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PDFKit and wkhtmltopdf without X Server, using qt

Written Aaron Van Bokhoven on Jul 15, 2010

If your PDFKit and wkhtmltopdf is working on your development server, probably in OSX, but not working on your production server, which is probably running linux, it’s because you’re missing X Server.

There are a few ways around this, some emulate X Server, but that seems hacky. I read through the wkhtmltopdf docs and read that a patched qt framework will allow you to use wkhtmltopdf without using X Server.

Here’s what I did on my Ubuntu Box to get this to work (note: the compile time for qt was almost 2 hours, and you’ll also need to have git installed):

sudo apt-get build-dep libqt4-gui libqt4-network libqt4-webkit
sudo apt-get install openssl build-essential xorg git-core git-doc libssl-dev

mkdir ~/sources
cd ~/sources
git clone git://gitorious.org/+wkhtml2pdf/qt/wkhtmltopdf-qt.git wkhtmltopdf-qt
cd wkhtmltopdf-qt
./configure -nomake tools,examples,demos,docs,translations -opensource -prefix ../wkqt
make -j3
make install
cd ..

Next install wkhtmltopdf:

git clone git://github.com/antialize/wkhtmltopdf.git wkhtmltopdf
cd wkhtmltopdf
../wkqt/bin/qmake
make -j3
make install

Run ‘wkhtmltopdf’ in shell and you should see it load correctly instead of seeing the x server error. Running ‘wkhtmltopdf-proxy’ should do the same, which is what PDFKit uses.