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Python wrapper for running a display inside X virtual framebuffer (Xvfb)

Corey Goldberg - 2012, 2013


Install xvfbwrapper from PyPI:

pip install xvfbwrapper

System Requirements

  • Xvfb (sudo apt-get install xvfb, or similar)
  • Python 2.7 or 3.2+ (tested on py27, py32, py33, pypy)

About Xvfb (X Virtual Framebuffer)

In the X Window System, Xvfb or X virtual framebuffer is an X11 server that performs all graphical operations in memory, not showing any screen output. This virtual server does not require the computer it is running on to even have a screen or any input device. Only a network layer is necessary.

Example: Basic Usage

from xvfbwrapper import Xvfb

vdisplay = Xvfb()

# launch stuff inside virtual display here


Example: Headless Selenium WebDriver Tests

from selenium import webdriver
from xvfbwrapper import Xvfb

import unittest

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__':

This code uses selenium and xvfbwrapper to run a test with Firefox inside a headless display.

  • install selenium bindings: pip install selenium
  • Firefox will launch inside virtual display (headless)
  • browser is not shown while tests are run