xhost Man page

XHOST(1) General Commands Manual XHOST(1)


xhost – server access control program for X


xhost [[+-]name …]


The xhost program is used to add and delete host names or user names to
the list allowed to make connections to the X server. In the case of
hosts, this provides a rudimentary form of privacy control and secu‐
rity. It is only sufficient for a workstation (single user) environ‐
ment, although it does limit the worst abuses. Environments which
require more sophisticated measures should implement the user-based
mechanism or use the hooks in the protocol for passing other authenti‐
cation data to the server.


Xhost accepts the following command line options described below. For
security, the options that affect access control may only be run from
the “controlling host”. For workstations, this is the same machine as
the server. For X terminals, it is the login host.

-help Prints a usage message.

[+]name The given name (the plus sign is optional) is added to the list
allowed to connect to the X server. The name can be a host
name or a complete name (See NAMES for more details).

-name The given name is removed from the list of allowed to connect
to the server. The name can be a host name or a complete name
(See NAMES for more details). Existing connections are not
broken, but new connection attempts will be denied. Note that
the current machine is allowed to be removed; however, further
connections (including attempts to add it back) will not be
permitted. Resetting the server (thereby breaking all connec‐
tions) is the only way to allow local connections again.

+ Access is granted to everyone, even if they aren’t on the list
(i.e., access control is turned off).

– Access is restricted to only those on the list (i.e., access
control is turned on).

nothing If no command line arguments are given, a message indicating
whether or not access control is currently enabled is printed,
followed by the list of those allowed to connect. This is the
only option that may be used from machines other than the con‐
trolling host.

A complete name has the syntax “family:name” where the families are
as follows:

inet Internet host (IPv4)
inet6 Internet host (IPv6)
dnet DECnet host
nis Secure RPC network name
krb Kerberos V5 principal
local contains only one name, the empty string
si Server Interpreted

The family is case insensitive. The format of the name varies with the

When Secure RPC is being used, the network independent netname (e.g.,
“nis:unix.uid@domainname”) can be specified, or a local user can be
specified with just the username and a trailing at-sign (e.g.,

For backward compatibility with pre-R6 xhost, names that contain an at-
sign (@) are assumed to be in the nis family. Otherwise they are
assumed to be Internet addresses. If compiled to support IPv6, then all
IPv4 and IPv6 addresses returned by getaddrinfo(3) are added to the
access list in the appropriate inet or inet6 family.

The local family specifies all the local connections at once. However,
the server interpreted address “si:localuser:username” can be used to
specify a single local user. (See the Xsecurity(7) manual page for more

Server interpreted addresses consist of a case-sensitive type tag and a
string representing a given value, separated by a colon. For example,
“si:hostname:almas” is a server interpreted address of type hostname,
with a value of almas. For more information on the available forms of
server interpreted addresses, see the Xsecurity(7) manual page.

The initial access control list for display number n may be set by the
file /etc/Xn.hosts, where n is the display number of the server. See
Xserver(1) for details.

For each name added to the access control list, a line of the form
“name being added to access control list” is printed. For each name
removed from the access control list, a line of the form “name being
removed from access control list” is printed.


X(7), Xsecurity(7), Xserver(1), xdm(1), xauth(1), getaddrinfo(3)

DISPLAY to get the default host and display to use.


You can’t specify a display on the command line because -display is a
valid command line argument (indicating that you want to remove the
machine named “display” from the access list).

The X server stores network addresses, not host names, unless you use
the server-interpreted hostname type address. If somehow you change a
host’s network address while the server is still running, and you are
using a network-address based form of authentication, xhost must be
used to add the new address and/or remove the old address.

Bob Scheifler, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science,
Jim Gettys, MIT Project Athena (DEC).

X Version 11 xhost 1.0.7 XHOST(1)