19 Jul 2012

X11 Forwarding: Or How to use my favorite Calculator in OSX

I switched to a Macbook Air a few months ago and I’ve been generally quite happy with the setup.

One thing I’m unhappy with is the availability of my two favorite calculator programs. On Linux distos I’m accustomed to installing ‘qalculate’ and on Windows it’s been GraphCalc. I tried to find equivalent programs under OSX, giving it all of 15 min of effort, but couldn’t find a robust solution with good history, nice data entry, etc.

So, I decided to stick with my favorite (‘Qalculate’). I then tried installing it from source under OSX which didn’t succeed. I then tried to do the same with graphcalc’s Linux source, with the same result.

At this point I remembered toying around with X-forwarding over SSH. Since I had already installed the X11 environment for running GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), it was trivial to que up a virtual instance of Debian Linux under Parallels. I installed Qalculate in that virtual instance and used the ssh command for X-forwarding: ssh -X username@server\_name 'qalculate-gtk &'

The result is that I have a virtual instance of Debian running in the background, my normal OSX interface, and my favorite calculate ready to go (as if it were a native OSX application).

Thanks SSH!