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Run GUI apps with docker

· 3 min read
Hreniuc Cristian-Alexandru

Debian host - ubuntu docker:

# Allow x11 forwarding
xhosts +

docker run --rm=true --name="container_name" -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY -v /tmp/.X11-unix/:/tmp/.X11-unix -it image_name /bin/bash
# This is the most important part from the command:
# -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY -v /tmp/.X11-unix/:/tmp/.X11-unix

Run GUI apps on docker without xserver installed on host

We have three layers: A -> My desktop PC**B -> Host server(runs docker) C -> docker container that runs on BHow to connect to C and run a GUI app from A? Without having installed xserver on B** (no -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY -v /tmp/.X11-unix/:/tmp/.X11-unix options given to the docker run command). I did it this way:

  1. Create a docker image with ssh running on it: Here
  FROM ubuntu:16.04

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y openssh-server
RUN mkdir /var/run/sshd
RUN echo 'root:screencast' | chpasswd
RUN sed -i 's/PermitRootLogin prohibit-password/PermitRootLogin yes/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config

# SSH login fix. Otherwise user is kicked off after login
RUN sed '[email protected]\s*required\s*[email protected] optional [email protected]' -i /etc/pam.d/sshd

ENV NOTVISIBLE in users profile
RUN echo export VISIBLE=now >> /etc/profile

CMD [/usr/sbin/sshd, -D]
  1. Build the image: docker build -t ubuntu_sshd .

  2. Run the container: docker run -d -P --name test_sshd ubuntu_sshd

  3. Get port of the docker container: docker port test_sshd 22

  4. Now connect to it using ssh:

    ssh [email protected] -p port
    # The password is ``screencast``.
    [email protected]:/#
  5. Enable X11Forwarding : Add X11Forwarding yes to /etc/ssh/sshd_config

  6. Disable X11UseLocalhost : Add X11UseLocalhost no to /etc/ssh/sshd_config

  7. Reload ssh config: /etc/init.d/ssh reload

  8. Exit from the ssh session

  9. All those commands were made from the B machine(from 5 - 8 were run on the docker container)

  10. Now go to your desktop machine A and connect via ssh on the docker machine(also enable x forwarding on your destktop PC), using the ip of B and the port you got from the command at step 4:

  # Allow xserver forward(allow clients to connect to your x server)
$ xhost +
# Connect via ssh and forward the xserver `-X`
$ ssh -X [email protected]_host_ip -p docker_port
# The password is ``screencast``.
[email protected]:/# apt-get install x11-apps -y
[email protected]:/# xeyes
# Magic happens!!!


# Debian with sshd
FROM debian
RUN apt-get update

RUN apt-get install -y openssh-server

RUN echo 'root:password' | chpasswd

RUN mkdir -p /var/run/sshd && sed -i s/UsePrivilegeSeparation.*//g /etc/ssh/sshd_config \
&& sed -i 's/PermitRootLogin without-password//' /etc/ssh/sshd_config \
&& touch /root/.Xauthority \
&& true

RUN sed -i 's/PermitRootLogin .*/PermitRootLogin yes/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config

RUN echo X11UseLocalhost no >> /etc/ssh/sshd_config
RUN echo PermitRootLogin yes >> /etc/ssh/sshd_config
RUN echo UsePrivilegeSeparation no >> /etc/ssh/sshd_config


CMD [/usr/sbin/sshd, -D]