Using ssh -X user@host I can start programs on the host and X11 forwarding allows me to see their windows on the remote machine. However, I'd like to be able to forward/redirect existing windows.

How would I do that (if it's possible at all)?

Note, VNC is not an option (no server installed on the host and my user has limited permissions).


It looks like xpra is an active successor to xmove, and does exactly what you want. The devs bill it as "screen for X clients". While it needs to run on your remote server, it runs just fine out of a home folder. Besides python, xvfb is a runtime dependency.

Once you get it installed on the remote server, it's pretty easy to use.

xpra start :8 --start=xeyes

On your local machine, run:

xpra attach ssh:YOURSERVERHOST:8
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  • Bah, xvfb isn't installed by default. Anyways, a good answer for people without permission restrictions. Will wait a couple of days and accept if there's no better solution. :) – htorque Feb 24 '11 at 17:11
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    Hehe, I know this starts to sound ridiculous, but my xvfb package depends on xserver-common stuff and installs documentation and two executables: xvfb and xvfb-run. Could be a simple copy to your remote ~/bin.. – djeikyb Feb 24 '11 at 20:29
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    For those with permissions to install apps, it appears xpra has been in the Universe repositories since Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) – Firefeather Mar 4 '11 at 19:13
  • How does this move existing windows? xpra must be started before xeyes in the example. – sivann Jul 16 '14 at 7:40
  • @sivann I interpret "existing" to mean windows created before an ssh session (eg seated at the computer), not before the prereqs for the solution are in place. – djeikyb Jul 16 '14 at 14:39

I read on serverfault that you might be able to do that with xmove

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    With the caveat that it's no longer developed, and has no official web presence. It is in the 9.x repos I think. Rumour has it has issues (minor? major?) with current X11 releases. I tried to compile it without success, but I don't claim to know much beyond running make. – djeikyb Feb 24 '11 at 21:17

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