So I have this question, https://serverfault.com/revisions/430754/1, and it got closed.

Here is an forum question related to what I'm asking (this first post tells it all) http://www.webpagetest.org/forums/showthread.php?tid=835 .

Basically if you aren't RDP'd into an EC2 instance, the display doesn't render or something. I don't know the exact terminology, but this is an actual question. It's not vague, everything that's pertinent is there, and the application is pointless. Maybe I wanted to capture screen shots at an interval to watch the Resource Moniter, or maybe I wanted to run Sikuli on a bunch of ec2 instances to load test a web server. Either way the problem is the same.

This question was closed, and there was no reason for it.


Doesn't work because the instance only renders the display during an RDP connection.

There are other links out there with people having the same problem, I was just hoping that people could help me come up with a solution to this one.

  • 2
    I realize you may be skeptical of our abilities, but many of us actually do know what we're doing and are not harassing your question for curiosity or the fun of it.
    – Chris S
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:25
  • Honestly, it's a fairly straight forward question. If you're running a headless windows instance, the only way to view it is through rdp. The display stops rendering or whatever if you disconnect, and I need to to somehow stay on, so the software on the machine can interact with it. If you don't understand headless machines or whatever, then you probably are in no position to answer the question, you're just closing it because you don't 'see the point', or you don't know about the topic. That's not grounds to close a question. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:29
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    Thou shalt not goad anyone into providing an answer by reason of Personal Incredulity. Thank you for playing, please try again.
    – Chris S
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:38
  • Are you trying to capture screen output by means of some software like Cmatasia (just for example) on the remote EC2 instance, but there is no recorded screen when you disconnect from the RDP session? Only when you're actively connected? Is that what this is about?
    – Wesley
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:40
  • @WesleyDavid Yes. That's basically the core of it. RDP sessions have their "screen" destroyed when there is nobody connected (because there is no screen connected....)
    – Chris S
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:44
  • @ChrisS Exactly what I'm dealing with here. yourlogicalfallacyis.com/personal-incredulity Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:48
  • I was hoping there was a driver or something that could bypass this, or emulate a display, or something. Some kind of answer, but instead I got a bunch of 'I don't understand the question, so he's being vague' Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:49
  • @kelton52: The people that closed your question are some of the best we have. If they don't get it then there is something wrong with the question not them.
    – user9517
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:52
  • @Iain Maybe you haven't been keeping up, but we already established that the question is a real question. The only real issue it seems, is my lack of including motive and reason into the question. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:56
  • 1
    They're all looking for a 'why' so they can say 'No that's dumb, do it this way'...Which is what I'm not looking for, as it doesn't answer my question. That's simple logic. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:57
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    @kelton52: The only thing that has been established is that you don't agree that your question is NARQ and you're not prepared to listen to people who are tying to help you.
    – user9517
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 19:03
  • 2
    @kelton52 Actually, I was looking for a "why" (or a "what") so I could advise you as to what possibilities there are, and which ones might be suitable for you, but after reading all the garbage you've been spewing here (which must have taken many times longer that just providing the necessary specifics in the first place), I'd also like to know why I (or anyone else) should bother helping. I mean, clearly, I'm in "over my head" (the fact that I administer hundreds of ESX which need screencapped from time to time notwithstanding), so me and my head should find someone else to help, right? Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 0:44
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    I would have thought that the entire core nugget of this debacle would have been addressed in my not-quite-comprehensive guide to asking good questions, but it wasn't. So constructive result: Implementation constraints are now explicitly called out as things we kinda need to know! HOORAY CONSTRUCTIVE RESULTS! <--?
    – voretaq7
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 2:34

4 Answers 4


As an aside, can I make a personal recommendation that you take some time to improve your interpersonal and social skills.

Walking into a room full of people that you have never met and insinuating that they're lacking in knowledge is not a great tactic. Not only does it do nothing to make us want to help you (And remember, any help you get is out of the kindness of someones heart), but it also makes you appear rude, obnoxious and clueless yourself.

For future reference, there are some extremely talented people on ServerFault and, if you'd followed their instructions to start with your question may have been answered already. We know what we're talking about and we know what questions we need to ask to help you out. It's very hard to solve quasi-hypothetical questions without real world information and it also goes against what ServerFault is about.

Additionally, you continually say things like

then I'll find an alternative(well I know all my alternatives if I can't find the answer, or it isn't possible


I specifically DON'T put my reasoning in here most of the time because I already KNOW all of the solutions, and am only interested in the one I'm trying to solve. I don't want to spend a bunch of time explaining myself.

Two things jump out:

  1. If you can't be bothered to spend the time explaining, why the heck should we spend any time looking for a solution?

  2. Trust me when I say that you definitely do not know all of your alternatives. One of the beauties of a community like ServerFault is you have access to thousands and thousands of years of combined experience and knowledge. It's worth letting people in to help you, because you never know what novel solution will be suggested.

Finally, thanks for finally adding some context to your question and I hope someone can come up with a solution for you.

  • 1
    Among scholars, you are a gentleman. Among gentlemen, a scholar.
    – Wesley
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 22:13
  • I do know all my viable alternatives to solving this problem without needing a visual display actually. Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 0:10
  • And also, I'm only at this point because people closed my question because they didn't understand the topic I was talking about. I wouldn't be insulting if people wouldn't downvote things that were out of there scope. Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 0:11
  • This is the similar to asking "How do you replace the engine of a vehicle", and having a bunch of people who change tires for a living mark the question as 'not a question' because they don't understand what an engine is. Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 0:14
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    @kelton52 No, to use your analogy it is like walking into a shop and asking the mechanics How do you replace the engine of a vehicle?. You should not be surprised when the mechanics ask you Are you asking about VW Bug, a Porsche 911, an Alfa Romeo Spider, a Ford Model T? -- that kind of context is critical to doing the job correctly. If you insist on standing at the counter and shouting "AN ENGINE! IN A VEHICLE" rather than offering the context they need to do the work properly a smart mechanic will roll their eyes and walk away because you are not asking a real question.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 1:55
  • 1
    @kelton52 That's a silly analogy, and yes, I can work on cars too. See voretaq7's response for a start. We'd also need to know what engine you intend to put in, what equipment you have available and if you're competent enough to handle it. But, more to the point, they'd probably ask "why?", too. Because why replace an engine when it just needs a new alternator?Though, if you'd like proof, why not walk into your local shop and repeat your "How do you replace the engine of a vehicle" question. You can tell them they're clueless. Record the response for future reference.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 10:50
  • Oh lol, you guys. Now I'm laughing. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 16:33

I've read your question that was closed, the link provided and the question above. Your question that was closed still makes no sense to me. It was closed correctly.

  • It only doesn't make sense if you've never had the problem before, and that's the problem. If you haven't run into this issue, then you can't possibly answer it, so how can you possibly deem it worthy of closing, just because it doesn't make sense to you? Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:02
  • Maybe follow the steps, and replicate it if you think I'm just pulling stuff out of my butt. Make a windows EC2 instance, try and capture a screen shot when you aren't RDP'd in there. You get a black screen, because the display won't render. I'm assuming due to the default driver, or something. That's what I'm trying to figure out Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:04
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    @kelton52: Ok, if you want your question answered you have to provide sufficient information for people to understand it. As it is your question is the very epitome of NARQ. Your terminology is jumbled. There are no details of what you want to achieve and there is no context. If you had provided the information from your comments above then there may have been a better outcome for you. People here really do like to help but you have to help them to help you.
    – user9517
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:20
  • 4
    Further, the reason you want to do that is pertinent. For example, resource monitoring is easily done to log files, then replayed by the GUI for your convenience. Taking screen shots would be barbaric at best. So if that's what you're trying to get at, your question is complete off-base as the Answer is "use logging to a file". The presumption that there is no better way to accomplish the task is almost certainly flawed, especially given you lack of knowledge evidenced by your inability to use terminology correctly.
    – Chris S
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:23
  • @ChrisS It doesn't matter, as I never said I was looking for alternative solutions. There is a direct problem, and it isn't related to the specific task I'm trying to complete. In fact, I specifically didn't want answers that were the equivalent of "Why not do this instead". I know what I WANT to do. If it isn't possible, then I'll find an alternative(well I know all my alternatives if I can't find the answer, or it isn't possible) Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:24
  • Had you considered that what you want to do is doing it wrong? And that you're spending more time fighting with what you want, and the people who are trying to help you, than if you had just described the actual problem in the first place?
    – Chris S
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:27
  • 1
    @kelton52 What are you even talking about? Make a windows EC2 instance, try and capture a screen shot when you aren't RDP'd in there. You get a black screen, because the display won't render Of course you can't get a screenshot of a computer that you're not connected to. If you aren't RDP'd in, then you're not connected so little ones and zeros can't go back and forth. This is very literally like complaining that your server doesn't turn on when it's not plugged into a power outlet. Explain your situation more so we can figure out rightly what it is you even mean in the first place.
    – Wesley
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:29
  • @WesleyDavid There is a hacky workaround I'm trying to avoid because it's cumbersome, but a workaround non the less, so don't be condescending. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:30
  • @ChrisS Do you even know WHAT I'm doing, or why? The usefulness of what I'm doing is irrelevant to my original question. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:30
  • 1
    @kelton52 No, I do not know what or why; which is precisely why that information is relevant to a solution. Further, the fact that you are so adamant about not telling us makes me think that what your doing is illegal, embarressingly foolish, or something similar. Further I believe there is a better way to accomplish what you're doing, one that is supportable, maintainable, and professional. Professionals do not chase their tail for days to implement and ugly hack.
    – Chris S
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:36
  • @ChrisS I specifically DON'T put my reasoning in here most of the time because I already KNOW all of the solutions, and am only interested in the one I'm trying to solve. I don't want to spend a bunch of time explaining myself. And again, with what you said, my motives are irrelevant to the real question here, so why are we STILL focusing on that? How does what I'm doing affect whether or not I can, with software, view the screen when I'm not connected? Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:38
  • But here we go. Just because this is getting fairly annoying. My boss wants me to use Sikuli to load test some server code we have running by booting up a bunch of EC2's, and running through our custom dialogs while I take metrics on Sql Server 2008. I personally think it would be better to take the UI out of the equation, and just programatically make these calls, but for some reason, he just won't accept that as an answer. So, I figured someone on here might know HOW to keep the display running after disconnecting, or without even connecting at all. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:43
  • 3
    @kelton52 If you had said that from the beginning, this all would have made sense. Your vague use and misapplication of terminology (which is a large part of the confusion) could have easily been excused and overlooked if we had just known you were trying to record the screen while disconnected.
    – Wesley
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:45
  • 2
    @kelton52: If you had told us all of this in your original question you almost certainly would have had a different outcome. As it is you have fallen foul of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/66377/what-is-the-xy-problem
    – user9517
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 18:50
  • 2
    @kelton52 If you are constrained by implementation requirements you need to tell us that! - we only know what you tell us. Simply saying "a dude wrote a script to handle what we're doing for Sikuli a year ago and I'm stuck supporting that" in your question (or after you were asked for context the first time) would probably have avoided having your question closed and the need for this entire Meta discussion. There is no reason a community of volunteers trying to help should have to pry key contextual information out of you like an impacted wisdom tooth.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 2:10

As asked, before @WesleyDavis came along to update it, your question was nonsensical. Frankly, it doesn't make much sense now either, and it's pretty clear to me that you are not nearly as talented or capable as you're making yourself out to be.

If you were, you wouldn't be mangling your terminology, flagging requests for clarification, or making absurd statements like "the purpose doesn't matter." The purpose very much does matter, and in the context of doing a "screen capture" on a virtual server, is the difference between it being a trivial task and a completely impossible task.

Also, for your future edification, when you come to someone asking for free help, it's rather counter-productive to accuse them of not knowing what they're doing and whining when they ask for clarification, ESPECIALLY when the communication problem is that you're using the wrong terminology and asking far too vague a question. To wit:

  1. Are you trying to capture console output, terminal output, or [user] session output?
  2. Is it something rendered in full screen mode, or something rendered along with the desktop?
  3. Continuous or at intervals?
  4. What screen capture program and method are you using? (Or need to used/cannot be used?)

They all make a difference as to what the "answer" is, which is why a bunch of people asked for clarification.

Also, as stated by @Dan, you really need to work on your interpersonal-skills and learn how to ask for help. Seeing this thread and your argumentative, insulting comments at people, like myself, who downvoted your question makes me think there's no point in wasting my expertise and time on you. If you're willing to lose the attitude and update the question with the information provided here, you might just get an answer you'll find useful and/or shed some downvotes.

  • Is it something rendered in full screen mode, or something rendered along with the desktop? Continuous or at intervals? What screen capture program and method are you using? (Or need to used/cannot be used?) Those three are irrelivent. Also, the first one is pretty much a given. Thanks for trying! Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 15:18
  • 1
    @kelton52 See, this kind of shit is exactly why your question got closed and you don't have an answer you like. I actually admin hundreds of ESX hosts at the moment, and have a lot of experience with forcing a screencap from a headless machine/VM, believe it or not. But since you're hellbent on insisting you know better than me, I'm not about to help you out for free, especially when it seems to require taking attitude and shit from you. So, thank you for trying, but please go away and leave me alone from here on out. I have no interest in helping you with your issues. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 15:42
  • Heh, somehow I'm fine with that. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 20:50

The problem stems from your lack of knowledge, which resulted in a question that most closely resembles gibberish. Had you use appropriate terminology the question would no only have remained open, it would have received decent answers.

I'll give you a clue, based on my best guess as to what you are attempting to ask: What you should be asking about is persistent sessions, not video rendering.

I would also advise you to stop being so argumentative and insulting. That's not the way to get people to help you. Instead of getting the help you apparently wanted all you've managed to achieve is to piss off those who have the answers.

  • all you've managed to achieve is to piss off those who have the answers No, that can't be right. Obviously, he's just pissed off all the people who are in over their heads, and no solution to his problem exists. :/ Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 16:39

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