Start a GUI Application on a Remote Computer using SSH

This article describes how to log into the remote computer (server) using SSH and run a GUI (graphical) application that requires screen. The GUI program will be displayed on the physical monitor, connected to that remote machine.

Run a GUI Program on a Remote Computer’s Screen

The Basic Procedure

Log into a remote machine using SSH:

$ ssh

Tell GUI applications to be launched on the local screen (so, any graphical program that you run, will be displayed on the remote computer’s screen):

$ export DISPLAY=:0

Execute GUI Program. For, example lets start Firefox browser that will be launched and displayed on the remote machine’s screen in which we logged in:

$ firefox ""

Use nohup to prevent a process from being stopped after closing SSH session:

$ nohup firefox ""

More Examples

Send a pop-up notification (notify-send) that will be shown on the remote computer’s screen:

$ ssh 'DISPLAY=:0 nohup notify-send "Hello" "World"'

Start a music player (rhythmbox) on the remote computer:

$ ssh 'DISPLAY=:0 nohup rhythmbox ./Smoke-on-the-Water.mp3'

4 Replies to “Start a GUI Application on a Remote Computer using SSH”

  1. thank you so much.

    you have no idea how many google results I have scrambled through that suggest using X11 forwarding. Holy crap, I don’t want that! Finally you helped me.

  2. I’ve always wondered how to do this… Thanks for the tip!
    PS – Any idea why ‘startx’ doesn’t seem to work using this method?

  3. a little time ago I have been searched this thing but I didn’t find at the time. I found it right now and I’m adding this link to my bookmarks

  4. thanks so much for this, it helped me alot

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