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run headless display inside X virtual framebuffer (Xvfb)

Project description

Manage headless displays with Xvfb (X virtual framebuffer)

About xvfbwrapper:

xvfbwrapper is a python wrapper for controlling Xvfb.

About Xvfb:

Xvfb (X virtual framebuffer) is a display server implementing the X11 display server protocol. It runs in memory and does not require a physical display. Only a network layer is necessary.

Xvfb is especially useful for running acceptance tests on headless servers.

Install xvfbwrapper from PyPI:

pip install xvfbwrapper

System Requirements:

  • Xvfb (sudo apt-get install xvfb, or similar)
  • Python 2.7 or 3.3+


Basic Usage:

from xvfbwrapper import Xvfb

vdisplay = Xvfb()

# launch stuff inside
# virtual display here.


Basic Usage, specifying display geometry:

from xvfbwrapper import Xvfb

vdisplay = Xvfb(width=1280, height=740, colordepth=16)

# launch stuff inside
# virtual display here.


Usage as a Context Manager:

from xvfbwrapper import Xvfb

with Xvfb() as xvfb:
    # launch stuff inside virtual display here.
    # It starts/stops around this code block.

Testing Example: Headless Selenium WebDriver Tests:

import unittest

from selenium import webdriver
from xvfbwrapper import Xvfb

class TestPages(unittest.TestCase):

    def setUp(self):
        self.xvfb = Xvfb(width=1280, height=720)
        self.browser = webdriver.Firefox()

    def testUbuntuHomepage(self):
        self.assertIn('Ubuntu', self.browser.title)

    def testGoogleHomepage(self):
        self.assertIn('Google', self.browser.title)

if __name__ == '__main__':

The test class above uses selenium and xvfbwrapper to run each test case with Firefox inside a headless display.

  • virtual display is launched
  • Firefox launches inside virtual display (headless)
  • browser is not shown while tests are run
  • conditions are asserted in each test case
  • browser quits during cleanup
  • virtual display stops during cleanup

Look Ma’, no browser!

(You can also take screenshots inside the virtual display for diagnosing test failures)

Project details

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