Take the 2-minute tour ×
Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.. It's 100% free, no registration required.

On one of my machines (debian squeeze), I have just upgraded the standard version of Iceweasel provided with debian squeeze stable (3.5.16). I am now using the version available with the backports repository (18.0.1). I have upgraded Icedove, too.

When Iceweasel or Icedove are called/run on the machine where they are installed, everything is fine. However, I have trouble using the new versions via ssh and through X forwarding. I am fairly sure it's not a basic issue with the X forwarding configuration because other applications (like gimp or an earlier version of Iceweasel) work well.

Here's a screenshot of Iceweasel 3.5.16 (from a machine called "box"), working fine:

Iceweasel 3 through X forwarding

This is the blank window I get with the newer version of Iceweasel (18.0.1) or Icedove (10) through ssh/X forwarding on the same notebook, just called from a different machine ("boom") for test reasons:

Icedove through X forwarding

One more hint: When I called the same new version of Iceweasel from an older debian istallation (lenny), I got a display in the window, but it crashed a lot (e.g. segmentation fault for some sizing issue with dialog boxed like Google's input bar).

Since the exact same problem exists with both Iceweasel and Icedove, I am led to thinking that the newer versions of mozilla software are either buggy when confronted with X forwarding or require a configuration of X forwarding that I am not aware of.


... probably the latter. Things work when I access Iceweasel from one notebook (i386/debian squeeze), and the problems occur when I use another notebook (ppc/debian squeeze). Maybe I need some good hints in which config files I should look for differences...

share|improve this question
I would try the various X11 options mentioned in the man page. Particularly, --sync --no-xshm might help, at the expense of performance. You may also try -safe-mode via a console to get "a bit more debugging messages"; that might provide some clues as to what's happening. Also keep in mind that X forwarding really just means you're connecting to some host other than localhost; it's supposed to be all the same as far as the application is concerned. –  Michael Kjörling Feb 10 '13 at 12:43
@MichaelKjörling Neither of these options cures the problem (or even produces any output). When I ssh from the machine Iceweasel is on to the notebook in question, and from there back to the original machine, and call Iceweasel from the shell, it works. ps -e seems to prove it's really running via ssh: 2669 pts/5 00:00:39 iceweasel Looks like something needed by Icewesel is missing on that one notebook, which is weird because other applications or earlier versions run fine via ssh / X forwarding. –  zebonaut Feb 10 '13 at 18:04
See this post, that might help. –  terdon Feb 10 '13 at 19:03
What happens to the browser - your screen-shot shows Thunderbird/Icedove). Does it display anything (e.g. contents of a page is readable but not menus/...)? Do you have any errors/complaints in the console? –  peterph Feb 11 '13 at 0:09
@peterph The browser did the same thing (except for the password window). I'm not aware I have changed anything - but recently it's not even an empty window. –  zebonaut Feb 24 '13 at 9:43

1 Answer 1

Consider running a headless X server (e.g. Xvnc) on the remote machine - connect to it with VNC (tunnelled through ssh connection) and run the browser in the remote X server. While it doesn't solve the problem directly, it actually might give you some performance boost, since the VNC protocol can compress data and more importantly will keep the applications running even if your ssh connection dies - hence you'll be able to reconnect later. The downside is you'll probably have troubles playing videos (especially flash) and no sound (unless you redirect it over to your machine).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.