Troubleshooting using SBGrid Programs with Remote Graphics

SBGrid programs can be used with a variety of remote graphics tools, as long as those tools are configured correctly. GUI programs using OpenGL (for example, coot or chimerax - in general, a program used for 3D visualization) can be more problematic than those without it (for example, ccp4i or relion).

Remote Graphics Tools

Remote graphics tools generally fall into two categories: ssh graphics forwarding, and remote "desktop" tools (for example, RealVNC, XPRA, OOD, FastX - although some of these can display single applications in addition to remote desktops).

Using ssh -Y or ssh -X requires less additional software, but can be problematic to configure correctly (and even when working, tends to be less robust and performant than other approaches).


  1. If the local system is MacOS and you're using ssh -Y or ssh -X, XQuartz needs to be installed and functional for local programs (in other words, echo $DISPLAY and launchctl getenv DISPLAY).
  2. Check the (Workstation Setup Instructions)[workstation_setup] for missing packages.
  3. Check if non-OpenGL programs work over the remote connection; if not, programs using OpenGL will definitely not work. If things are failing at this stage, the XOrg logs (Linux, typically under /var/log/Xorg.${n}.log, where ${n} is the session number) and XQuartz logs (MacOS, typically under ~/Library/Logs/X11/) usually have information that's helpful for troubleshooting.
  4. Check that glxinfo works over the remote connection, and is reporting an OpenGL version equal to or greater than that required by the program you're using. If glxinfo crashes, the same logs mentioned earlier are helpful for troubleshooting. If glxinfo isn't installed, please check the workstation setup page for missing dependencies.
  5. If there are still problems, when putting in support requests please include the relevant Xorg/XQuartz logs, glxinfo output, sbinfo output from the local and remote systems, and (for MacOS) the output of defaults read org.xquartz.X11 (and defaults read org.macos.xquartz).