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I have a HTPC running an Ubuntu minimal OS installation and XBMC. No desktop environment is installed - the computer boots straight to XBMC.

I want to install a couple of old emulators and run it from the command line using XBMC. On the requirements page of several emulators, it says they need GTK. Does this mean they won't work without installing a desktop environment?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You don't need any desktop environment to run GTK programs. You just need the GTK libraries. Which packages is determined by the specifics of the programs you're installing. But you can install them through Ubuntu's package manager--both the binaries and the -dev packages that provide header files for compilation (if you're building these programs from source and linking them against GTK).

If you provide more information about what you're installing and how you plan to install it, a more detail answer could be given. But the basic answer is: no, you don't need a desktop environment to run GTK programs.

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Indeed. Running X programs without a window manager just makes them full screen only, btw. And probably exactly what you'd want for XBMC. :) –  gertvdijk Jan 12 '13 at 15:10
    
@gertvdijk They would be borderless, but not necessarily full screen. If there's no window manager installed (which isn't necessarily the case--you don't need a desktop environment for a window manager) and it doesn't work well, a simple window manager with minimal dependencies (such as twm) could be installed. –  Eliah Kagan Jan 12 '13 at 15:20
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