Window Maker Compilation and Installation

A guide to configure, compile and install WINDOW MAKER from sources.

This manual is for Window Maker, version git#next.

1 Prerequisites

1.1 Supported Platforms

  • Intel GNU/Linux Systems in general, ix86 and x86_64 but other architectures should work

  • BSD systems

  • Solaris, at least on release 10 and 11

Patches to make it work on other platforms are welcome.

1.2 Software Dependencies

The following software is required to use WINDOW MAKER:

  • X11R6.x

    Window Maker can be compiled in older versions of X, like X11R5 (Solaris) or X11R4 (OpenWindows) but it will not work 100% correctly. In such servers there will not be application icons and you'll have trouble using the dock. Upgrading the client libraries (Xlib, Xt, etc.) will help if you can't upgrade the server.

The following is required to build WINDOW MAKER:

  • Basic obvious stuff - gcc (or some other ANSI C compiler, supporting some C99 extensions) - glibc development files (usually glibc-devel in Linux distributions) - X development files (XFree86-devel or something similar)

  • Xft2 and its dependencies

    Dependencies include freetype2 and fontconfig. You will also need the development files for them (xft2-devel). Sources are available at:

Note: WINDOW MAKER is known to compile with gcc and clang; the code source is mostly ANSI C (also known as C89 and C90) but is uses very few of the C99 novelties; it also uses a few attributes introduced in the C11 standard but those are detected automatically, so most compilers should work.

1.3 Special Dependencies

If you want to compile using the sources from the git repository instead of the distribution package, you will also need:

  • git

  • autoconf 2.69

  • automake 1.12

  • libtool 1.4.2

1.4 Optional Dependencies

These libraries are not required to make <small>WINDOW MAKER</small> work, but they are supported in case you want to use them. Version numbers are indicative, but other versions might work too.

  • libXPM 4.7 or newer

    Older versions may not work!

    Available from

    There is built-in support for <em>XPM</em> files, but it will not load images in some uncommon encodings.

  • libpng 0.96 or newer and zlib

    For PNG image support,

  • libtiff 3.4 or newer

    For TIFF image support,

  • libjpeg 6.0.1 or newer

    For JPEG image support,

    Note that if you don't have it, configure will issue a big warning in the end, this is because JPEG images are often used in themes and for background images so you probably want this format supported.

  • libgif 2.2 or libungif

    For GIF image support,

  • WebP 0.4.1 or newer

    The reference library from Google for their image format,

  • GNU xgettext

    If you want to use translated messages, you will need GNU gettext. Other versions of gettext are not compatible and will not work. Get the GNU version from

  • Pango 1.36.8 or newer

    This library can be used by the WINGs toolkit to improve support for UTF-8 and for languages written in right-to-left direction, in some widgets. You have to explicitly ask for its support through (see Configure Options). You can get it from

  • libbsd

    This library can be used by the WINGs utility library to make use of strlcat and strlcpy instead of using built-in functions if your system does not provide them in its core libc. You should let WINDOW MAKER's configure detect this for you. You can get it from

  • Inotify

    If you have Linux's inotify support, WINDOW MAKER will use it to check for configuration updates instead of polling regularly the file. The needed header comes with the kernel, typical packages names include:

    • kernel-headers for Slackware and Fedora

    • linux-userspace-headers for Mageia

    • linux-libc-dev for Debian and Ubuntu

    • linux-glibc-devel for OpenSuSE

  • MagickWand 6.8.9-9 or newer

    If found, then the library WRaster can use the ImageMagick library to let WINDOW MAKER support more image formats, like SVG, BMP, TGA, ... You can get it from

  • Boehm GC

    This library can be used by the WINGs utility toolkit to use a Boehm-Demers-Weiser Garbage Collector instead of the traditional malloc/free functions from the libc. You have to explicitly ask for its support though (see Configure Options). You can get it from


2.1 Getting the Sources

The latest version of WINDOW MAKER (-crm) can be downloaded from

Alternatively, the development branch, called #next is in the git repository at

If you want to use the git versions, you can get it with:

git clone -b next git://

then, assuming you have the dependencies listed in Special Dependencies, you have to type:


to generate the configuration script.

Build and Install

For a quick start, type the following in your shell prompt:


then, login as root and type:

make install

or if you want to strip the debugging symbols from the binaries to make them smaller, you can type instead:

make install-strip

This will build and install WINDOW MAKER with default parameters.

If you want to customise some compile-time options, you can do the following:

  1. (optional) Look at the Configure Options, for the options available. Also run:

    ./configure --help

    to get a complete list of options that are available.

  1. Run configure with the options you want. For example, if you want to use the --enable-modelock option, type:

    ./configure --enable-modelock
  1. (optional) Edit src/wconfig.h with your favourite text editor and browse through it for some options you might want to change.

  1. Compile. Just type:

  1. Login as root (if you can't do that, read the [I don't have the root](#No-Root-Password)) and install WINDOW MAKER in your system:

    su root
    make install

2.2 User specific configuration

These instructions do not need to be followed when upgrading WINDOW MAKER from an older version, unless stated differently in the NEWS file.

Every user on your system that wishes to run WINDOW MAKER must do the following:

  1. Install Window Maker configuration files in your home directory. Type:


    wmaker.inst will install WINDOW MAKER configuration files and will setup X to automatically launch WINDOW MAKER at startup.

That's it!

You can type man wmaker to get some general help for configuration and other stuff.

Read the User Guide for a more in-depth explanation of WINDOW MAKER.

You might want to take a look at the FAQ too.

2.3 Locales/Internationalisation

WINDOW MAKER has national language support. The procedure to enable national language support is described in the dedicated Enabling Languages support in README.i18n.

2.4 Configure Options

These options can be passed to the configure script to enable/disable some WINDOW MAKER features. Example:

./configure --enable-modelock --disable-gif

will configure WINDOW MAKER with modelock supported and disable gif support. Normally, you won't need any of them.

To get the list of all options, run ./configure --help

2.4.1 Installation Directory

The default installation path will be in the /usr/local hierarchy; a number of option can customise this:

  • --prefix=PREFIX

  • --exec-prefix=EPREFIX

  • --bindir=DIR

  • --sysconfdir=DIR

  • --libdir=DIR

  • --includedir=DIR

  • --datarootdir=DIR

  • --datadir=DIR

  • --localedir=DIR

  • --mandir=DIR

    Standard options from autoconf to define target paths, you probably want to read Installation Names in `INSTALL`.

  • --sbindir=DIR

  • --libexecdir=DIR

  • --sharedstatedir=DIR

  • --localstatedir=DIR

  • --oldincludedir=DIR

  • --infodir=DIR

  • --docdir=DIR

  • --htmldir=DIR

  • --dvidir=DIR

  • --pdfdir=DIR

  • --psdir=DIR

    More standard options from autoconf, today these are not used by WINDOW MAKER; they are provided automatically by autoconf for consistency.

  • --with-gnustepdir=PATH

    Specific to WINDOW MAKER, defines the directory where will be installed, if you want to install it like a GNUstep applications. If not specified, it will be installed like usual programs.

  • --with-pixmapdir=DIR

    Specific to WINDOW MAKER, this option defines an additional path where pixmaps will be searched. Nothing will be installed there; the default path taken is DATADIR/pixmaps, where ATADIR` is the path defined from ``--datadir.

  • --with-defsdatadir=DIR

    Specific to WINDOW MAKER, defines the directory where system configuration files, e.g., WindowMaker, WMRootMenu, etc., are installed. The default value is SYSCONFDIR/WindowMaker, where SYSCONFDIR is the path defined from --sysconfdir.

2.4.2 External Libraries

Unless specifically written, configure will try to detect automatically for the libraries; if you explicitly provide --enable-FEATURE then it will break with an error message if the library cannot be linked; if you specify --disable-FEATURE then it will not try to search for the library. You can find more information about the libraries in the Optional Dependencies


Never enabled by default, use Boehm GC instead of the default libc malloc()


Disable GIF support in WRaster library; when enabled use libgif or libungif.


Disable JPEG support in WRaster library; when enabled use libjpeg.


Refuse use of the libbsd compatibility library in WINGs utility library, even if your system provides it.


Disable ImageMagick's MagickWand support in WRaster, used to support for image formats.


Disabled by default, enable Pango text layout support in WINGs.


Disable PNG support in WRaster; when enabled use libpng.


Disable TIFF support in WRaster. when enabled use libtiff.


Disable WEBP support in WRaster. when enabled use libwebp.


Disable use of libXpm for XPM support in WRaster, use internal code instead.

The following options can be used to tell configure about extra paths that needs to be used when compiling against libraries:


specify additional paths for libraries to be searched. The -L flag must precede each path, like:

--with-libs-from="-L/opt/libs -L/usr/local/lib"


specify additional paths for header files to be searched. The -I flag must precede each paths, like:

--with-incs-from="-I/opt/headers -I/usr/local/include"

2.4.3 X11 and Extensions

configure will try to detect automatically the compilation paths for X11 headers and libraries, and which X Extensions support can be enabled. if you explicitly provide --enable-FEATURE then it will break with an error message if the extension cannot be used; if you specify --disable-FEATURE then it will not check for the extension.

  • --x-includes=DIR

  • --x-libraries=DIR

    Autoconf's option to specify search paths for X11, for the case were it would not have been able to detect it automatically.


If you activated support for Native Languages, then X11 may use a hack to also configure its locale support when the program configure the locale for itself. The configure script detects if the Xlib supports this or not; this options explicitly disable this initialisation mechanism.


XKB language status lock support. If you don't know what it is you probably don't need it. The default is to not enable it.


Disable use of the MIT shared memory extension. This will slow down texture generation a little bit, but in some cases it seems to be necessary due to a bug that manifests as messed icons and textures.


Disables support for shaped windows (for oclock, xeyes, etc.).


The Xinerama extension provides information about the different screens connected when running a multi-head setting (if you plug more than one monitor).


The RandR extension provides feedback when changing the multiple-monitor configuration in X11 and allows to re-configure how screens are organised.

At current time, it is not enabled by default because it is NOT recommended (buggy); WINDOW MAKER only restart itself when the configuration change, to take into account the new screen size.

2.4.4 Feature Selection


Disable animations permanently, by not compiling the corresponding code into WINDOW MAKER. When enabled (the default), you still have a run-time configuration option in WPrefs.


Disable support for Motif's MWM Window Manager hints. These attributes were introduced by the Motif toolkit to ask for special window appearance requests. Nowadays this is covered by the NetWM/EWMH specification, but there are still applications that rely on MWM Hints.


Add support for the ICCCM protocol for cooperative window manager replacement. This feature is disabled by default because you probably don't need to switch seamlessly the window manager; if you are making a package for a distribution you'd probably want to enable this because it allows users to give a try to different window managers without restarting everything for an extra cost that is not really big.


Disable support for dragging and dropping files on the dock, which launches a user-specified command with that file. Starting from version 0.65.6 this feature is enabled by default.


This feature is auto-detected, and you should not use this option. When compiling a library (wrlib, ...), gcc has the possibility to filter the list of functions that will be visible, to keep only the public API, because it helps running programs faster.

The configure script checks if this feature is available; if you specify this option it will not check anymore and blindly trust you that it is supposed to work, which is not a good idea as you may encounter problems later when compiling.


This feature, disabled by default, allows to add a user-defined custom menu to applications; when choosing an entry of the menu it will send the key combination defined by the user to that application. See <a href="">Application User Menu</a> in NEWS for more information.


Selection of the domain used for translation of the menus; see Translations for Menus in README.i18n.

2.4.5 Developer Stuff

These options are disabled by default:


If you intend to re-run the configure script often, you probably want to include this option, so it will save and re-use the status of what have been detected in the file config.cache.


Enable debugging features (debug symbol, some extra verbosity and checks) and add a number of check flags (warnings) for the compiler (in gcc fashion).


Enable generation of code coverage and profiling data; if the DIRECTORY is not specified, use coverage-report.

This option was meant to be use with gcc; it was not used recently so it is probable that is does not work anymore; the configure script will not even check that your compiling environment has the appropriate requirements and works with this. Despite all this, if you think there's a use for it and feel in the mood to help, do not hesitate to discuss on the mailing list [email protected] to get it working.

3 Miscellaneous

3.1 Platform Specific Notes

  • GNU/Linux in general

    Make sure you have /usr/local/lib in /etc/ and that you run ldconfig after installing. Uninstall any packaged version of WINDOW MAKER before installing a new version.

  • RedHat GNU/Linux

    RedHat systems have several annoying problems. If you use it, be sure to follow the steps below or WINDOW MAKER will not work:

    • if you installed the WINDOW MAKER that comes with RedHat, uninstall it before upgrading;

    • make sure you have /usr/local/bin in your PATH environment variable;

    • make sure you have /usr/local/lib in /etc/ before running ldconfig;

  • PowerPC MkLinux

    You will need to have the latest version of Xpmac. Older versions seem to have bugs that cause the system to hang.

  • Debian GNU/Linux

    If you want JPEG and TIFF support, make sure you have libtiff-dev and libjpeg-dev installed.

  • SuSE GNU/Linux

    If you installed the WINDOW MAKER package from SuSE, uninstall it before trying to compile Window Maker or you might have problems.

  • MetroX (unknown version)

    MetroX has a bug that corrupts pixmaps that are set as window backgrounds. If you use MetroX and have weird problems with textures, do not use textures in title bars. Or use a different X server.

3.2 I don't have the root password :(

If you can't get superuser privileges (can't be root) you can install Window Maker in your own home directory. For that, supply the --prefix option when running configure in step 2 of building WINDOW MAKER. You will also need to supply the --with-gnustepdir option, to specify the path for


./configure --prefix=/home/jshmoe --with-gnustepdir=/home/jshmoe/GNUstep/Applications

Then make /home/jshmoe/bin be included in your search PATH, add /home/jshmoe/lib to your LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable and run bin/wmaker.inst

Of course, /home/jshmoe is supposed to be replaced by your actual home directory path.

3.3 Upgrading

If you are upgrading from an older version of WINDOW MAKER:

  1. Configure and build WINDOW MAKER as always

  2. Install WINDOW MAKER (but do not run wmaker.inst)

  3. Read the NEWS file and update your configuration files if necessary.

4 Troubleshooting

When you have some trouble during configuration (while running configure), like not being able to use a graphic format library you think you have installed, look at the config.log file for clues of the problem.

4.1 Error with loading fonts, even if they exist

This is probably a problem with NLS (Native Language Support), you probably want to look at the Troubleshooting in README.i18n or try rebuilding without NLS support, which is done with:

./configure LINGUAS=""

4.2 configure doesn't detect libtiff, or other graphic libraries

Delete config.cache, then rerun configure adding the following options to configure (among the other options you use):

--with-incs-from="-I/usr/local/include -I/usr/local/include/tiff"

Put the paths where your graphic libs and their corresponding header files are located. You can put multiple paths in any of these options, as the example of --with-incs-from shows. Just put a space between them.

4.3 configure doesn't detect libXpm

Check if you have a symbolic link from to

Segmentation fault on startup

  • Check if the version of libXPM you have is at least 4.7

  • Check if you have an updated version of ~/GNUstep/Defaults/WindowMaker

If you're not sure, try renaming ~/GNUstep to ~/GNUtmp and then run wmaker.inst

4.4 "...: your machine is misconfigured. gethostname() returned (none)"

the host name of your machine is set to something invalid, that starts with a parenthesis. Do a man hostname for info about how to set it.

4.5 The root menu contains only 2 entries. ("XTerm" and "Exit...")

WINDOW MAKER could not read your menu definition file. You should check the output of wmaker for an error, it may be visible in the console or in the .xsession-errors file.

Window Maker: Compilation and Installation