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How do we run desktop automation with freeware tools (like AutoIT, Sikuli) in a virtual machine or a headless machine.

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AutoIT, Sikuli or Kantu Automation all work fine in a virtual machine (e. g. Virtual Box). If you have a problem there, please provide details.

On the other hand, these tools need a desktop - so they can not run headless. This is by design. They can not be compared with tools like PhantomJS that just emulate a web browser.

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    They need a desktop on the host machine but guests can usually run seemingly headless. At VirtualBox see VBoxHeadless command. – Adam Horvath Feb 19 '17 at 20:46

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