Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top


People are concerned that building a pipeline to the West Coast of Canada will increase the number of oil tankers, thus increasing the probability of a major oil spill, thereby creating an environmental catastrophe.

The AIS Live Ships Map website captures real-time Marine Traffic updates using a Google Maps interface. While it is possible to obtain data from an AIS data feed, often the feeds are either pay-for-use, or otherwise encumbered with license restrictions.


The AIS Live Ships website presents a map in the browser:

The map above has had its location interactively changed to focus on the area in question: the northern straight of Vancouver Island.


How would you create a service that captures the map every 30 minutes and that could run, with neither user-intervention nor a significant memory footprint, for a few years?

Idea #1

  1. Create a virtual machine.
  2. Install and run a light-weight browser.
  3. Use Shutter to take captures at regular intervals.

Idea #2

Use Python's Ghost Webkit to automate the captures.

Thank you!

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You might also considering using Xvfb (X virtual framebuffer). This has the advantage of being lighter-weight than running a virtual machine, as well as only depending on pretty vanilla software packages.

Searching the web for "xvfb screenshot" should turn up various links on how you might do this.

share|improve this answer
This looks like a great option. – Dave Jarvis Jun 18 '12 at 16:18

Maybe look how browsershots did it.

It's a website that lets you create screenshots of websites and they're open-source. I would imagine some useful information can be pulled from their source.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.