used for 3 dimensional visullisation. With X11, many of those high end Unix applications developper have ported their applications on osx using X11, that’s very trivial for them if there is a X11 layer. Many of thoses applications are coming to osx. A few months ago, Gridgen and Fieldview used for computational fluid dynamics have been ported on osx using x11. There still many high end CAD, Finite element solver applications running on Solaris, HP/UX, Aix, etc that can be ported easily on osx using X11. Personnaly i often use Mathlab, Mathematica for my work. I am student, i can afford those kind of applications. In my university there is a computer center providing access to those applications with remote connection (Xwindow is wonderful for that), they run on a HP server with HP/UX. To connect to the server its better to have a workstation with Xwindow. I am using osx, and with X11, no problem to use this computation ressource…… So please if you don’t know the things, don’t come with unrelevant arguments. Because you really don’t know what you are talking about!!!! 2005-01-21 10:26 am x11 forwarding? how about vnc? http://www.ozonehouse.com/mark/blog/code/Reverse_VNC.html add it ssh tunneling and you have a killer combo 2005-01-21 10:30 am The last build of GIMP I downloaded and tried to run on X11 “Didn’t really work”; and the OOo set are also stuck in the “kind-of/sort-of” phase of functionality. I tried to wrestle with Fink (etc.) about 6 months ago, and haven’t tried since then, but the result were (at that time) unimpressive at best. No, I’m not an expert in X11, and this is because I’ve never found any use for it that would justify my learning more than the little I know. That doesn’t make me evil –it just means I’m a user rather than a dev. But, after all, I did manage to get Scorched3D running, so give me some credit here! 2005-01-21 10:59 am If you want to use Gimp i suggest tu to visit: http://gimp-app.sourceforge.net/ You will find there a contained application bundle (like any osx application). To install just drag and drop whereever you want. To run you need that X11 is installed on your machine. The version of Gimp is 2.2…. 2005-01-21 11:05 am I replaced Apple’s built-in X11 package with a fresh XOrg 6.8.1 build using Fink, and run it as full screen (so it’s like having two separate desktops) as opposed to rootless. This setup is not only faster, but works better if you intend to install and use a DE and/or custom window manager (“custom” being other than the default TWM). I would recommend this, even though the package is currently in the unstable tree and it doesn’t offer some of the nicities that Apple’s package does. Aside from that, though, the rest of the article gives a good grounding in working with the X11 world in Mac OS X. It certainly removes a lot of headaches, as opposed to running X11 atop Windows. 2005-01-21 11:46 am >>x11 forwarding? how about vnc? << Why run a full screen when all you need is a single App? X11 forwarding is designed just for that. I don’t need the advanced features of X.org’s X11 Apple’s is fine for what I use. I also prefer rootless, let the layers stay on top of one another. 2005-01-21 1:59 pm At work, I’ve got Linux running on my desktop. Its cool that I can take my iBook to anywhere in the building and run an application from my Linux desktop on my iBook. I just connect to my linux box with SSH and enable X forwarding. Then I type the name of the app I want to run and voila, it pops up on my iBook. Way better than VNC because I only need to run one app, not transfer over a whole desktop. 2005-01-21 2:53 pm > Way better than VNC because I only need to run one app, not transfer over a whole > desktop. In principle yes, but in my experience VNC is a lot faster (especially with 8-bit true color enabled) than X11 forwarding — even though the whole desktop is transfered. 2005-01-21 3:00 pm I’ve found VNC to be very slow except over a compressed ssh tunnel (ssh -C), but with that, it’s faster to just do forwarding of individual applications. Albeit, I tried VNC only over wireless or into a machine behind a cable modem, so slow was virtually guaranteed. But, to complete, VNC is, in my opinion, most useful when you have an existing desktop you want to work on from a remote location, other than that, individual applications can just be run over ssh X forwarding. 2005-01-21 3:31 pm Let me get this straight – your solution to your difficulties with fink and with gimp is to declare that X11 is a bridge to nowhere? Some of us have been using X11 from the moment it came out on the Mac (not originally from Apple, mind), and quite successfully at that. I use gimp and X forwarding regularly. Two weeks ago for example, I was using it from a hotel room to run a Mathematica session from the workstation in my office, several hundred miles away. Don’t protest that you’re not evil, because no one called you evil. What was said is that you don’t know what you are talking about; believe it or not, that’s not evil. You could ask for help, though; that would be the, uh, “intelligent” thing to do. I don’t even know what Scorched3D is! 2005-01-21 3:32 pm Nate: That sounds intriguing, I hadn’t thought of using it that way, but I could do the same thing with Linux, no? Yes I could do this with linux, I actually have in the past. I don’t run linux much anymore, so I use my ibook. You can forward X connections to any machine. At work I’ve used a program called X manager to forward X progs to a windows box. As an FYI, if you don’t own the network or trust it, forward your connections over ssh, otherwise everything is in the clear. 2005-01-21 4:21 pm find / use your local linux box & setup NXserver on it. NX is soooo sweet…. you really cant ask for a faster networking app (better than VNC) 2005-01-21 4:59 pm install it from the cd how informative… 2005-01-21 5:02 pm Maybe because they like using Macs ? Its not a terribly difficult concept. Commercial App Support + *nix Open Source Ability is a pretty nice combo. Some people also aren’t cheapskates and don’t settle for cheap hardware. While you can build a high end PC for less than a Mac, you can’t really buy a pre-built high end PC for much less than a Mac so it doesn’t really matter. You might think that a $300 celeron crap PC + Linux is the best thing since sliced bread, but some people think the money paid is worth it. 2005-01-21 5:03 pm Why people would by a mac, wich is very expensive for what it is, and run macosX, when the os is so slow, to run Linux app? Go by a PC for une quarter de price of a mac and run Linux on it, that it. I have an ibook as mentioned above. I mainly use OS X apps, but every once in a while (maybe once a month) I will use X forwarding from my sun box. I also use ethereal with X in OS X every once in a blue moon. Where OS X shines for me is audio recording, there are many more professional packages available for mac than unix. I used linux on the desktop for 3 years about 5 years ago, and again a year ago. I got tired of half finished open source applications and spending all night trying to get a movie player compiled so I can watch a movie. I would rather spend my time doing other activities then monkeying with my computer. In my opinion a computer should work just like a tv, turn it on and it works, no problems. I like the iBook, I can just get my work done right away, it’s also silent, which my cheap x86 pcs never were. If anyone is really interested in running a linux/unix server and then doing all X forwarding I would not even recommend a cheap pc running linux on it for the client, that’s even overkill. I would recommend getting a Sun Ray, or a Sun Javastation, which both run linux and use those. The Sun thin clients can be found on ebay for under $50, are completely silent, and use pc keyboards and mice. If all you want is a x term, this is it. 2005-01-21 6:23 pm Why people would by a mac, wich is very expensive for what it is, and run macosX, when the os is so slow, to run Linux app? Go by a PC for une quarter de price of a mac and run Linux on it, that it. Isn’t it better to be able to simultaneously run commercial software such as Adobe Photoshop and Maya, in addition to GREAT Apple software like iDVD ’05, iTunes, and iPhoto ’05… while also running X11-based apps like Nessus, Netrek, xpilot, and Fluxbox, plus thousands of linux apps? …Or you can do it your way and have only Linux apps to run. That cheap box you got there.. yep it sure is.. cheap. I guess you do get what you pay for! 2005-01-21 6:32 pm I can’t believe there’s a discussion about “You can view X remotely?!” here. That is the best thing that seperates X11 from Windows and Mac. Run software on the big box, pipe the display to the dinky workstation. I suppose VNC would also work for this, but then all the windows inside VNC are stuck in that little window and don’t show up in the task list and whatnot. It’s called network transparency, but be careful: every discussion about X11 on OsNews there’s tons of people that want to do away with it. They seem to think it slows X11 down, and once upon a time it probably did. Modern X11 servers work around it and it doesn’t make much difference any more. 2005-01-21 8:08 pm I have a friend who works in a biochem lab at UW-Madison. For the price/performance ratio, the Dual CPU G5 he ordered when he got there, kicked the crap out of the Xeon, SPARC, and MIPS machines that some of the other post-docs were using. It’s true that you can pick up a decent x86 box and install Linux on it, but for the experiments he runs, he needs a high-end machine. Macs have the nice BSD core, plus he can use regular Aqua apps. Whenever he needs to write papers or give presentations, he uses Adobe Illustrator and MS PowerPoint. OS X + X11 = best of both worlds. 2005-01-21 9:14 pm Hi, this post is about X11, REAL X11. This post is awesome. X11 is cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet. Facts: 1. X11 is a network transparent graphics system 2. X11 displays things ALL the time 3. The purpose of X11 is to flip out and forward applications Here’s a neat trick with X11: $ xinit /usr/bin/ssh -X hippo startkde — :1 This will start an entire KDE session on hippo and display it on your second X server. Replace startkde with gnome-session, xfce4-session, fvwm, or whatever your window manager or desktop environment of choice is. If you’re not running an X server you can use :0 instead of :1. If you’ve configured a public key, you won’t even need to type a password. 2005-01-21 11:09 pm umm.,.. I guess you totally missed the news that OOo is not canceling the aqua port. 2005-01-22 5:37 am You said “And there’s a circuit design app I tried out that was quite nice.” So what does it do and where can I get it?? Thanks. 2005-01-22 4:12 pm The “critique” of my recent posts seem to overlook an important fact: I didn’t say “X11 is worthless”, what I said was “There’s no point in messing around with X11 when you can run *real* Linux (such as Yellow dog) on a PPC/Mac platform”. X11 will offer some “kind-of-sort-of solutions” for certain types of applications. I’m interested to hear that some high-end graphical and mathematical apps run well on X11 –but I certainly wouldn’t use it even for word-processing. Thus, to justify my “Bridge to Nowhere” claim: what’s the point of building a bridge when Mac is itself built on (pseudo-)Linux, and Mac hardware can run Linux? I’ll leave it up to all the crafy devs to wrestle with X11; but I’m guessing that most of you would rather just spend your time doing something constructive in Linux, which was my original point. 2005-01-22 6:52 pm @Guy who posted first message Your question has been answered, several times over. To repeat: Lots of us like to use Aqua apps, and prefer the Mac interface, but we need X apps for our work, or we need to connect with and run software on Linux machines while we’re away from the machine. It’s nice to be able just to start up the X terminal and get work done. I didn’t want to put up with the hassle that seems incumbent on most every Linux installation; I wanted a Mac, so I could get work done. It just so happens that the Mac will also get work done on my Linux box at the office, while I sit at home in my pjs. If you like, you can read a related story, http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=7259 from June of last year. That might give you more insight to the workings of our insane minds. 2005-01-22 11:01 pm One nice reason to use X11 under OSX is that powerbooks (such as my laptop) are somewhat lacking in the ports department… I’ve been playing with some FPGA programming tools, which only run under windows, and have a bit of a history of breaking it (irreversibly corrupting the OS, that is), so it makes sense to run windows in a VM. I happen to have some headless boxes that do have legacy ports, so my setup is to run Xilinx Webpack in Windows 2000 under VMWare for linux, which is forwarding its display to my powerbook. Doing this, I can use VMWare’s snapshots to “fix” windows if the Xilinx tools break it. A screenie is posted at http://tsuraan.icompute.com/x11screenie.png . I don’t think that this could be done any other way, really. Windows is not generally happy when it’s lacking a graphics card, and I don’t believe that VNC really works without some sort of display running, either. As for the comment about just running linux: I don’t believe that linux supports the 17″ powerbooks yet. Last I checked, it couldn’t handle the graphics card at all. Besides, having proper support for suspending is really nice; sometimes I’ll just leave my laptop running in my backpack for a few days, and when I open the lid again, the battery is above 80%. Proper hardware support really does have its up side.