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Xquartz and XDMCP
Written by Sam Moffatt   
Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Whilst not installed by default with MacOS X 10.4.x, X11 is the popular X windowing system familiar to those who use Linux.

What you may not realize is that this can be used with a terminal to provide an XDMCP login screen to your Linux boxes and not just SSH forwarding.

Xquartz -query :1

This brings up on your desktop hopefully a login screen to your favourite Linux server (might want to replace with the name or IP address of your target) if XDMCP is configured properly). If it doens't there are a few things to check:

  • Check that XDMCP is actually enabled on the remote machine, checkout the documentation for your favourite login manager for this. On SuSE machines I believe this is enabled by default. I'm a Debian/GNOME/GDM person, and you can use the gdmsetup tool (needs root).
  • If you've enabled any sort of firewall this will be blocking the connections - but not on the outgoing side but the incoming. The evidence for this is a grey background with nothing connecting (you may need to enable fullscreen in the X11 application preferences). If you're using the internal firewall, go to System Preferences > Sharing > Firewall > New. From here select port name 'Other', enter TCP port 6001 and enter the description 'X Server'. Try again.
  • You may not have X11 installed. Its on your supplied DVD under Bundled Software :)
If you have any other issues, I eventually respond to email, so drop me a line and I'll try to give you some guide as to debugging it. Just drop a note in the contact section of this site.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 23 May 2006 )
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