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The Win32 backend in GTK+ is not as stable or correct as the X11 one.

For prebuilt runtime and developer packages see

Building GTK+ on Win32

First you obviously need developer packages for the compile-time
dependencies: GDK-Pixbuf, Pango, atk, glib, gettext-runtime, libiconv
at least.  See

For people compiling GTK+ on Visual C++ 2005 or later, it is recommended
that you build GDK-Pixbuf, Pango, atk, glib with the same compiler to avoid
crashes and errors caused by the usage of different CRTS.  VS 2008
project files and/or VS Makefiles are either already available in these
packages or will be available in the next stable release.  Unfortunately
compiling with Microsoft's compilers (version 2003 or earlier) is not
supported as compiling GLib requires features from the newer compilers
and/or the newer Platform SDKs at this time of writing.

After installing the dependencies, there are two ways to build GTK+
for win32.

1) GNU tools, ./configure && make install

This requires you have mingw and MSYS.

Use the configure script, and the resulting Makefiles (which use
libtool and gcc to do the compilation). I use this myself, but it can
be hard to setup correctly.

The full script I run to build GTK+ 2.16 unpacked from a source
distribution is as below. This is from bulding GTK+ 2.16.5. I don't
use any script like this to build the development branch, as I don't
distribute any binaries from development branches.

# This is a shell script that calls functions and scripts from
#'s personal work envĂ­ronment. It is not expected to be
# usable unmodified by others, and is included only for reference.




HEX=`echo $THIS | md5sum | cut -d' ' -f1`



set -x

DEPS=`latest --arch=${ARCH} glib atk cairo pango libpng zlib libtiff jpeg`
PROXY_LIBINTL=`latest --arch=${ARCH} proxy-libintl`

for D in $DEPS; do
    [ -d /devel/dist/${ARCH}/$D/lib/pkgconfig ] && PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/devel/dist/${ARCH}/$D/lib/pkgconfig:$PKG_CONFIG_PATH

LIBPNG=`latest --arch=${ARCH} libpng`
ZLIB=`latest --arch=${ARCH} zlib`
LIBTIFF=`latest --arch=${ARCH} libtiff`
JPEG=`latest --arch=${ARCH} jpeg`

patch -p0 <<'EOF'

lt_cv_deplibs_check_method='pass_all' \
CC='gcc -mtune=pentium3 -mthreads' \
CPPFLAGS="-I/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${LIBPNG}/include \
-I/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${ZLIB}/include \
-I/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${LIBTIFF}/include \
-I/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${JPEG}/include \
-I/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${PROXY_LIBINTL}/include" \
LDFLAGS="-L/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${LIBPNG}/lib \
-L/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${ZLIB}/lib \
-L/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${LIBTIFF}/lib \
-L/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${JPEG}/lib \
-L/devel/dist/${ARCH}/${PROXY_LIBINTL}/lib -Wl,--exclude-libs=libintl.a \
-Wl,--enable-auto-image-base" \
LIBS=-lintl \
./configure \
--with-gdktarget=win32 \
--disable-gdiplus \
--with-included-immodules \
--without-libjasper \
--enable-debug=yes \
--enable-explicit-deps=no \
--disable-gtk-doc \
--disable-static \
--prefix=$TARGET &&

libtoolcacheize &&
rm gtk/gtk.def &&
(PATH="$PWD/gdk-pixbuf/.libs:/devel/target/$HEX/bin:$PATH" make -j3 install || (rm .libtool-cache* && PATH="/devel/target/$HEX/bin:$PATH" make -j3 install)) &&

PATH="/devel/target/$HEX/bin:$PATH" gdk-pixbuf-query-loaders >/devel/target/$HEX/etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders &&

grep -v -E 'Automatically generated|Created by|LoaderDir =' <$TARGET/etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders >$TARGET/etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders.temp &&
    mv $TARGET/etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders.temp $TARGET/etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders &&
grep -v -E 'Automatically generated|Created by|ModulesPath =' <$TARGET/lib/gtk-2.0/2.10.0/immodules.cache >$TARGET/lib/gtk-2.0/2.10.0/immodules.temp &&
    mv $TARGET/lib/gtk-2.0/2.10.0/immodules.temp $TARGET/lib/gtk-2.0/2.10.0/immodules.cache &&

./ &&

mv /tmp/${MOD}-${VER}.zip /tmp/$RUNZIP &&
mv /tmp/${MOD}-dev-${VER}.zip /tmp/$DEVZIP

) 2>&1 | tee /devel/src/tml/packaging/$THIS.log

(cd /devel && zip /tmp/$DEVZIP src/tml/packaging/$THIS.{sh,log}) &&
manifestify /tmp/$RUNZIP /tmp/$DEVZIP

You should not just copy the above blindly. There are some things in
the script that are very specific to *my* build setup on *my* current
machine. For instance the "latest" command, the "usedev" and
"usemsvs6" shell functions, the /devel/dist folder. The above script
is really just meant for reference, to give an idea. You really need
to understand what things like PKG_CONFIG_PATH are and set them up
properly after installing the dependencies before building GTK+.

As you see above, after running configure, one can just say "make
install", like on Unix. A post-build fix is needed, running
gdk-pixbuf-query-loaders once more to get a correct gdk-pixbuf.loaders

For a 64-bit build you need to remove the gtk/gtk.def file and let it
be regenerated by the makefilery. This is because the 64-bit GTK dll
has a slightly different list of exported function names. This is on
purpose and not a bug. The API is the same at the source level, and
the same #defines of some function names to actually have a _utf8
suffix is used (just to keep the header simpler). But the
corresponding non-suffixed function to maintain ABI stability are not
needed in the 64-bit case (because there are no older EXEs around that
would require such for ABI stability).

2) Microsoft's tools

Use the Microsoft compiler, cl and Make, nmake. Say nmake -f
makefile.msc in gdk and gtk. Be prepared to manually edit various
makefile.msc files, and the makefile snippets in build/win32.

There are also VS 2008/2010 solution and project files to build GTK+, which
are maintained by Chun-wei Fan. They should build GTK+ out of the box,
provided that the afore-mentioned dependencies are installed. They will
build GDK with the Win32 backend, GTK+ itself and the gtk-demo program.
(The GAIL and GAIL-util sources are not built by this method yet)

Please refer to the following GNOME Live! page for a more detailed ouline
on the process of building the GTK+ stack and its dependencies with Visual

Alternative 1 also generates Microsoft import libraries (.lib), if you
have lib.exe available. It might also work for cross-compilation from

I (Tor) use method 1 myself. Hans Breuer has been taking care of the MSVC
makefiles. At times, we disagree a bit about various issues, and for
instance the makefile.msc files might not produce identically named
DLLs and import libraries as the "autoconfiscated" makefiles and
libtool do. If this bothers you, you will have to fix the makefiles.

Using GTK+ on Win32

To use GTK+ on Win32, you also need either one of the above mentioned
compilers. Other compilers might work, but don't count on it. Look for
prebuilt developer packages (DLLs, import libraries, headers) on the
above website.

Multi-threaded use of GTK+ on Win32

Multi-threaded GTK+ programs might work on Windows in special simple
cases, but not in general. Sorry. If you have all GTK+ and GDK calls
in the same thread, it might work. Otherwise, probably not at
all. Possible ways to fix this are being investigated.


The tablet support uses the Wintab API. The Wintab development kit is
no longer required. The wintab.h header file is bundled with GTK+
sources. Unfortunately it seems that only Wacom tablets come with
support for the Wintab API nowadays.

--Tor Lillqvist <>, <>
--Updated by Fan, Chun-wei <>