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I'm trying to get Xvfb to run when the system starts up on Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick), but it's not working. In /etc/rc.local, I have the following:

/root/ >> /var/log/start_xvfb.log 2>&1
exit 0

And in /root/ I have:

#!/bin/sh -e
startx -- `which Xvfb` :0 -screen 0 1024x768x24 &
exit 0

After rebooting the machine, the log file (/var/log/start_xvfb.log) contains:

[dix] Could not init font path element /usr/share/fonts/X11/cyrillic, removing from list!
waiting for X server to shut down

Given that content in the log file, it seems like the call to "startx -- `which Xvfb` :0 -screen 0 1024x768x24" is being made, but the process is killed soon thereafter.

I want to start Xvfb on boot because I need to run Firefox on a remote server that doesn't have a monitor display. If I run /etc/rc.local after SSH'ing to the remote machine, Xvfb starts without a problem and I can launch Firefox via "firefox --display=:0 &". If I try to run Firefox using that command without first starting Xvfb, I get the message "Error: cannot open display: :0".

Note that I am not trying to actually see the display on my local workstation. I want the application to display on the remote machine's (virtual, in memory) display.

Any ideas why X server is shutting down on the remote machine immediately after it starts? Is there a better way to have Xvfb start upon system boot?

Thanks in advance for any help.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I suppose the shell TERMs it when it exits, which would be immediately, due to the '&'. Maybe you want to use start-stop-daemon? E.g:

start-stop-daemon --start -b -x /usr/bin/Xvfb :1

I suppose if you want the help of the startx wrapper, you may want to run your shellscript instead.

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That worked, thanks! – user75894 Mar 28 '11 at 13:21

You can use my init script. It's based on /etc/init.d/skeleton and seems to work well:

#! /bin/sh
# Provides:          Xvfb
# Required-Start:    $remote_fs $syslog
# Required-Stop:     $remote_fs $syslog
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: Start Xvfb.
# Description:       Start the X virtual framebuffer.

# Author: Hannes Brandstaetter-Mueller <>
# Please remove the "Author" lines above and replace them
# with your own name if you copy and modify this script.

# Do NOT "set -e" 

# PATH should only include /usr/* if it runs after the script
DESC="X virtual framebuffer" 
DAEMON_ARGS=":1 -screen 0 640x480x24" 

# Exit if the package is not installed
[ -x "$DAEMON" ] || exit 0

# Read configuration variable file if it is present
[ -r /etc/default/$NAME ] && . /etc/default/$NAME

# Load the VERBOSE setting and other rcS variables
. /lib/init/

# Define LSB log_* functions.
# Depend on lsb-base (>= 3.0-6) to ensure that this file is present.
. /lib/lsb/init-functions

# Function that starts the daemon/service
        # Return
        #   0 if daemon has been started
        #   1 if daemon was already running
        #   2 if daemon could not be started
        start-stop-daemon --start --background --quiet --pidfile $PIDFILE --exec $DAEMON --test > /dev/null \
                || return 1
        start-stop-daemon --start --background --quiet --pidfile $PIDFILE --exec $DAEMON -- \
                $DAEMON_ARGS \
                || return 2
        # Add code here, if necessary, that waits for the process to be ready
        # to handle requests from services started subsequently which depend
        # on this one.  As a last resort, sleep for some time.

# Function that stops the daemon/service
        # Return
        #   0 if daemon has been stopped
        #   1 if daemon was already stopped
        #   2 if daemon could not be stopped
        #   other if a failure occurred
        start-stop-daemon --stop --quiet --retry=TERM/30/KILL/5 --pidfile $PIDFILE --name $NAME
        [ "$RETVAL" = 2 ] && return 2
        # Wait for children to finish too if this is a daemon that forks
        # and if the daemon is only ever run from this initscript.
        # If the above conditions are not satisfied then add some other code
        # that waits for the process to drop all resources that could be
        # needed by services started subsequently.  A last resort is to
        # sleep for some time.
        start-stop-daemon --stop --quiet --oknodo --retry=0/30/KILL/5 --exec $DAEMON
        [ "$?" = 2 ] && return 2
        # Many daemons don't delete their pidfiles when they exit.
        rm -f $PIDFILE
        return "$RETVAL" 

# Function that sends a SIGHUP to the daemon/service
do_reload() {
        # If the daemon can reload its configuration without
        # restarting (for example, when it is sent a SIGHUP),
        # then implement that here.
        start-stop-daemon --stop --signal 1 --quiet --pidfile $PIDFILE --name $NAME
        return 0

case "$1" in
        [ "$VERBOSE" != no ] && log_daemon_msg "Starting $DESC" "$NAME" 
        case "$?" in
                0|1) [ "$VERBOSE" != no ] && log_end_msg 0 ;;
                2) [ "$VERBOSE" != no ] && log_end_msg 1 ;;
        [ "$VERBOSE" != no ] && log_daemon_msg "Stopping $DESC" "$NAME" 
        case "$?" in
                0|1) [ "$VERBOSE" != no ] && log_end_msg 0 ;;
                2) [ "$VERBOSE" != no ] && log_end_msg 1 ;;
       status_of_proc "$DAEMON" "$NAME" && exit 0 || exit $?
        # If do_reload() is not implemented then leave this commented out
        # and leave 'force-reload' as an alias for 'restart'.
        #log_daemon_msg "Reloading $DESC" "$NAME" 
        #log_end_msg $?
        # If the "reload" option is implemented then remove the
        # 'force-reload' alias
        log_daemon_msg "Restarting $DESC" "$NAME" 
        case "$?" in
                case "$?" in
                        0) log_end_msg 0 ;;
                        1) log_end_msg 1 ;; # Old process is still running
                        *) log_end_msg 1 ;; # Failed to start
                # Failed to stop
                log_end_msg 1
        #echo "Usage: $SCRIPTNAME {start|stop|restart|reload|force-reload}" >&2
        echo "Usage: $SCRIPTNAME {start|stop|status|restart|force-reload}" >&2
        exit 3

put that in /etc/init.d/xvfbd and then run

sudo update-rc.d xvfbd defaults

Now it should auto-run on boot.

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