Well, I discovered something pretty useful recently.

I’ve known for awhile that you can use the Terminal program bundled with Mac OS X to connect to the engineering lab, and access your account. If you have an account there, you can try it by typing this command into the terminal:

ssh yourlogin@remote.engg.ucalgary.ca

Replace “yourlogin” with the username you use to log into the lab computers. It will prompt you for the corresponding password. Once you’re in, you can use the Terminal just like you were at the lab computer, which means you have access to all your files. This is really handy for moving around files, but you may quickly notice one problem: you can’t launch any application that requires a GUI, like xemacs. This kinda sucks.

But there is a solution (for Mac OS X)!

It requires a program called X11, which is either in your Applications folder, or in your Utilities folder in your Applications folder. If it isn’t, you might have to install it from your Mac OS X installer disk (it usually is on the last disk).

When you launch it, you will notice it looks like the terminal. Well, it’s a bit more than that. It can run programs with GUIs!
(Want to see an example? Type xeyes in the window and press enter.)

Now, let’s log into the Engineering lab using this program, but we’re going to use a slightly different command:

ssh -X yourlogin@remote.engg.ucalgary.ca

As before, you’ll want to replace yourlogin with the username you use to login, and then enter your password when it asks you for it. And when you login, it will look like what we had before with the Terminal. Now, try to use xemacs:

xemacs writeup

Excellent, we can now edit our files as if we were using one of the lab computers. Good luck!

Note: I hit a snag with the fonts not showing up properly in XEmacs. The longer way to fix it: If you know what fink is, you can use that to install these packages (at least one of them fixes it):

  • root-freetype
  • freetype
  • intlfonts
  • type1inst
  • freetype
  • freefonts
  • xfontpath

If you don’t know what fink is, don’t bother installing it just for this, that would be too much of a hassle. I’ll figure something out, or maybe somebody else will.