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. 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. 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.
  2. 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 “gateway”. Select “ssh”. Fill out the form with the following information:
    • Name = [whatever you want]
    • Host =
    • Port = 22
    • User = [your CS username]
    • Path = fastx-protocol [should be the default]
    • Forward Agent Connections = [leave unchecked]
  3. Click “Save” after entering the above information.
  4. 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.
  5. Enter your password when prompted (the same password as for logging into department machines in person).
  6. This should open a new window. You are now connected to FastX but have not created a session yet.
  7. The new window should present you with three session options: “KDE”, “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”.
  8. 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.