Running a GUI on the Cluster (X11 Forwarding)

To use a graphical interface on the clusters, your connection needs to be set up for X11 forwarding, which will transmit the graphical window from the cluster back to your local machine.


  1. Download and Install X-Quartz v2.7.8 (newer versions may not work with our clusters).
  2. Log out and log back in to reset some variables
  3. When using ssh to log in to the clusters, use the -Y option to enable X11 forwarding. Example: ssh -Y


Our recommended software, MobaXterm, for connecting to the clusters from Windows is configured for X11 forwarding out of the box and should require no additional configuration or software.

Quick Test

A quick and simple test to check if X11 forwarding is working is to run the command xclock in the session you expect to be forwarding. After a short delay, you should see a window with a simple clock pop up.


Once configured, you'll usually want to use X11 forwarding on a compute node to do your work. To allocate a simple interactive session with X11 forwarding:

srun --x11 --pty -p interactive bash

For more slurm options, see our slurm guide.