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This project provides

  • Text workstation base for developers
  • GUI Workstation based on Text workstation


This Dockerfile creates a docker image and once it's executed it creates a container that runs X11 and SSH services.
SSH is available to connect the included Xpra server to setup X Windows sessions.

Xpra "is like screen for X"

  • Xpra + Xorg or Xpra+Xvfb provide Xwindows environment inside the container
  • Xpra allows for connections, similar to VNC, but provides a rootless window
  • Xpra client provides local Xwindows server for diplay of apps
  • Xpra provides detach/reattach capabilities for the Xwindows session
  • Xpra also uses a custom protocol that is self-tuning and relatively latency-insensitive, and thus is usable over worse links than standard X.
  • Xpra allows connection via SSH or simple TCP or TCP+AES encryption
    • This image uses TCP only, by default, and presumes the use of encrypted VPN

The client machine needs to have a X11 server installed (Xpra). See the "Notes" below.

The applications are served rootless, so the client machine manages the windows that are displayed.

This is a large kitchen-sink image intended to support developers working on cloud infrastructure
approx. 3.5GB

We include an ssh server to allow xpra connection setup over ssh
Default is to setup connections over TCP to enhance OSX connections via VPN

  • most VPN clients appear to break xpra setup over ssh, but with encryption on VPN, this is ok


  • Text
    • build tools: make cmake, automake, etc - git, git-flow toolchain
    • weechat
    • Tomb
    • grive
    • bitlbee
  • GUI
    • gvim
    • firefox
    • chromium
    • eclipse (4.3)
    • bluefish
    • meld
    • diffuse
    • smartgit
    • nautilus (for smartgit integration)
    • pidgin (for alternative to weechat
    • mrxvt
    • seahorse
    • wine1.7


##Quick Start

This example uses TCP connection which is avilable in ./docker-desktop by default, for use over VPN

  • see below for commandline ssh connection

    On application server

    docker pull guruvan/desktop-gui
    docker run -d --name username_desktop -p 1337:22 -p 9001:9000  guruvan/desktop-base
    docker-enter username_desktop
    su - docker
    echo "your_sekrit_passwd" > ~/.xprapass
    ./docker-desktop -d 10

    On local display server, use Xpra Launcher app to connect to port 9000 of that host
    with the password you set above

###Running the docker image created (-d: detached mode, -P: expose the port 22 on the host machine)

$ docker run --name username_desktop -d -P [username]/docker-desktop


$ docker run --name username_desktop -d -p 9999:22 -p 9001:9000 guruvan/desktop-base

The TCP port is bound after starting the container, so must be mapped explicitly on the commandline to start the container - if you're only using SSH for connections (generally recommended) then you may omit the port 9000 map, and/or use the "-P" to map all ports to the next available in Docker's port group.

###Getting the password generated during runtime

If using in production, it is wise to change this!!

$ echo $(docker logs $CONTAINER_ID | sed -n 1p)
User: docker Password: xxxxxxxxxxxx
# where xxxxxxxxxxxx is the password created by PWGen that contains at least one capital letter and one number


###Getting the container's external ssh port

$ docker port username_desktop  22
49153 # This is the external port that forwards to the ssh service running inside of the container as port 22

###Connecting to the container

If you have access, docker-enter is the simplest way to access your container, or you may use the included ssh server

  • Wise users will change the password and install a private SSH key into /home/docker/.ssh/authorized_keys

Install docker-enter:

docker run -it --rm -v /usr/local/bin:/target jpetazzo/nsenter 

Then enter the container

docker-enter username_desktop

####Starting the a new session

$ ifconfig | grep "inet addr:" 
inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask: # This is the LAN's IP for this machine

$ ssh docker@ -p 49153 "sh -c './docker-desktop -s 800x600 -d 10 > /dev/null 2>&1 &'" # Here is where we use the external port
docker@'s password: xxxxxxxxxxxx 

$ ./docker-desktop -h

Usage: docker-desktop [-s screen_size] [-d session_number]
-s : screen resolution (Default = 800x600
-d : session number (Default = 10)
-h : help

####Attaching to the session started

$ xpra --ssh="ssh -p 49153" attach ssh:docker@ # user@ip_address:session_number
docker@'s password: xxxxxxxxxxxx 

If you want to execute rootless programs, you just need to connect to the container via ssh and type:
DISPLAY=:[session_number] [program_name] &

Eg. DISPLAY=:10 firefox &


###On Windows:

###On OS X:

###On Linux:

  • Xpra: You can use apt-get to install it -> apt-get install xpra
  • Path: /usr/bin/xpra
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