If you're using a virtual development environment like Vagrant or Docker, or perhaps using a remote server for CI, you may want to run your Nightwatch E2E tests in an environment without a dedicated GUI.

In this case, you're going to need to use Chrome in "headless" mode. However, if you're using the Nightwatch plugin for Vue CLI 3, the default settings will be for regular Chrome, not headless.

In this brief tutorial, I'll show you how to set up an Ubuntu server for headless Chrome, and how to configure the Vue CLI 3 Nightwatch plugin for headless mode.

Skip to a working version using Vagrant.

Environment set up

Your Ubuntu server will need to have Node, NPM, Vue CLI 3, and Chrome installed. You can use the following snippet in a Vagrantfile or manually run it from the terminal.


apt-get update -y && \

## Install Node and NPM

cd /opt && \
wget https://nodejs.org/dist/v10.15.3/node-v10.15.3-linux-x64.tar.xz && \
tar xf node-v10.15.3-linux-x64.tar.xz && \
ln -s -f /opt/node-v10.15.3-linux-x64/bin/node /usr/local/bin/node && \
ln -s -f /opt/node-v10.15.3-linux-x64/bin/node-waf /usr/local/bin/node-waf && \
ln -s -f /opt/node-v10.15.3-linux-x64/bin/npm /usr/local/bin/npm && \

## Install Vue CLI 3

npm install -g @vue/cli@3.5.0 && \
echo "export PATH=\"$PATH:/opt/node-v10.15.3-linux-x64/bin\"" >> /home/vagrant/.bashrc && \
source /home/vagrant/.bashrc && \

## Install Chrome

apt install -y openjdk-11-jdk && \
apt-get install -y libdbusmenu-gtk3-4 libappindicator3-1 libgtk-3-0 libxss1 xdg-utils fonts-liberation && \
wget https://dl.google.com/linux/direct/google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb -P /tmp/ && \
dpkg -i /tmp/google-chrome*.deb

Vue CLI 3 Nightwatch plugin config

The default settings of Vue CLI 3 are for regular Chrome, not headless, so we'll need to change that.

To make Chrome run in headless mode you can simply pass some flags when you boot it from the CLI. If you're using Nightwatch you can add these flags as args to the Chrome options in the config.

By default, the Vue CLI 3 Nigthwatch plugin doesn't have a config file, so you'll need to create one in the root of your Vue project:

$ touch nightwatch.json


  "test_settings": {
    "chrome": {
      "desiredCapabilities": {
        "chromeOptions": {
          "args": [

Note: any settings we add here will be merged with the default config.

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Running tests

If you followed the above tests, your set up is now complete. From the server you've installed this on, run:

$ npm run test:e2e

Fingers crossed you'll see some green ticks!

Anthony Gore

About Anthony Gore

I'm Anthony Gore and I'm here to teach you Vue.js! Through my books, online courses, and social media, I aim to turn you into a Vue.js expert.

I'm a Vue Community Partner, curator of the weekly Vue.js Developers Newsletter, and the creator of Vue.js Developers.

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