What am i missing?
Guys - Im a relative Linux newbie and im trying different distros to get a broad feel for the way things are done in Linux. So far i have used Ubuntu, Mint and Red Hat, all of these work fine but don't give me the raw terminal based experience that im after from boot. I have slackware running now in another vm and minimalist if what im after so this is great, question is though should i be able to or even expect that rich gui based apps like firefox will run in this tty?
Every time i try to launch a browser or xcalc something like that i get a display error (display not set) or if i set the variable it just says that that variable is not available. Startx launches the desktop environment and here everything works, but this is not what i want.
If im chasing my tail, please let me know, i can't find any posts to help me understand the problem if there is one, of if it is just that gui based programs won't run unless a window manager is started like kde etc..
Ill probably look back at this post in a couple of years and laugh at it!
I believe there are command line versions of the programs you need; not Firefox exactly but a web browser. Yes, if you want to run GUI applications, some support is required/expected from the underlying operating system or the OS' environment.
What you imagine, at least as I understand your post - running the Firefox you're used to from the command line without a windowed environment of some kind started - is impossible. Perhaps there's a minimalist X environment that can be loaded to provide the minimum support needed, but I haven't heard of that.
Generally speaking, to run a GUI application, you need at minimum a working X windows system. A window manager is not required (but of course helpful).
That said, there are some graphical applications you can run in the framebuffer. For example, you can actually watch movies with mplayer using the framebuffer, and the console web browser links2 is able to display graphics in the framebuffer. But it's a pretty limited browser. You may be able to compile Firefox with directfb support, but I haven't seen any success stories out there and the example on the directfb website is very out of date.
Outside of finding a decent web browser, there are many good terminal applications that can fulfill most functions.
one thing you may want to do is look into twint, and use applications like cmus, mplayer-nox, transmission-cli, and similar. these will give you full functionality of a desktop system, without a desktop environment.