I am following this example of how to run an X11 app in a docker container. I am on Ubuntu 20.04 and using X11:


My Dockerfile:

FROM ubuntu:20.04
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y x11-apps
ARG user=hakon
ARG home=/home/$user
RUN groupadd -g 1000 $user
RUN useradd -d $home -s /bin/bash -m $user -u 1000 -g 1000 \
        && echo $user:ubuntu | chpasswd \
        && adduser $user sudo
USER $user
ENV HOME $home
COPY entrypoint.sh .
ENTRYPOINT ["./entrypoint.sh"] 

where entrypoint.sh is:

xclock  # <-- This is the X11 application I am testing with. It shows a clock in a Window
echo "Done."
exec bash

I build the image using:

$ docker build -t gui-test-ubuntu-2004 .

Then run the container with:

$ docker run -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY \
       -h $HOSTNAME -v $HOME/.Xauthority:/home/hakon/.Xauthority gui-test-ubuntu-2004

The output is:

Error: Can't open display: :0

and the xclock gui window is not showing. What am I missing here?

  • Does this answer your question? Is it possible to run Docker container and show its graphical application window on host?
    – N0rbert
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 8:14
  • @N0rbert Thanks for the link! It still does not work with --user 1000:1000. I tried this command: docker run -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix -e DISPLAY --user 1000:1000 gui-test-ubuntu-2004. Still the same error message: Error: Can't open display: :0 Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 8:27
  • Try to simply repeat commands from my Q&A then adapt yours. The 1000 is not really constant, it is value of id -u and id -g (user and group identifiers).
    – N0rbert
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 8:28
  • 1
    Snap may be a reason, I have installed it as docker.io package from default repositories. Then added my user to the docker group.
    – N0rbert
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 10:40
  • 1
    Yes, I think that snap might be the issue here, see this issue: "snap causes several restictions. --hostdisplay does not work because it is not possible to share unix sockets from host, in this case the X unix socket in /tmp/.X11-unix" Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 10:47

3 Answers 3


The problem is most likely that you installed docker with snap. According to mviereck the maintainer of x11docker

snap causes several restictions. --hostdisplay does not work because it is not possible to share unix sockets from host, in this case the X unix socket in /tmp/.X11-unix

A workaround is to an Xephyr X server with x11docker. Instead of running docker run ... gui-test-ubuntu-2004, use:

x11docker --xephyr gui-test-ubuntu-2004

The second alternative is to remove the snap installation of docker, see this answer, and then reinstall docker with apt-get install:

  1. Remove docker:

     sudo snap remove docker
  2. Go to https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/dists/ and choose your Ubuntu version, then browse to pool/stable/ and download the 3 .deb files:

    • containerd.io_1.2.13-2_amd64.deb

    • docker-ce_19.03.11_3-0_ubuntu-focal_amd64.deb

    • docker-ce-cli_19.03.11_3-0_ubuntu-focal_amd64.deb

  3. Install them in the following order:

     sudo apt-get install ./containerd.io_1.2.13-2_amd64.deb
     sudo apt-get install ./docker-ce-cli_19.03.11_3-0_ubuntu-focal_amd64.deb
     sudo apt-get install ./docker-ce_19.03.11_3-0_ubuntu-focal_amd64.deb
  4. Add your user to the docker group to avoid having to type sudo to run docker:

    sudo addgroup --system docker
    sudo usermod -a -G docker $USER
  5. Restart the computer at this point to activate the new user and group settings

  6. Test the docker installation by running :

    docker run hello-world

You should now be able to run the original docker run command:

docker run -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY \
       -h $HOSTNAME -v $HOME/.Xauthority:/home/hakon/.Xauthority gui-test-ubuntu-2004
  • For me this was not the answer, I simply ran xhost + local:docker first and it worked. Not sure how much of a security risk this is?
    – Dan Bolser
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 12:53
  • Thank you! Installing via snap was indeed the problem. I simply removed the snap and installed via apt.
    – Alqio
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 9:11

Type xhost + local:docker before running docker.

  • 2
    xhost + is (almost) always a bad idea™
    – guntbert
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 21:27
  • 1
    On a home LAN, how is it ever a bad idea? Commented Nov 9, 2021 at 22:19
  • qt.qpa.screen: QXcbConnection: Could not connect to display Could not connect to any X display.
    – Owl
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 22:38

I was testing this but it was raising the error. standard_init_linux.go:228: exec user process caused: exec format error

My docker was installed following the instructions here: https://docs.docker.com/engine/install/ubuntu/

I added the the #!/bin/bash on the first line of your entrypoint.sh and it's working for me.

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