Remotely open a session on a Ubuntu desktop from Mac OS X

You have an idle Ubuntu desktop machine running somewhere in your office, and you want to open-up an X session to run some Linux specific software, but you don’t want to physically be in front of the machine?

Configure the Ubuntu desktop to accept XDMCP clients :

# vi /etc/gdm/custom.conf
...
[security]
DisallowTCP=false
...
[xdmcp]
Enable=true
...

Restart GDM :

# service gdm restart

Now, from your Mac OS X desktop, run Xnest :

$ Xnest -geometry 1280x1024 -query ubuntu-desktop.example.net

That will display the GUI login screen from the Ubuntu desktop, and allow you to sign-in with a user, as if you where in front of the machine.

Hint: sound will be played on the remote Ubuntu machine, so you might wan’t to mute the volume in your X session before running something that might blast music at full volume in the remote room 🙂

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