Do I need Bitcoin-qt to run Armory? I keep hearing conflicting information.
My goal is to mine bitcoins in a pool, so ideally, I want a very secure wallet, and I would prefer not to download the entire blockchain if I don't have to.
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Armory by default doesnt run Bitcoin-qt, it runs Bitcoind. Since armory installs the entire Bitcoin reference client by default, Bitcoin-qt will be present regardless (you can try to delete it, though):
Bitcoin-Qt is the “Graphical User Interface” around the core Bitcoin protocol that is run by the majority of nodes on the network. ”bitcoind” is the same software but without the user interface — it is simply a process that runs in the background and only allows access to it through its API. For the purposes of running Armory, either one is sufficient, but one of them must be running and synchronized. The latest version of Armory will run bitcoind for you in the background.
Armory/Bitcoind does need to download the entire blockchain:
Regardless of which one you use, it will download the entire blockchain
Source for both snips: https://bitcoinarmory.com/about/armory-and-bitcoin-qt/