[R] Tunnelling X for R graphics

Adam D. I. Kramer adik at ilovebacon.org
Mon Feb 2 20:20:37 CET 2009

Indeed, I am running R in screen. That is the context in which this error

The problem is that screen passes $DISPLAY as the $DISPLAY for the actual
terminal. So when the ssh session dies, the X11 connection is broken.

The REST of R works fine...which is why I use screen in the first place. My
data is not lost, etc., however it tells me I need to save and quit
immediately.  That is my concern.


On Sat, 31 Jan 2009, Dylan Beaudette wrote:

> Try starting your R session after starting a 'screen' session. Like this:
> $> screen
> $> R
> # do stuff, when taking a break do CTRL-A D to disconnect
> # use as normal
> See the man page for screen, it is basically a terminal multiplexer
> that can gracefully accommodate connection failures. If you get
> disconnected, re-connect, and then re-attach the screen process:
> $> screen -r
> and you should be ok.
> Cheers,
> Dylan
> On 1/31/09, Adam D. I. Kramer <adik at ilovebacon.org> wrote:
>> Dear colleagues,
>>  	I run R on a few different machines, and view graphs and the like by
>> tunnelling X through SSH to my local machine. This is useful for me because
>> my local machine can't easily handle some of the data sets I work with.
>>  	However, when an ssh connection dies, the tunnelled X session also
>> dies, which breaks R's device connection, generating this error:
>>> Error: X11 fatal IO error: please save work and shut down R
>> ...that's kinda scary, so I quit(save="yes") and then run R again.
>>  	The problem, and maybe I'm just whining here, is that because the
>> data sets are large this takes several minutes where I'm basically just
>> sitting around.  This happens once every other day as the VPN software I'm
>> using "times out" after about 24 hours and thus the ssh session dies.
>>  	I can't really guess at why a broken X session would corrupt a
>> running session of R so severely that it would need to be completely
>> restarted.  Can anyone explain this to me?  Or perhaps (hopefully) someone
>> has enough knowledge of the X11 device to be able to tell me that I can
>> ignore this message, and just use dev.off() and then X11("localhost:10") to
>> open a new working X11 connection?
>> Cordially,
>> Adam Kramer
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