Guest post: Running Glamorous Toolkit on virtual Linux systems

Glamorous Toolkit (GT) uses a cutting-edge graphics stack whose foundational layer is OpenGL. This makes it a bit of a challenge to use on computers that do not have any graphics hardware with up-to-date OpenGL support. The worst case is virtual machines, which have no graphicss hardware at all. If you want to run GT on a remote computer via a network connection, or in a virtual machine on your desktop computer, you may experience problems ranging from rendering flaws to startup failure. This post describes a workaround that works well enough for the current version of GT.

Remote and virtual machines tend to run Linux. The precompiled GT distribution for Linux is made for Ubuntu 20.04 or Fedora 32 & 33. These up-to-date distributions have cutting-edge graphics stacks as well. The workaround is to move back by one step and use Ubuntu 18.04. The only problem is that GT won't work under Ubuntu 18.04 out of the box, because it expects a newer version of a library.

GT user markfirmware has figured out a way to partially update Ubuntu 18.04 to make it compatible with the precompiled GT distributions, and written a script that applies this update when setting up a virtual machine in the cloud. He has been using this successfully on DigitalOcean cloud servers and also with Gitpod.

For those who are setting up a virtual desktop environment, it is easier to run the two commands manually:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-toolchain-r/test
sudo apt-get install -y g++-10

I have been using this setup with VirtualBox under macOS for a few days now, so far without any problems. You may want to follow this GitHub issue for updates.