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Headless mode

Configuring X server in headless Linux environment

DotNetBrowser library can be used in the headless Linux environment, given the X server is running.

Here is how to start the X Server:

1. Install Xvfb server

For example, this can be done via apt on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS or other supported Debian-based distributives:

sudo apt install xvfb

2. Run your .NET application

Use the xvfb-run command to run the command you need in a virtual X server environment. For example, you can wrap dotnet run command with xvfb-run to run your application from the source code:

xvfb-run --server-args="-screen 0 800x600x24+32" dotnet run

It is mandatory to specify the screen size and the color depth.

You can also use xvfb-run to define an entrypoint of your Docker container:

ENTRYPOINT xvfb-run --server-args='-screen 0 800x600x24+32' dotnet Example.Console.dll

Check live demo development container configuration in our quickstart repository.

About the “headless” command line flag

Chromium 58 and higher support the --headless command line flag which works for Linux only.

The flag allows to run Chromium in Linux headless environment without starting the X server. This flag is designed for the case when you just need to run Chromium in headless environment, load some URL, and attach to the loaded web page using DevTools via the --remote-debugging-port switch. For example:

chrome --headless --remote-debugging-port=9222

In such case you load the localhost:9222 web page in a web browser application and work with the loaded web page using DevTools.

As you can see, the --headless command line flag is designed to be used when you need to load a single web page and work with it via DevTools. We checked Chromium’s source code and figured out that this flag forces Chromium to use a separate, limited version of the Chromium API that does not support most (~80-90%) of the features used in DotNetBrowser.

It means that this flag disables most of the DotNetBrowser functionality, such as loading different web pages by URL, HTML, navigating backward and forward, executing JavaScript, etc.

This is why this flag is NOT supported by DotNetBrowser, and we recommend you to start the X server in order to use DotNetBrowser in a headless Linux environment.

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