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Compiling GLFW

Table of Contents

This is about compiling the GLFW library itself. For information on how to build applications that use GLFW, see the Building applications guide.

Using CMake

GLFW uses CMake to generate project files or makefiles for a particular development environment. If you are on a Unix-like system such as Linux or FreeBSD or have a package system like Fink, MacPorts, Cygwin or Homebrew, you can simply install its CMake package. If not, you can download installers for Windows and OS X from the CMake website.

Note
CMake only generates project files or makefiles. It does not compile the actual GLFW library. To compile GLFW, first generate these files and then use them in your chosen development environment to compile the actual GLFW library.

Dependencies

Once you have installed CMake, make sure that all other dependencies are available. On some platforms, GLFW needs a few additional packages to be installed. See the section for your chosen platform and development environment below.

Dependencies for Visual C++ on Windows

The Microsoft Platform SDK that is installed along with Visual C++ already contains all the necessary headers, link libraries and tools except for CMake. Move on to Generating build files with CMake.

Dependencies for MinGW or MinGW-w64 on Windows

Both the MinGW and the MinGW-w64 packages already contain all the necessary headers, link libraries and tools except for CMake. Move on to Generating build files with CMake.

Dependencies for MinGW or MinGW-w64 cross-compilation

Both Cygwin and many Linux distributions have MinGW or MinGW-w64 packages. For example, Cygwin has the mingw64-i686-gcc and mingw64-x86_64-gcc packages for 32- and 64-bit version of MinGW-w64, while Debian GNU/Linux and derivatives like Ubuntu have the mingw-w64 package for both.

GLFW has CMake toolchain files in the CMake/ directory that allow for easy cross-compilation of Windows binaries. To use these files you need to add a special parameter when generating the project files or makefiles:

cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=<toolchain-file> .

The exact toolchain file to use depends on the prefix used by the MinGW or MinGW-w64 binaries on your system. You can usually see this in the /usr directory. For example, both the Debian/Ubuntu and Cygwin MinGW-w64 packages have /usr/x86_64-w64-mingw32 for the 64-bit compilers, so the correct invocation would be:

cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=CMake/x86_64-w64-mingw32.cmake .

For more details see the article CMake Cross Compiling on the CMake wiki.

Once you have this set up, move on to Generating build files with CMake.

Dependencies for Xcode on OS X

Xcode comes with all necessary tools except for CMake. The required headers and libraries are included in the core OS X frameworks. Xcode can be downloaded from the Mac App Store or from the ADC Member Center.

Once you have Xcode installed, move on to Generating build files with CMake.

Dependencies for Linux and X11

To compile GLFW for X11, you need to have the X11 and OpenGL header packages installed, as well as the basic development tools like GCC and make. For example, on Ubuntu and other distributions based on Debian GNU/Linux, you need to install the xorg-dev and libglu1-mesa-dev packages. The former pulls in all X.org header packages and the latter pulls in the Mesa OpenGL and GLU packages. GLFW itself doesn't need or use GLU, but some of the examples do. Note that using header files and libraries from Mesa during compilation will not tie your binaries to the Mesa implementation of OpenGL.

Once you have installed the necessary packages, move on to Generating build files with CMake.

Generating build files with CMake

Once you have all necessary dependencies it is time to generate the project files or makefiles for your development environment. CMake needs to know two paths for this: the path to the root directory of the GLFW source tree (i.e. not the src subdirectory) and the target path for the generated files and compiled binaries. If these are the same, it is called an in-tree build, otherwise it is called an out-of-tree build.

One of several advantages of out-of-tree builds is that you can generate files and compile for different development environments using a single source tree.

Note
This section is about generating the project files or makefiles necessary to compile the GLFW library, not about compiling the actual library.

Generating files with the CMake command-line tool

To make an in-tree build, enter the root directory of the GLFW source tree (i.e. not the src subdirectory) and run CMake. The current directory is used as target path, while the path provided as an argument is used to find the source tree.

cd <glfw-root-dir>
cmake .

To make an out-of-tree build, make a directory outside of the source tree, enter it and run CMake with the (relative or absolute) path to the root of the source tree as an argument.

mkdir glfw-build
cd glfw-build
cmake <glfw-root-dir>

Once you have generated the project files or makefiles for your chosen development environment, move on to Compiling the library.

Generating files with the CMake GUI

If you are using the GUI version, choose the root of the GLFW source tree as source location and the same directory or another, empty directory as the destination for binaries. Choose Configure, change any options you wish to, Configure again to let the changes take effect and then Generate.

Once you have generated the project files or makefiles for your chosen development environment, move on to Compiling the library.

Compiling the library

You should now have all required dependencies and the project files or makefiles necessary to compile GLFW. Go ahead and compile the actual GLFW library with these files, as you would with any other project.

Once the GLFW library is compiled, you are ready to build your applications, linking it to the GLFW library. See the Building applications guide for more information.

CMake options

The CMake files for GLFW provide a number of options, although not all are available on all supported platforms. Some of these are de facto standards among projects using CMake and so have no GLFW_ prefix.

If you are using the GUI version of CMake, these are listed and can be changed from there. If you are using the command-line version, use the ccmake tool. Some package systems like Ubuntu and other distributions based on Debian GNU/Linux have this tool in a separate cmake-curses-gui package.

Shared CMake options

BUILD_SHARED_LIBS determines whether GLFW is built as a static library or as a DLL / shared library / dynamic library.

LIB_SUFFIX affects where the GLFW shared /dynamic library is installed. If it is empty, it is installed to ${CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX}/lib. If it is set to 64, it is installed to ${CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX}/lib64.

GLFW_CLIENT_LIBRARY determines which client API library to use. If set to opengl the OpenGL library is used, if set to glesv1 for the OpenGL ES 1.x library is used, or if set to glesv2 the OpenGL ES 2.0 library is used. The selected library and its header files must be present on the system for this to work.

GLFW_BUILD_EXAMPLES determines whether the GLFW examples are built along with the library.

GLFW_BUILD_TESTS determines whether the GLFW test programs are built along with the library.

GLFW_BUILD_DOCS determines whether the GLFW documentation is built along with the library.

OS X specific CMake options

GLFW_USE_CHDIR determines whether glfwInit changes the current directory of bundled applications to the Contents/Resources directory.

GLFW_USE_MENUBAR determines whether the first call to glfwCreateWindow sets up a minimal menu bar.

GLFW_USE_RETINA determines whether windows will use the full resolution of Retina displays.

GLFW_BUILD_UNIVERSAL determines whether to build Universal Binaries.

Windows specific CMake options

USE_MSVC_RUNTIME_LIBRARY_DLL determines whether to use the DLL version or the static library version of the Visual C++ runtime library. If set to ON, the DLL version of the Visual C++ library is used. It is recommended to set this to ON, as this keeps the executable smaller and benefits from security and bug fix updates of the Visual C++ runtime.

GLFW_USE_DWM_SWAP_INTERVAL determines whether the swap interval is set even when DWM compositing is enabled. If this is ON, the swap interval is set even if DWM is enabled. It is recommended to set this to OFF, as doing otherwise can lead to severe jitter.

GLFW_USE_OPTIMUS_HPG determines whether to export the NvOptimusEnablement symbol, which forces the use of the high-performance GPU on Nvidia Optimus systems. This symbol needs to be exported by the EXE to be detected by the driver, so the override will not work if GLFW is built as a DLL. See Enabling High Performance Graphics Rendering on Optimus Systems for more details.

EGL specific CMake options

GLFW_USE_EGL determines whether to use EGL instead of the platform-specific context creation API. Note that EGL is not yet provided on all supported platforms.

Compiling GLFW manually

If you wish to compile GLFW without its CMake build environment then you will have to do at least some of the platform detection yourself. GLFW needs a number of configuration macros to be defined in order to know what it's being compiled for and has many optional, platform-specific ones for various features.

When building with CMake, the glfw_config.h configuration header is generated based on the current platform and CMake options. The GLFW CMake environment defines _GLFW_USE_CONFIG_H, which causes this header to be included by internal.h. Without this macro, GLFW will expect the necessary configuration macros to be defined on the command-line.

Three macros must be defined when compiling GLFW: one selecting the window creation API, one selecting the context creation API and one client library. Exactly one of each kind must be defined for GLFW to compile and link.

The window creation API is used to create windows, handle input, monitors, gamma ramps and clipboard. The options are:

The context creation API is used to enumerate pixel formats / framebuffer configurations and to create contexts. The options are:

Wayland and Mir both require the EGL backend.

The client library is the one providing the OpenGL or OpenGL ES API, which is used by GLFW to probe the created context. This is not the same thing as the client API, as many desktop OpenGL client libraries now expose the OpenGL ES API through extensions. The options are:

Note that _GLFW_USE_GLESV1 and _GLFW_USE_GLESV2 may only be used with EGL, as the other context creation APIs do not interface with OpenGL ES client libraries.

If you are building GLFW as a shared library / dynamic library / DLL then you must also define _GLFW_BUILD_DLL. Otherwise, you may not define it.

If you are using the X11 window creation API then you must also select an entry point retrieval mechanism.

In addition, support for the following X11 extensions can be enabled:

If you are using the Cocoa window creation API, the following options are available:

Note
None of the GLFW header option macros may be defined during the compilation of GLFW. If you define any of these in your build files, make sure they are not applied to the GLFW sources.