Introduction to GTK 4

The GTK 4 package contains libraries used for creating graphical user interfaces for applications.



Development versions of BLFS may not build or run some packages properly if dependencies have been updated since the most recent stable versions of the book.

Package Information

GTK 4 Dependencies


FriBidi-1.0.12, gdk-pixbuf-2.42.10, graphene-1.10.8, ISO Codes-4.12.0, libepoxy-1.5.10, libxkbcommon-1.5.0, Pango-1.50.12, PyGObject-3.42.2, and wayland-protocols-1.31


Recommended (Required if building GNOME)


colord-1.4.6, Cups-2.4.2, docutils-0.19, FFmpeg-5.1.2 (built with libvpx-1.13.0), Gi-DocGen-2023.1, Highlight-4.4 (runtime, only used by gtk4-demo for syntax highlighting of demo source code), libcloudproviders-0.3.1, sassc-3.6.2, Tracker-3.4.2, and vulkan

User Notes:

Installation of GTK 4

Install GTK 4 by running the following commands:

mkdir build &&
cd    build &&

meson setup --prefix=/usr           \
            --buildtype=release     \
            -Dbroadway-backend=true \
            .. &&

To run the tests, issue: meson test --setup x11. If you are in a Wayland session, replace x11 with wayland. A few tests may fail.

Now, as the root user:

ninja install

Command Explanations

--buildtype=release: Specify a buildtype suitable for stable releases of the package, as the default may produce unoptimized binaries.

-Dbroadway-backend=true: This switch enables the HTML5 GDK backend.

-Dcloudproviders=enabled: Use this switch if you have libcloudproviders-0.3.1 installed and wish to enable support for cloud providers in a file chooser window.

-Dsysprof=enabled: Use this switch if you have sysprof-3.46.0 installed and wish to enable tracing support for GTK4-based applications.

-Dtracker=enabled: Use this switch if you have Tracker-3.4.2 installed and wish to use search functionality when running a file chooser.

-Dcolord=enabled: Use this switch if you have colord-1.4.6 installed and wish to use colord with the CUPS printing backend.

-Dgtk_doc=true: Use this switch if you have Gi-DocGen-2023.1 installed and wish to generate the API reference documentation. Use the sed "s@'doc'@& / 'gtk-4.8.3'@" -i docs/reference/ before the cd build to make the documentation install path correct if you will use this switch.

-Dman-pages=true: Use this switch if you have docutils-0.19 installed and wish to generate the man pages.

Configuring GTK 4

Config Files

~/.config/gtk-4.0/settings.ini and /usr/share/gtk-4.0/settings.ini

Configuration Information

GTK 4 themes change the way a GTK 4 application looks. An icon theme can be used to change the icons that appear on the application's toolbar. If you have installed a GTK 4 theme (e.g. the Adwaita theme built in GTK 4), an icon theme (such as oxygen-icons5-5.101.0) and/or a font (Dejavu fonts), you can set your preferences in ~/.config/gtk-4.0/settings.ini, or the default system-wide configuration file (as the root user), in /usr/share/gtk-4.0/settings.ini. For the local user, an example is:

mkdir -pv ~/.config/gtk-4.0
cat > ~/.config/gtk-4.0/settings.ini << "EOF"
gtk-theme-name = Adwaita
gtk-icon-theme-name = oxygen
gtk-font-name = DejaVu Sans 12
gtk-cursor-theme-size = 18
gtk-xft-antialias = 1
gtk-xft-hinting = 1
gtk-xft-hintstyle = hintslight
gtk-xft-rgba = rgb
gtk-cursor-theme-name = Adwaita

There are many settings keys, some with default values. You can find them at Settings: GTK 4 Reference Manual.


Installed Programs: gtk4-broadwayd, gtk4-builder-tool, gtk4-demo, gtk4-demo-application, gtk4-encode-symbolic-svg, gtk4-icon-browser, gtk4-launch, gtk4-node-editor, gtk4-print-editor, gtk4-query-settings, gtk4-update-icon-cache, and gtk4-widget-factory
Installed Libraries:
Installed Directories: /usr/include/gtk-4.0, /usr/lib/gtk-4.0, and /usr/share/gtk-4.0

Short Descriptions


provides support for displaying GTK 4 applications in a web browser using HTML5 and web sockets


performs various operations on GtkBuilder .ui files


is a simple program that demonstrates some of the tasks that can be done with GTK 4


is a simple GTK 4 application which is useful for testing


converts symbolic SVG icons into special PNG files. GTK 4 can load and recolor these PNGs, just like original SVGs, but loading them is much faster


is a utility to explore the icons in the current icon theme. It shows icons in various sizes, their symbolic variants when available, as well as a description of the icon and its context


launches an application using the given name. The name should match the application .desktop file name (as seen in /usr/share/applications), with or without the '.desktop' extension


is a utility to show and edit render node files. Such render node files can be obtained e.g. from the GTK inspector


is a simple program to demonstrate printing using GTK 4 applications


provides a complete listing of all settings related to GTK 4


is an icon theme caching utility that creates mmap()able cache files for icon themes


is a program to view GTK 4 themes and widgets

contains functions that provide an API to implement graphical user interfaces