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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > macOS > "could not open display" in X11

"could not open display" in X11
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Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2002
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Apr 19, 2005, 04:48 PM
On my OS X, I ssh to a Linux machine and try to run a GUI program. But after I type the command, it shows "could not open display". What can I do?

I get the same error info on terminal or X11, even iTerm. If I use yellowdog linux, everything is fine. However, I really do not want to restart my PB.
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: London, UK
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Apr 19, 2005, 04:59 PM
Either use Xterm (or some other terminal running under X) or set your DISPLAY environment variable.
Paul McCann
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
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Apr 20, 2005, 12:04 AM
It's worth trying the following: set your own display to be something like ":0.0". If you're using tcsh then
setenv DISPLAY :0.0
will work, while
export DISPLAY=:0.0
will work for bash or zsh. Then log in to the remote machine using
ssh -X [email protected]
and all should be well. ie, just crank up a few X11 applications. Your DISPLAY in the remote shell should be something like


(it's a proxy X-server). If this does work then throw the display command into your startup file (.login for tcsh, .zlogin for zsh, etc etc). If it doesn't work, too bad! Could be that X11 forwarding isn't allowed in the sshd_config file.

Best of luck,
( Last edited by Paul McCann; Apr 20, 2005 at 12:06 AM. Reason: typos)
neilxu  (op)
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Apr 20, 2005, 12:45 AM
thanks paul! it rocks! I am considering deleting linux once I install tiger on my PB
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