July 4, 2011

Python - Taking Browser Screenshots With No Display (Selenium/Xvfb)

In my last two blog posts, I showed examples of using Selenium WebDriver to capture screenshots, and running in a headless (no X-server) mode.

This example combines the two solutions to capture screenshots inside a virtual display.

To achieve this, I use a combination of Selenium WebDriver and pyvirtualdisplay (which uses xvfb) to run a browser in a virtual display and capture screenshots.

the setup you need is:

  • Selenium 2 Python bindings: PyPI
  • pyvirtualdisplay Python package (depends on xvfb): PyPI

On Debian/Ubuntu Linux systems, you can install everything with:

$ sudo apt-get install python-pip xvfb xserver-xephyr
$ sudo pip install selenium

once you have it setup, the following code example should work:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from pyvirtualdisplay import Display
from selenium import webdriver

display = Display(visible=0, size=(800, 600))
display.start()

browser = webdriver.Firefox()
browser.get('http://www.google.com')
browser.save_screenshot('screenie.png')
browser.quit()

display.stop()

this will:

  • launch a virtual display
  • launch Firefox browser inside the virtual display
  • navigate to google.com
  • capture and save a screenshot
  • close the browser
  • stop the virtual display
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