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Durham University


Graphical access: x2go, X11 and VNC

Graphical desktops

COSMA offers 2 ways to get a graphical desktop, in addition to standard X-11 forwarding: x2go and vnc. x2go is probably simpler to set up.


You will need an x2go client on your desktop/laptop. This is available under common package repositories.

Launch the client (e.g. x2goclient on Linux).

Create a new session with the following details:

Session name: (e.g. cosma - choose a name that means something to you!)

Host: Choose a cosma login node (e.g.

Login: Your cosma user name

Use RSA/DSA key for ssh connection: Select your private ssh kay.

Session type: Select Xfce.

Save these settings. Then, click on this entry, and eventually, you will be given a graphical desktop environment on COSMA.


While VNC can be used, ssh is preferred.

However, to use vnc, the following steps can be taken:

On a login node:

vncserver :N (where N is a number from 1 to something - try starting with 1)

If you haven't set up a vnc password run:


From your laptop/desktop:

ssh -Nf -L 5900:LOGINNODE:5900+N

And then:

vncviewer localhost:5900

On login7a:

vncserver :2

On laptop:

ssh -Nf -L 5900:login7a:5902

vncviewer localhost:5900