Securely forwarding X11 over SSH so you can use Linux GUI tools in anywhere — even on Windows. Multi cam editing, SMS rescue texts, Android Terminals and clark kent glasses. All that and more this time on Hak5!

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X11 over SSH part 1: Linux to Linux

While SSH is great for getting a bash terminal on a remote Linux box, a few paramaters and an X11 server can take it to the next level by running X Window graphical applications over your secure tunnel.

In this segment Darren demos launching GUI apps from one Linux box to another using ssh -X


Last Week: What software is used to hack into ENCOM’s computer system?

Answer: CLU

This Week:

“Gatekeeper” is the computer security software in what cliche hacker movie?

X11 over SSH part 2: Windows to Linux

As explained in Part 1, all you need do open GUI apps over SSH is an SSH client and an X11 server. If you’re on Windows this can be achieved with <” target=”_blank”>Xming and Putty. Darren demos using an XP VM.

Round Table: Premiere CS5 Multi-cam and

Darren and Shannon catch up this week with a little show and tell. Darren’s excited about multi-cam editing in Premiere while Shannon has been playing with — a web service perfect for getting out of annoying conversations or even bad dates!

We answer Rodrigo’s question about Gunnar optics, and Kevin’s about SSH on Android. Darren recommends “Better Terminal Emulator” which can be found in the Android marketplace. Also, StoraH from Sweeden writes in to share his Firefox Boxee addon. Check it out!

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  • kevin 5 years ago

    just wondering why you have EEF5204D6A in binary at the end of the show

  • nicatronTg 5 years ago

    Binary at the end translates to EEF5204D6@. I guess we’re going on something about a Darknet now?

    • Well – He even said the EEF5204D6A in the outtakes and it flashed in the last(?) episode…

    • gohst 5 years ago

      I think it is kinda funny that he texts that? I have missed a few episodes, any info on where this is going?

  • Love the multi-cam editing, ive been doing it the stair climber way for about 2 years, Keep up the good work….

  • Raptor 5 years ago

    Close. The binary translates to EEF5204D6A, which is the same string flashed on the screen at the end of episode 806 right after Darren says “another hint to the darknet”.

  • FYI – X11 forwarding is disabled by default in Ubuntu 10.04. You need to edit – /etc/ssh/sshd_config on the application host machine (not the machine displaying the app) before either the linux-linux or windows-linux examples here will work.

    Uncomment X11Forwarding and change to yes.

    Restart SSH with sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart

  • FYI – X11 forwarding is disabled by default in Ubuntu 10.04. You need to edit – /etc/ssh/sshd_config on the application host machine (not the machine displaying the app) before either the linux-linux or windows-linux examples here will work.

    Uncomment X11Forwarding and change to yes.

    sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config

    Restart SSH with:

    sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart

  • Feedback!
    X11 tunneling over non-local network sucks pretty bad for latency.

    I recommend you use VNC-per-app or NX.
    VNC-per-app is an hack that run each app in it’s own X11 so it’s not *that* good.
    NX is pretty good. It’s very much like tunneling with a compression tunnel and the latency and overall speed is very good. There’s commercial and free as in freedom implementations. Take a look Darren!

  • good episode 😉 will be playing with this later 😀

  • Andrew Sadach 5 years ago

    How do i setup and linux can darren make a tutorial on how to do it

  • The link for the Firefox – Boxee add-on is already broken. Looks like Mozilla took it down.

  • Mike Kelly 5 years ago

    Got a quick tip as a follow-up on your ‘how to sync’ clips in Premier Pro … The hand clap is great but for “Frame Accurate” editing, right after your clap, fire off a flash at the set, something that every camera will pick up, now once you find the clap in the audio track look for the 1 frame with the flash and CUT the clip on that frame, do the same for the other cams and that cut is now your sync point.

    I use the camera flash technique all the time for weddings and events when I don’t have the luxury of a clap or sound.

  • I tried and did not like Xming. (pain x3).

    Cygwin/X, on the other hand was a breeze, and its available as part of the normal cygwin install. Just enable the xinit package during the cygwin setup process.

    I use SSH Secure from SSH Communications Security Corp., and its just one little checkbox to Tunnel X11…

  • Kenneth 5 years ago

    I prefer Cygwin/X

    google it…

  • ctrld 5 years ago

    Agree with previous comment re:NX, FreeNX and NX client is cool. chk out for nox/win/osx clients

  • Liapis Nikos 5 years ago

    The X11 forwarding is very interesting and very cool feature.
    I have one question. What happens when you try to forward video via X11 ?

  • nikos liapis 5 years ago

    What happens if you try to forward video via X11?

  • gladfan 5 years ago

    Darren stated he would refer to the previous show where you went through setting up ssh which one was this please.

  • Hello Darren,

    I just thought it would be nice to post up a simple way to boost the speeds on the X11 tunneling using putty. I noticed that when running applications over the tunnel on my windows box things seemed a little slow using wireless. I searched and found that if you edit the display option in Xlaunch (a part of Xming) to use Fullscreen instead of multiple windows, it speeds things up BIG TIME! Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

    Your programming geek from up north!

  • I find running X11 apps like this extremely useful so excellent episode for me. I’ve always used Cygwin but xming seems to be kept up-to-date very well. I particularly liked the idea of having it all run on a pen drive without needing access to the registry and not having to use “jerry rigged” methods to achieve it. However my support for xming quickly dropped when I went to download the portable version and got confronted with a message box informing me I wasn’t allowed to use (or even try) the portable version without “donating”, not really donating when your not allowed to use it unless you do.

    As has already been said, speed defiantly suffers over non-LAN networks but with compression enabled I found it was still usable.

    Excellent segment though, I’d love more on similar topics.

  • Ramon 5 years ago

    Hi Darren! I have a question, is it possible to forward MS Windows gui’s to a Mac (OSX) or a OSX gui to a windows machine? Or is it only possible to forward linux gui’s to other operating systems?

    Thanks in advance!


    • tokie 5 years ago

      I would also like to see some windows app forwarding, been playing with copssh for a few hours and not gotten anywhere.

      anyone knows a good tut

      Great episode as always, keep it up 😀

  • batcheej 5 years ago

    At approximately 9:50 into the show, when Darren opens Firefox, I saw something on the page that loaded. Is there going to be a future segment on it? It is such a powerful tool, would be nice to see. I’ll keep my eyes open.

  • xenomorph150 5 years ago

    Do I get that right that if you go to the Multi-Cam Editing Mode that you can just choose the video stream to be shown and that Premiere actually “remembers” that and you don’t have to blend / cut out the videos you don’t want to be shown – or is that just some kind of Multi-Cam preview, to look whats happening at all screens at the same time but with none function to actually choose the cams to be shown at what specific time in the end cut?

  • xenomorph150 5 years ago

    oh I already found an answer and some nice tut:

  • Dutch-Ice 5 years ago

    I’m looking for a video mixer to have multiple laptops using one beamer. I have to switch realtime between those systems. I want to use the VGA or Digital video output of those laptops. Do you have a solution for this?

  • ttist25 5 years ago


    $ ssh -v -X user@hostname
    $ virtualbox



  • ttist25 5 years ago


    I’ve got a headless Ubuntu VM server and I just ran virtualbox-ose from ssh. How powerful is that?

    Thanks Darren! I love this kind of stuff.

  • Gregg 5 years ago

    I’ve known about Hak5 for a while, but when you talked about this episode on the TNT show, you finally convinced me to watch Hak5. After watching you demonstrate Xming, I just had to try it. It worked on my first attempt. Great episode!

  • ttist25 5 years ago


    Thank you thank you thank you. This kind of stuff is great. I’m running VirtualBox GUI through SSH to manage my VM’s.


  • “GateKeeper” was in the The Net I believe.

  • If I had a dollar for every time Shannon said “damit” softly after screwing up…

  • While the fascination with said tech is understandable, what does one who discovers that his machine and subsequently every PC inside the network has been “taken over” by folks using some aamalgam of *nix/VM/consoles/CNAP/POE/Curses/etc…..botnet/unattended installs??? do to get back to NORMAL non VM/computing and controling my own box/permissions/etc???

    I’ll admit a wealth of mistakes in attacking whaa I thought was some standard malware with MBAM/SSD/CF and the like but despite errors, I currently sit in a room with not one, two, or even four PCs torn apart.. at the end of last year I was self employed, had a few K in the bank, and wasn’t doin too damn terrible… now I have two laptops dead, seven towers in varied states of assembly/disassembly and at day 60 (roughly.. first PC went down with the initial issue 12/11/10..) I am still downloading drivers, firmware, patches, and sending this missive on a Toshiba Laptop I just got last week at Walmart with the last of the cash I had to my name.. I finally have online again and can stop paying Kinkos after my daily hour at the library is spent.. then time to rip open the last 4GB unused USB key I have and download Barts or the like and try again to get one install on one box that wont somehow install a soft modem or bluetooth with PXE or “spoofs” of the media I try to install.. this is getting super long, but I’m pretty dead in the water if this doesn’t do it tonight… not to mention I’m spinning a live Linux Ubuntu with no drives in this lappy as it went to hell as soon as it booted and grabbed WiFi/Bluetooth ignoring my repeated Fn+F8.. anyway…. every HDD, external, internal, etc.. has failed and I’m outta cash, and whatever I have has all my software compromised pretty well so I’m at a loss… any advice greatly appreciated…

    Sorry for the hijack.,.. :p


  • wakes 4 years ago

    F*&@ mate! the ssh -X is awesome – so sick of VNC between my mac/*nix boxen over .g and now can crank up calibre client to import new eBooks to read in bed without any sluggisness leading to sleep-depriving hassle. (RDP is one thing M$ has brought well via Citrix over the years). Keep it coming!

  • You speak well Darrin, you guys put together a nice show. I wanted to tell you that the author of vi pronounces it “vee eye”
    and ever since it seems the most common way to pronounce it.
    Just thought I’d share that with you.

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