Is it possible to restart an X11/Xwindows session without having to exit the server I've SSH'd to?

I'm currently using iTerm on OSX, and every so often X11 (I guess) times out (giving me the error below)

Vibrant applications require X Windows

and I have to exit the server, restart ITerm and then SSH back in which is frustrating. I've already tried a solution I saw previously by adding an X11 timeout parameter to my config like so:

host someserver
    User joe
    ForwardX11 yes
    ServerAliveInterval 300 

ForwardX11Timeout 595h

But it's still not totally robust, so to reiterate, can I, in any way, restart X11 without interrupting my connection status with the server?

Or better yet, is there some other method that can prevent it happening in the first place?!

  • Another method would be to start a VNC session on the server and then reconnect to that when the connection borks.
    – thrig
    May 9, 2016 at 17:17
  • Are you using ssh -X or ssh -Y to connect to the server?
    – derobert
    May 9, 2016 at 18:05
  • Neither, as I was under the impression that if you set ForwardX11 yes in ~/.ssh/config then -X or -Y were no longer needed?
    – Joe Healey
    May 9, 2016 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


You're probably seeing the xauth timeout that ForwardX11Trusted no sets. You can change the length of the timeout with ForwardX11Timeout, but unfortunately you can't set that very long—it will crash the X server (or maybe just error out in newer Xorgs). See the question Disable ForwardX11Timeout without ForwardX11Trusted in OpenSSH Client?

You can set ForwardX11Trusted yes or use ssh -Y to disable the timeout entirely, though.

  • Ok great, will give the Trusted flag a go!
    – Joe Healey
    May 11, 2016 at 14:50

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