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I made installed Debian onto my new Intel NUC with just the bare essentials. I didn't install any desktop environment, or even a window manager. This NUC is meant to ...
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    Lean Install of Debian with OpenGL Support


    I made installed Debian onto my new Intel NUC with just the bare essentials. I didn't install any desktop environment, or even a window manager. This NUC is meant to be the computer for my arcade cabinet I'm building where I'm programming all the games from scratch.

    What I want is my NUC to immediately start my game's shell UI on startup, which is a fullscreen program in OpenGL. From what I've read, it sounds like I actually DO need a window manager like the x server installed and running to run anything.

    Should I install xorg, and all of its dependencies, then start it, or am I better off reinstalling Debian with its default Gnome DE, then uninstall Gnome?

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    Linux Engineer docbop's Avatar
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    I'd do a minimal install like a server install, then add X and one of OLD window managers like windowmaker they are very lightweight.

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    Linux User IsaacKuo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent_M View Post
    I made installed Debian onto my new Intel NUC with just the bare essentials. I didn't install any desktop environment, or even a window manager. This NUC is meant to be the computer for my arcade cabinet I'm building where I'm programming all the games from scratch.

    What I want is my NUC to immediately start my game's shell UI on startup, which is a fullscreen program in OpenGL. From what I've read, it sounds like I actually DO need a window manager like the x server installed and running to run anything.

    Should I install xorg, and all of its dependencies, then start it, or am I better off reinstalling Debian with its default Gnome DE, then uninstall Gnome?
    There are ways to do what you want without a window manager, or even X, but they're more of a pain to set up and maintain. Unless you're really hurting for disk space and RAM (like, less than 2GB of disk space, or less than 64MB of RAM), then I'd recommend a full X Display Manager and Window Manager.

    If you have over 4GB of disk space, then installing the default GNOME desktop setup is fine. This will include the GNOME display manager, gdm3, which can be set up to auto-login a user to X via a GUI configuration interface.

    If you'd rather not have all that stuff installed, lightDM is a good X display manager that is easily configured to auto-login a user.

    If you have at least 2GB of disk space and 128MB of RAM, then I'd recommend using the xfce4 desktop environment. It may be a little bit of overkill for your needs, but it's really easy to set up and maintain and get out of your way. The default GNOME3 desktop environment is a lot heavier and more annoying to deal with, when you really just want to open up a full screen application and forget about anything else.

    In XFCE4, you just delete all panels and right click on the desktop to get to Applications->Settings->Session and Startup. Then create an entry for the program you want to autostart.

    If you want something leaner than LightDM+XFCE4, then I'd recommend LightDM+OpenBox. OpenBox is a very lightweight window manager that's popular with lightweight linux distributions. It has no session manager, so you'll have to configure application autostart manually the old fashioned way (which I'm sure you're comfortable with).

    To get a minimally functional set up, start with a minimal Debian install (unselect everything during the tasksel portion of the install), and then add the following:

    apt-get install alsa-base xserver-xorg-video-ati lightdm openbox

    If you want support for other video cards (not ati), choose the appropriate one. Or, just install all of them with this instead:

    apt-get install alsa-base xorg lightdm openbox

    Additionally, if you want to have a wireless connection instead of ethernet, you may find it useful to install this:

    apt-get install wicd
    Isaac Kuo, ICQ 29055726 or Yahoo mechdan

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    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
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    I'm not completely sure if it is for openbox in general, but in Crunchbang you can auto start applications simply by adding the appropriate command to ~/.config/openbox/autostart.sh
    "I used to be with it, then they changed what it was.
    Now what was it isn't it, and what is it is weird and scary to me.
    It'll happen to you too."

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    I think for my purposes, Xfce would be a great way to start trying things out. I have 8GB of RAM and 60GB for my HDD, so I'm not hurting for space in those areas. I am hurting in performance power as my NUC is using an Intel i3 CPU with HD 4000 integrated graphics (might be a 4400).

    The openbox approach looks even better, but you mentioned setting up my startup program "the old fashioned way", which I haven't done yet. Does it have to do with adding a file to my /etc/init.d folder? A quick Google pointed me to a Stack Overflow thread explaining how to do that.

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    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
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    It is for openbox in general. This is nice and simple.
    zenwalker likes this.
    "I used to be with it, then they changed what it was.
    Now what was it isn't it, and what is it is weird and scary to me.
    It'll happen to you too."

    Grandpa Simpson



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    Linux User IsaacKuo's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was a bit confused. Openbox does indeed have built in auto-start functionality.
    Isaac Kuo, ICQ 29055726 or Yahoo mechdan

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    First off, I'd like to say thank you guys for the excellent help so far! Isaac's post above gave me a lot to think about, and it answered some other questions I had too. How are xorg, LightDM and OpenBox related, exactly? I'm under the impressions that xorg was the window system (low-level framework), and LightDM would be the desktop environment that runs on top of it, and OpenBox is the window manager, right? If that's the case, does LightDM depend on OpenBox, or is it the other way around? Is OpenBox the layer of software that controls the UI's 'style' such as how windows look, if there are windows, buttons, input, etc? If that's the case, then what are the functions of LightDM? I thought LightDM handled that.

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    UNIX originally was a CLI environment. XWindows was written as a server application that ran in user space. Xorg is an open source implementation of the Xwindows server. XDM was and is a client for the X Server. As desktop environments evolved more sophisticated clients were written to replace XDM and LightDM is one of them. The desktop managers do concern themselves with look and feel - though really I'd say it's the underlying libraries that do that. OpenBox is a window manager and window managers usually rely on a client - desktop manager - to communicate with XWindows. Window managers actually manage the application windows - moving them, minimizing them etc.

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    So, would a Display Manager, such as LightDM, be a subset of a Desktop Environment, such as KDE? Also, I tried running my GLUT shell, and I get this error:
    XGetVisualInfo return 0 visuals.

    If I run my OpenGL program without hardware acceleration, then it works. The problem is, I need that hardware acceleration. The reason I'm trying to stay away from a fully-featured Desktop Environment is because I won't need it, and I'd like to get all the hardware acceleration I can get from my i3's integrated graphics pipeline.

    EDIT: I figured out what was causing the error I was getting above. I'm running everything on a virtual machine through VirtualBox. Turns out that error is generated when running OpenGL with 3D acceleration turned on in the VM's settings.
    Last edited by Vincent_M; 02-18-2014 at 01:30 AM.

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