James Percival

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Last updated : 30th August 2018

Running an X11 connection with docker

It’s conceivable that you might want to run an X11 based application inside a docker container. If the host system is a mac with XQuartz installed, then this StackOverflow post contains the kernel of one method to do so. Note that getting this running may require modifying your XQuartz defaults by running the command

defaults write org.macosforge.xquartz.X11 enable_iglx -bool true

in the terminal.

Putting this all together, the following script produces a wrapper which automatically generates an x connection in a docker command.

#!/usr/bin/env bash


# Grab the ip address of this box
IPADDR=$(ifconfig $NIC | grep "inet " | awk '{print $2}')

DISP_NUM=$(jot -r 1 100 200)  # random display number between 100 and 200

PORT_NUM=$((6000 + DISP_NUM)) # so multiple instances of the container won't interfer with eachother

socat TCP-LISTEN:${PORT_NUM},reuseaddr,fork UNIX-CLIENT:\"$DISPLAY\" 2>&1 > /dev/null &

touch $XAUTH
old_auth=`xauth nlist $DISPLAY | sed -e 's/^..../ffff/'`

docker $1 \
    -v $XSOCK:$XSOCK:rw \
    -v $XAUTH:$XAUTH:rw \

rm -f $XAUTH
kill %1       # kill the socat job launched above

tags: docker x11