Use stateside mainframe to sneak around geoblock?

This is probably a stupid question but one never knows unless one asks.

I got a stateside unix mainframe account given to me by the university. I got it a long time ago and I"m lucky to have it. They stopped letting alumni keep their computer accounts when the internet became popular. We are grandfathered in. That said, I don’t want to abuse anything too much. This is something that I don’t want to ask the computer administrator about just yet…

I access the computer via a split VPN. All traffic to the unix computer goes through the vpn. All other traffic goes through normal channels which is Taiwan (Damn!).
The only way I used to access the web though my unix machine was an antiquated program called “Lynx”. It is a text only program which in my day was great! But now, nothing is readable.

I once remembered a friend from another university using a graphical interface called “x-windows” He was using a dummy terminal from his home at the time. Here is the question now…
Is there a graphical interface still available that I could use with my unix account that will let me view United States Web from Taiwan.

I don’t intend on downloading TV shows, that would probably be considered abuse, but I do want to access geo-blocked mp3 sites and make some purchases.
Furthermore, a graphical interface would make it easier to use my basic account to create my webpage.
Please let me know what’s out there and I should ask for.

Witopia charges $40 for a year of their basic PPTP VPN service. You can use it with Windows and OSX, as well as Windows Mobile, Android and iOS, possibly also with Linux as well. Would that work?

Yes, the technology exists to do this with Unix/Linux. My workplace here in the US runs on Linux, and I do exactly this when using PayPal from overseas; otherwise the morons block my account, even when I am paying a vendor that I have paid before from the US.

There are two ways (that I can think of) to run graphical (“X-Windows”; see for more than you wanted to know about it) programs on a remote Unix/Linux machine and have them display on a local PC or Mac.

The sticking point is that the Unix/Linux server that you have access to may not support either of them. Many administrators of Unix machines used by lots of people disable the use of X-Windows (graphical) applications, because they use more CPU cycles than text-mode programs do, which slows the machine down for everyone else. So you would need to figure out whether the server that you have access to supports either of these methods, whether by asking the administrator, by asking other users, or by having a Unix-savvy friend try to run the appropriate commands. It is quite possible, probable even in the case of a penny-wide university, that they have been disabled. In that case, you are out of luck and should consider a VPN as the previous poster suggested.

The first thing to try would be to log in over text mode and try running the command “which vncserver”. If it says “command not found” or something similar, then the second method is out. You could also try “which xclock”. If it says “command not found”, then most likely no X-Windows programs are available, and the first method is also out. But if either of these commands returns the path to a program, then you may be in business.

If you get lucky and your Unix/Linux server administrator has not disabled graphical applications, here are the two possibilities for connecting.

The first method, which is more likely to be supported in my experience, is to get an “X-Windows Server” application for your Windows PC. There are plenty of them, but they are marketed mostly to companies, so they are expensive. Also, they are a pain in the a** to set up; you will probably need tech support to get it connecting properly. That’s another reason why they are expensive.

The one most commonly used by businesses is OpenText Exceed ( but it costs USD 545! Ouch.
The cheapest commercial product I see is by NetSarang and costs USD 149: I don’t know if it is any good, or if it is junk.
There is a freeware product “Xming” at I don’t know if it is any good either, but at least the price is right. You will probably need help from a friendly computer nerd to get it set up, though.

The second method for running graphical applications on a remote Unix/Linux box is the Virtual Network Console, “VNC”. This is the one I use. You log into the Unix machine in text mode and run the command “vncserver”. Then you run a VNC client on your PC. It brings up a window on your PC that contains a GUI desktop interface running on the Unix server.

Connecting over X-Windows or over VNC is not always straightforward, because of firewalls. You may need to create an “SSH tunnel” using a program like PuTTY. So definitely get some help from a friendly neighborhood computer person.

If your current efforts fail, try