Sunday, September 13, 2009

iTerm, and the case of the missing DISPLAY

If you're running as your X server on OS X you generally need to use the xterm window it launches for you as part of the system or your specific xinitrc to connect to remote hosts via SSH when you want to enable X11 forwarding (and the propagation of your DISPLAY variable).

I prefer iTerm and luckily the solutions to switch to using it instead of the xterm launched by X11 is pretty easy to implement.

The first option is to make a user specific copy of xinitrc and modify the line that launches xterm to rather launch iTerm. If you don't have a user specific xinitrc (~/.xinitrc) you can grab a copy from /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc or /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc.

Near the bottom of the xinitrc you'll see a few lines that reference xterm that you can comment our and substitute with:

/usr/bin/open /Applications/

If you access remote X applications very infrequently it may simply be easier to ensure that X11 is running and then export your DISPLAY variable manually in iTerm:

$ export DISPLAY=:0

The final solution is to make all terms aware of your DISPLAY variable by editing your local environment plist (~/.MacOSX/environment.plist):

$ open ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist

This will open the plist in the Property List Editor where you can add a new child (DISPLAY) under the root node with a value of ':0'. For this to take effect you need to log out/in. You could also have dropped 'export DISPLAY=:0' into your local ~/.bash_profile to achieve the same results.

No comments:

About Me

My photo
I love solving real-world problems with code and systems (web apps, distributed systems and all the bits and pieces in-between).