From: John Stone (
Date: Thu Jul 17 2008 - 22:12:18 CDT

  Yes, this can be done, but there are a few caveats.
Unlike Linux which is perfectly happy without a connection to
the X-windows server when running in text mode, some of the MacOS X
system libraries like to have a connection to the windowing system,
so although you can run the default VMD 1.8.6 build in text mode,
you may have to be logged in on the system console, depending on which
version of MacOS your system is running. The newer revs of MacOS don't
behave this way, so it's less of an issue now than it used to be.

In any case, in order to run the MacOS X build of VMD in text mode,
you'll need to do this, or something equivalent.
First, you must set the VMDDIR environment variable, normally done
by the graphical startup scripts, set it to the "vmd" directory contained
within the application bundle:

(csh shell):
  setenv VMDDIR "/scratch/VMD/VMD 1.8.7 alpha 20 (CUDA).app/Contents/vmd"

(bourne shell/bash):
  VMDDIR="/scratch/VMD/VMD 1.8.7 alpha 20 (CUDA).app/Contents/vmd"
  export VMDDIR
Once set, you can execute VMD in text mode, like this
(ignore the complaint about not being able to contact the
 Window server, this is the issue I alluded to above):

johns{44} "$VMDDIR"/vmd_MACOSXX86 -dispdev text
_RegisterApplication(), FAILED TO establish the default connection to the WindowServer, _CGSDefaultConnection() is NULL.
Info) VMD for MACOSXX86, version 1.8.7a20 (March 26, 2008)
Info) Email questions and bug reports to
Info) Please include this reference in published work using VMD:
Info) Humphrey, W., Dalke, A. and Schulten, K., `VMD - Visual
Info) Molecular Dynamics', J. Molec. Graphics 1996, 14.1, 33-38.
Info) -------------------------------------------------------------
Info) Multithreading available, 8 CPUs detected.
Info) Detected 1 CUDA accelerator:
Info) [0]: 'GeForce 8800 GT' 0.60 GHz, Compute 1.1, 511MB RAM
vmd > quit

Let me know if you need additional assistance with this.

  John Stone

On Thu, Jul 17, 2008 at 04:08:03PM -0700, Brian Kidd wrote:
> Hello,
> Is there a way to run vmd without the graphical display on Mac 10.4
> (VMD 1.8.6)? In Linux this is achieved by vmd -dispdev text, but this
> doesn't work from a terminal in mac.
> Thanks,
> -Brian

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