Enabling framebufferr without X

I’d like to view images and graphics in a shell/terminal/command line without X.

Because I’d like to set up a fully remote development environment, and Emacs’ Org-Mode uses PNG files to render LaTeX and of course to plot images, I’d like to be able to view simple PNG files in terminal mode.

Now, I can install a desktop, like Unity or a more lightweight one, and then use that to run GUI Emacs (or surf the internet for that matter). That works for rendering images. But it is more resource-heavy than I’d like.

I know this can be done with ImageMagick, Dvipng, or more probably fbi or fim, if I can get the framebuffer to work. Those tools work from the command line without an X window.

Is this possible? I’m working on an Ubuntu 14.04. Thanks!

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Ryan Quinn
DigitalOcean Employee
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October 3, 2016
Accepted Answer

even xvfb would still require X so I would recommend going with a lightweight based solution. This script can be used from the CLI or as a user-data script on the create page and will set up a super lightweight remotely accessible desktop:

export DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive;
apt-get update;
apt-get -y install blackbox xterm;
add-apt-repository -y ppa:x2go/stable;
apt-get update;
apt-get -y install x2goserver x2goserver-xsession;

(If you run this as a user-data script it may take 5+ minutes to complete after your droplet comes online, you can view it’s progress if you log in before it completes with tail -f /var/log/cloud-init-output.log (use Ctrl+c to stop tailing the file).

Once this script has finished running you can connect to it with the X2Go client. Select a “Custom Desktop” instead of one of the pre-defined options and enter “blackbox” as the command to run.

This will give you a window manager. Right-clicking the desktop will display a menu with one option being to start up xterm.

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