I have a Mac laptop for work. I would like to keep my personal stuff off of my work computer. Obviously I can just ssh to my home computer and/or tunnel X using Quartz. But this always feels clunky, plus I don't get to use i3wm.

Is there a way to run something like a thin client using VirtualBox, where I can connect to my home machine as if I were sitting at the computer, letting me use my normal shell to login, and if so desired, startx?

  • VirtualBox creates a VM that has nothing but CPU, RAM and configured devices, so it is assumed that you install the OS inside. Thus, no thin client is possible. – Serge Feb 24 '16 at 7:53
  • If no thin client - is there any other option that would allow me to do what I want? i.e. login to my linux box (more or less) as if I were sitting there? – Wayne Werner Feb 24 '16 at 14:50
  • what exactly you would like to do? why simple X ssh tunnel is not acceptable? – Serge Feb 25 '16 at 19:37
  • It doesn't run i3, at least that I can figure out. I want the entire keybindings. VirtualBox provides that... – Wayne Werner Feb 25 '16 at 20:03
  • then you have no other option than to run some OS inside a VM, e.g. any Live CD of some Linux flavor – Serge Feb 27 '16 at 22:39

While you can't actually run a full-on thin client, you can do the next best thing - tunnel your entire X session. I found this solution at LinuxJournal.

xinit /usr/bin/xterm -- :1 &
ssh -fY remotehost /usr/bin/i3

(replace /usr/bin/i3 with whatever window manager you prefer)

xterm can really be anything, but xterm is only about a 3mb install on Arch Linux. I also installed:

  • xorg-xhost
  • xorg-server
  • xorg-xinit

(I may not have actually needed xorg-xhost to get this running).

I now have i3wm with all of my key bindings, and it works just like if I were sitting at the computer (plus some extra lag, of course).

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