I currently have an OS X server (running 10.8.2) that has irssi installed, and is set up to send Growl notifications to my laptop when I am mentioned or have received a private message on IRC. However, Growl only appears to have options to start when a graphical login is done: trying to run it in a terminal over SSH gives:

$ /Applications/Growl.app/Contents/MacOS/Growl 
_RegisterApplication(), FAILED TO establish the default connection to the WindowServer, _CGSDefaultConnection() is NULL.

Running it as a launchd daemon also doesn't seem to work, as I can't use growlnotify to create a notification.

It runs normally when started as a login item or via the Finder, but this is unideal for a server machine, where I only want to login via SSH.

  • This question looks like a sub-case of the more general question: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/23382/… It may be that your only option is to set up a headless VNC session.
    – gosmond
    Feb 19, 2013 at 22:15
  • Are there a specific set of notifications you are looking to receive? Growl is designed to run in a user session, not as a true launch daemon. It may be better to see if there is another method that can accomplish what you are looking to do.
    – bispymusic
    Mar 8, 2013 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


I would really suggest doing this programmatically Diggory suggests, though I haven't used Growl on OSX for distributed messaging (I use it on a NAS running Linux with great results.)

Though, if that is ultimately unusable, have you tried logging into the computer and leaving your account logged in but deactivated using Fast User Switching?

ML (I think it was ML anyways) added the ability to allow multiple users simultaneous graphical sessions per computer, which might be appropriate for this, though honestly it's probably less strain on the system to do it programmatically.


You could try sending growl notifications via the network protocol instead of routing them through the Growl app. e.g. send the notifications to your laptop using a python script


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