FastX is a remote desktop service developed by StarNet Communications, which allows you to connect from your personal machine to our systems using a normal graphical interface as if you were sitting at a department machine. FastX also has far less network lag than using X forwarding over regular SSH.

Detailed Instructions

  1. Follow the steps for setting up an ssh keypair. If you are running Windows, you will also need to install and run Pageant (described under the Windows ssh instructions).
  2. Download and install the FastX 3 desktop client from - CIS has a license for all of Brown, so the download links should appear after logging in.
  3. IMPORTANT: We are now running FastX version 3. Do not use the FastX version 2 client - the versions are incompatible.
    • OSX users - Drag the “FastX” icon into your /Applications directory to make it easier to find and run later.
    • 32-bit Linux users - the “Get FastX for Linux” link will download a 64-bit binary. Contact for a copy of the 32-bit binary.
  4. Run FastX. Click the plus sign at the top right to add a new connection configuration. You’ll be presented with two options, “ssh” and “web”. Select “ssh”. Fill out the form with the following information:
    • Name = [whatever you want]
    • Host =
    • Port = 22 [should be the default]
    • User = [your CS username]
    • Path = fastx-protocol [should be the default]
    • Forward Agent Connections = check this if you are on Windows and running Pageant, otherwise leave unchecked
  5. Click “Save” after entering the above information.
  6. You might be presented with a warning that “This host is not recognized by the system. Are you sure you want to continue?” Click Continue. This should create a new entry in the list. Double click on that - it should try to connect.
  7. Enter your key passphrase when prompted. (If you have not previously logged into FastX, ssh, or any lab machine, or if you have recently changed your University password, you will also be prompted for your University password and Duo 2-factor auth.)
  8. This should open a new window. You are now connected to FastX but have not created a session yet.
  9. The new window should present you with a few different session options: “GNOME”, “XFCE”, or “XTerm”. If you don’t know what these are, or don't have a preference between desktop environments, pick “XFCE”. Make sure Window mode is “Single”, then click “OK”.
  10. This should start a session on one of the virtual desktop machines in the FastX cluster, and open a window that looks like a normal desktop session. You might have to resize the window a bit.

Other Issues

If you have any issues not covered here, contact someone on the technical staff for help.