Running a GUI App from a Remote SSH Terminal

Peter Garrett peter.garrett at
Wed Jan 10 12:25:50 UTC 2007

On Wed, 10 Jan 2007 13:48:14 +0200
"Amichai Rotman" <amichai at> wrote:

> Hi All,
> I am at work, connected through SSH and I would like to start Gaim for my
> wife at home.
> What's the syntax to run it on Display:0?


sudo -u <wife's-username> gaim

It should run as her user, thus the X server should be happy. 
If you know her password you could do

su <wife's-username>
<wife's password>

If neither of those work, try them with

gaim --display :0    # note that this should only work in conjunction with
the above

If this succeeds, and you want to put gaim in the background, do


To bring it back to the foreground,  fg  ( then you should be able to kill
it with ctrl+c )

To make sure it keeps running after you logout, background it then  do

disown %1   # assuming this is the only background job, which you can
check with the command "jobs"
> When trying to run just gaim, I get an error stating the display is
> unset....

Yes, currently :0 belongs to her :) So you have to "become" her either
with sudo -u <her> <command>  or su <her>  and <her> pass followed by the
command. ( "su" means "switch user" ) 

One of these should work - I haven't tested here but I think I have it
right ;-)


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