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General Linux Guide

To build Cataclysm from source you will need at least a C++ compiler, some basic developer tools, and necessary build dependencies. The exact package names vary greatly from distro to distro, so this part of the guide is intended to give you higher-level understanding of the process.


You have three major choices here: GCC, Clang and MXE.

  • GCC is almost always the default on Linux systems so it's likely you already have it
  • Clang is usually faster than GCC, so it's worth installing if you plan to keep up with the latest experimentals
  • MXE is a cross-compiler, so of any importance only if you plan to compile for Windows on your Linux machine

(Note that your distro may have separate packages e.g. gcc only includes the C compiler and for C++ you'll need to install g++.)

Cataclysm is targeting C++11 standard and that means you'll need a compiler that supports it. You can easily check if your version of g++ supports C++11 by running:

$ g++ --std=c++11
g++: fatal error: no input files
compilation terminated.

If you get a line like:

g++: error: unrecognized command line option ‘--std=c++11’

This means you'll need a newer version of GCC (g++).

The general rule is the newer the compiler the better.


Most distros seem to package essential build tools as either a single package (Debian and derivatives have build-essential) or a package group (Arch has base-devel). You should use the above if available. Otherwise you'll at least need make and figure out the missing dependencies as you go (if any).

Besides the essentials you will need git.

If you plan on keeping up with experimentals you should also install ccache, which will considerably speed-up partial builds.


There are some general dependencies, optional dependencies and then specific dependencies for either curses or tiles builds. The exact package names again depend on the distro you're using, and whether your distro packages libraries and their development files separately (e.g. Debian and derivatives).

Rough list based on building on Arch:

  • General: gcc-libs, glibc, zlib, bzip2
  • Optional: lua51, gettext
  • Curses: ncurses
  • Tiles: sdl2, sdl2_image, sdl2_ttf, sdl2_mixer, freetype2

E.g. for curses build on Debian and derivatives you'll also need libncurses5-dev or libncursesw5-dev.

Note on optional dependencies:

  • gettext - for localization support; if you plan to only use English you can skip it
  • lua - for full-fledged mods; you'll probably prefer to have it

You should be able to figure out what you are missing by reading the compilation errors and/or the output of ldd for compiled binaries.

Make flags

Given you're building from source you have a number of choices to make:

  • NATIVE= - you should only care about this if you're cross-compiling
  • RELEASE=1 - without this you'll get a debug build (see note below)
  • LTO=1 - enables link-time optimization with GCC/Clang
  • TILES=1 - with this you'll get the tiles version, without it the curses version
  • SOUND=1 - if you want sound; this requires TILES=1
  • LOCALIZE=0 - this disables localizations so gettext is not needed
  • LUA=1 - this enables Lua support; needed only for full-fledged mods
  • CLANG=1 - use Clang instead of GCC
  • CCACHE=1 - use ccache
  • USE_LIBCXX=1 - use libc++ instead of libstdc++ with Clang (default on OS X)

There is a couple of other possible options - feel free to read the Makefile.

If you have a multi-core computer you'd probably want to add -jX to the options, where X should roughly be twice the number of cores you have available.

Example: make -j4 CLANG=1 CCACHE=1 NATIVE=linux64 RELEASE=1 TILES=1

The above will build a tiles release explicitly for 64 bit Linux, using Clang and ccache and 4 parallel processes.

Example: make -j2 LOCALIZE=0

The above will build a debug-enabled curses version for the architecture you are using, using GCC and 2 parallel processes.

Note on debug: You should probably always build with RELEASE=1 unless you experience segfaults and are willing to provide stack traces.


Instructions for compiling on a Debian-based system. The package names here are valid for Ubuntu 12.10 and may or may not work on your system.

Building instructions, below, always assume you are running them from the Cataclysm:DDA source directory.

Linux (native) ncurses builds


  • ncurses or ncursesw (for multi-byte locales)
  • build essentials


sudo apt-get install libncurses5-dev libncursesw5-dev build-essential




Linux (native) SDL builds


  • SDL
  • SDL_ttf
  • freetype
  • build essentials


sudo apt-get install libsdl1.2-dev libsdl-ttf2.0-dev libfreetype6-dev build-essential



make TILES=1

Cross-compiling to linux 32-bit from linux 64-bit


  • 32-bit toolchain
  • 32-bit ncursesw (compatible with both multi-byte and 8-bit locales)


sudo apt-get install libc6-dev-i386 lib32stdc++-dev g++-multilib lib32ncursesw5-dev



make NATIVE=linux32

Cross-compile to Windows from Linux

To cross-compile to Windows from Linux, you will need MXE. The main difference between the native build process and this one, is the use of the CROSS flag for make. The other make flags are still applicable.

  • CROSS= - should be the full path to MXE g++ without the g++ part at the end



sudo apt-get install autoconf automake autopoint bash bison bzip2 cmake flex gettext git g++ gperf intltool libffi-dev libgdk-pixbuf2.0-dev libtool libltdl-dev libssl-dev libxml-parser-perl make openssl p7zip-full patch perl pkg-config python ruby scons sed unzip wget xz-utils g++-multilib libc6-dev-i386 libtool-bin
mkdir -p ~/src/mxe
git clone ~/src/mxe
cd ~/src/mxe
make MXE_TARGETS='x86_64-w64-mingw32.static i686-w64-mingw32.static' sdl2 sdl2_ttf sdl2_image sdl2_mixer gettext lua ncurses

If you are not on a Debian derivative (Linux Mint, Ubuntu, etc), you will have to use a different command than apt-get to install the MXE requirements. Building all these packages from MXE might take a while even on a fast computer. Be patient. If you are not planning on building for both 32-bit and 64-bit, you might want to adjust your MXE_TARGETS.

Building (SDL)


make CROSS="~/src/mxe/usr/bin/${PLATFORM}-" TILES=1 SOUND=1 LUA=1 RELEASE=1 LOCALIZE=1

Change PLATFORM to x86_64-w64-mingw32.static for a 64-bit Windows build.

To create nice zip file with all the required resources for a trouble free copy on Windows use the bindist target like this:

make CROSS="~/src/mxe/usr/bin/${PLATFORM}-" TILES=1 SOUND=1 LUA=1 RELEASE=1 LOCALIZE=1 bindist

Building (ncurses)


make CROSS="~/src/mxe/usr/bin/${PLATFORM}-" LUA=1 RELEASE=1 LOCALIZE=1

Cross-compile to Mac OS X from Linux

The procedure is very much similar to cross-compilation to Windows from Linux. Tested on ubuntu 14.04 LTS but should work on other distros as well.


Make sure that all dependency tools are in search PATH before compiling.


To set up the compiling environment execute the following commands git clone to clone the toolchain cd osxcross cp ~/MacOSX10.11.sdk.tar.bz2 ./tarballs/ copy prepared MacOSX SDK tarball on place. Read more about it OSX_VERSION_MIN=10.7 ./ to build everything Note the targeted minimum supported version of OSX.

Have a prepackaged set of libs and frameworks in place, since compiling with osxcross built-in MacPorts is rather difficult and not supported at the moment. Your directory tree should look like:

├── Frameworks
│   ├── SDL2.framework
│   ├── SDL2_image.framework
│   ├── SDL2_mixer.framework
│   └── SDL2_ttf.framework
└── libs
    ├── gettext
    │   ├── include
    │   └── lib
    ├── lua
    │   ├── include
    │   └── lib
    └── ncurses
        ├── include
        └── lib

Populated with respective frameworks, dylibs and headers. Tested lib versions are libintl.8.dylib for gettext, liblua.5.2.4.dylib for lua, libncurses.5.4.dylib for ncurses. These libs were obtained from homebrew binary distribution at OS X 10.11 Frameworks were obtained from SDL official website as described in the next section

Building (SDL)

To build full feature tiles and sound enabled version with localizations and lua enabled:

make dmgdist CROSS=x86_64-apple-darwin15- NATIVE=osx OSX_MIN=10.7 USE_HOME_DIR=1 CLANG=1

Make sure that x86_64-apple-darwin15-clang++ is in PATH environment variable.

Building (ncurses)

To build full curses version with localizations and lua enabled:

make dmgdist CROSS=x86_64-apple-darwin15- NATIVE=osx OSX_MIN=10.7 USE_HOME_DIR=1 CLANG=1

Make sure that x86_64-apple-darwin15-clang++ is in PATH environment variable.

Mac OS X

To build Cataclysm on Mac you'll need Command Line Tools for Xcode and the Homebrew package manager. With Homebrew, you can easily install or build Cataclysm using the Cataclysm forumla on Homebrew Games.

Simple build using Homebrew

Once you have Homebrew installed, open Terminal and run one of the following commands.

For a curses build:

brew install homebrew/games/cataclysm

For a tiles build:

brew install homebrew/games/cataclysm --with-tiles

For an experimental curses build:

brew install homebrew/games/cataclysm --HEAD

For an experimental tiles build:

brew install homebrew/games/cataclysm --with-tiles --HEAD

Whichever build you choose, Homebrew will install the appropriate dependencies as needed. The installation will be in /usr/local/Cellar/cataclysm with a symlink named cataclysm in /usr/local/bin.

To launch Cataclysm, just open Terminal and run cataclysm.

To update an experimental build, you must uninstall Cataclysm, then reinstall using one of the above commands. If you want to keep your saved games, be sure to backup the folder /usr/local/Cellar/cataclysm/HEAD/libexec/save first, then uninstall Cataclysm using the command:

brew rm cataclysm

Advanced info for Developers

For most people, the simple Homebrew installation is enough. For developers, here are some more technical details on building Cataclysm on Mac OS X.


SDL2, SDL2_image, and SDL2_ttf are needed for the tiles build. Optionally, you can add SDL2_mixer for sound support. Cataclysm can be built using either the SDL framework, or shared libraries built from source.

The SDL framework files can be downloaded here:

Copy SDL2.framework, SDL2_image.framework, and SDL2_ttf.framework to /Library/Frameworks or /Users/name/Library/Frameworks.

If you want sound support, you will need an additional SDL framework:

Copy SDL2_mixer.framework to /Library/Frameworks or /Users/name/Library/Frameworks.

Alternatively, SDL shared libraries can be installed using a package manager:

For Homebrew:

brew install sdl2 sdl2_image sdl2_ttf

with sound:

brew install sdl2_mixer libvorbis libogg

For MacPorts:

sudo port install libsdl2 libsdl2_image libsdl2_ttf

with sound:

sudo port install libsdl2_mixer libvorbis libogg

ncurses and gettext

ncurses (with wide character support enabled) and gettext are needed if you want to build Cataclysm with localization.

For Homebrew:

brew tap homebrew/dupes
brew install gettext ncurses
brew link --force gettext ncurses

Then, after compiling, be sure to unlink these libraries to prevent conflicts with the OS X shared libraries:

brew unlink gettext ncurses

For MacPorts:

sudo port install gettext ncurses
hash -r


The Cataclysm source is compiled using make.

Make options

  • NATIVE=osx build for OS X. Required for all Mac builds.
  • OSX_MIN=version sets -mmacosx-version-min= (for OS X > 10.5 set it to 10.6 or higher); omit for 10.5.
  • TILES=1 build the SDL version with graphical tiles (and graphical ASCII); omit to build with ncurses.
  • SOUND=1 - if you want sound; this requires TILES=1 and the additional dependencies mentioned above.
  • FRAMEWORK=1 (tiles only) link to SDL libraries under the OS X Frameworks folders; omit to use SDL shared libraries from Homebrew or Macports.
  • LOCALIZE=0 disable localization (to get around possible gettext errors if it is not setup correctly); omit to use gettext.
  • LANGUAGES="<lang_id_1>[lang_id_2][...]" compile localization files for specified languages. e.g. LANGUAGES="zh_CN zh_TW". You can also use LANGUAGES=all to compile all localization files.
  • RELEASE=1 build an optimized release version; omit for debug build.
  • CLANG=1 build with Clang, the compiler that's included with the latest Command Line Tools for Xcode; omit to build using gcc/g++.
  • MACPORTS=1 build against dependencies installed via Macports, currently only gettext and ncurses.
  • USE_HOME_DIR=1 places user files (config, saves, graveyard, etc) in the user's home directory. For curses builds, this is /Users/<user>/.cataclysm-dda, for SDL builds it is /Users/<user>/Library/Application Support/Cataclysm.
  • DEBUG_SYMBOLS=1 retains debug symbols when building an optimized release binary, making it easy for developers to spot the crash site.

In addition to the options above, there is an app make target which will package the tiles build into, a complete tiles build in a Mac application that can run without Terminal.

For more info, see the comments in the Makefile.

Make examples

Build a release SDL version using Clang without gettext:


Build a release SDL version using Clang, link to libraries in the OS X Frameworks folders, don't use gettext, and package it into


Build a release curses version with gettext supplied by Macports:


Compiling localization files

If you just want to compile localization files for specified languages, you can add LANGUAGES="<lang_id_1>[lang_id_2][...]" option to make command:

make LANGUAGES="zh_CN zh_TW"

You can get the language ID from the filenames of *.po in lang/po directory. Setting LOCALIZE=1 may not tell make to compile those localization files for you.


For curses builds:


For SDL:


For app builds, launch from Finder.

dmg distribution

You can build a nice dmg distribution file with the dmgdist target. You will need a tool called dmgbuild. To install this tool, you will need Python first. If you are on Mac OS X >= 10.8, Python 2.7 is pre-installed with the OS. If you are on an older version of OS X, you can download Python on their official website or install it with homebrew brew install python. Once you have Python, you should be able to install dmgbuild by running:

# This install pip. It might not be required if it is already installed.
curl --silent --show-error --retry 5 | sudo python
# dmgbuild install
sudo pip install dmgbuild pyobjc-framework-Quartz

Once dmgbuild is installed, you will be able to use the dmgdist target like this. The use of USE_HOME_DIR=1 is important here because it will allow for an easy upgrade of the game while keeping the user config and his saves in his home directory.


You should see a Cataclysm.dmg file.


ISSUE: crash on startup due to libint.8.dylib aborting

If you're compiling on Mountain Lion or above, it won't be possible to run successfully on older OS X versions due to libint.8 / pthreads version issue.


"There's another issue with building on Lion or Mountain Lion using either "native" or the 10.7 SDK: Apple has updated the pthreads implementation to provide recursive locking. This would be good except that Gettext's libintl uses this and if the pthreads implementation doesn't provide it it fabricates its own. Since the Lion pthreads does provide it, libintl links the provided function and then crashes when you try to run it against an older version of the library. The simplest solution is to specify the 10.6 SDK when building on Lion, but that won't work on Mountain Lion, which doesn't include it. See below for how to install and use XCode 3 on Lion and later for building applications compatible with earlier versions of OSX."

Workaround: install XCode 3 like that article describes, or disable localization support in Cataclysm so gettext/libint are not dependencies. Or else simply don't support OS X versions below 10.7.

ISSUE: Colors don't show up correctly

Open Terminal's preferences, turn on "Use bright colors for bold text" in "Preferences -> Settings -> Text"


Visual Studio Guide

Visual Studio 2015 is required to build Cataclysm. We created solution and project files in directory msvc-full-features. Because of the complexity and how troublesome defining every combination of build feature options are, in Visual Studio project we added all build features, including tiles, sound, localization and lua.


We've prepared an archive containing all the headers and libraries required to build Cataclysm: or The latter is smaller, but if you don't have a 7-zip archive extracter, the former one is easier to deal with.

Extract the 'WinDepend' folder and put it in the root folder of Cataclysm project.

All the thing you need to do next is to install lua. Download x86 32-bit lua.exe from and put it in C:\Windows\System32 if you are using a 32-bit Windows, or C:\Windows\SysWOW64 if you are using a 64-bit Windows.


Building Cataclysm with Visual Studio is very simple. Just build it like a normal Visual C++ project. The process may takes a long period of time, so you'd better prepare a cup of coffee and some books in front of your computer :)

If you need localization support, execute the bash script lang/ inside Git Bash GUI just like on a UNIX-like system.


After building Cataclysm, you may discover that after pressing the debug button in Visual Studio, Cataclysm just exits after launch with return code 1. That is because of the wrong working directory. You need to configure the working directory to $(ProjectDir)...

Make a distribution

There is a batch script in msvc-full-features folder distribute.bat. It will create a sub folder distribution and copy all required files(eg. data/, Cataclysm.exe and dlls) into that folder. Then you can zip it and share the archive on the Internet.

MinGW Guide

To compile under windows MinGW you first need to download mingw. An automated GUI installer assistant called mingw-get-setup.exe will make everything a lot easier. I recommend installing it to C:\MinGW

MinGW setup

once installed we need to get the right packages. In "Basic Setup", mark mingw-developer-toolkit, mingw32-base and mingw32-gcc-g++

Then install these components using Installation -> Apply Changes.


If we want to compile with localization, we will need gettext and libintl. In "All Packages -> MinGW -> MinGW Autotools" ensure that mingw32-gettext and mingw32-libintl are installed.

Required Tiles(SDL) Libraries

If we want to compile with Tiles (SDL) we have to download a few libraries.

Bundled Libraries

The following archives were pre-bundled for convienience and reduction of head-aches, simply download and extract directly to the root directory of the CDDA source:

Installing Tiles(SDL) libraries.

For the first 3 (SDL2, SDL_ttf and SDL_image) you want to extract the include and lib folders from the i686-w64-mingw32 folders into your MinGW installtion folder. (Reccomended C:\MinGW). And the SDL2_image.dll and SDL2_ttf.dll into your cataclysm root folder.

For freetype you want to grab the include and lib folders from the and move them into your your MinGW installation folder. Then you want to get the freetype6.dll from the and move it into your cataclysm root folder.

ISSUE - "winapifamily.h" no such file or directoyr

There seems to be at the moment of writing that a file in SDL is broken and needs to be replaced. Replace SDL_platform.h in the MinGW/include/SDL2 folder and it should be fine.

Makefile changes

This probably not the best way to do it. But it seems that you need to remove a few dependenceis from the makefile or it will not build. change the line LDFLAGS += -lfreetype -lpng -lz -ljpeg -lbz2 to LDFLAGS += -lfreetype


Navigate to MinGW\msys\1.0 and run msys.bat. This will start a cmd-like shell where the following entries will be made.

Add the MinGW toolchain to your PATH with export PATH=$PATH:/c/MinGW/bin. Replace /c/MinGW/ with the directory into which you installed MinGW (/c/ stands for drive C:, so if it's in F:/foo/bar, you'd use /f/foo/bar).

Navigate to the CDDA source code directory.

Compile using make TILES=1 NATIVE=win32 LOCALIZE=1 and unless there are problems, it should produce a CDDA binary for you.

If you dont want tiles you can change TILES to 0.

If you dont want localization you can change LOCALIZE to 0.

Rough guide to building with only MSYS2

This is a tentative step-by-step guide to building your own CDDA with Tiles, Localization and Lua using only MSYS2. You may want to follow it if the MinGW guide above doesn't work for you or you just feel adventurous. Feedback is very much welcome in terms of issues and/or pull-requests.

This guide assumes you're building on a x86_64 build of Windows. If not adjust the invocations appropriately. It has been tested and proven to work on Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10. Your mileage may vary.

1. Go to and download appropriate MSYS (top of the page).

2. Install MSYS2 and leave the Run ticker on. You should end up with a MSYS2 terminal.

3. In the open terminal:

pacman --needed -Sy bash pacman pacman-mirrors msys2-runtime

Note: You may close the terminal now and reopen it from the Start menu (MSYS2 Shell, just to be on the safe-er side).

Note: You may need to bash the close button repeatedly. Or use the task manager to kill it.

4. Open an editor that preserves line-endings

Note: Wordpad should do. Or Notepadd++.

5. Open C:\msys64\etc\pacman.conf and change:

# By default, pacman accepts packages signed by keys that its local keyring
# trusts (see pacman-key and its man page), as well as unsigned packages.
#SigLevel = Never
SigLevel    = Required DatabaseOptional
LocalFileSigLevel = Optional
#RemoteFileSigLevel = Required


# By default, pacman accepts packages signed by keys that its local keyring
# trusts (see pacman-key and its man page), as well as unsigned packages.
SigLevel = Never
#SigLevel    = Required DatabaseOptional
LocalFileSigLevel = Optional
#RemoteFileSigLevel = Required

(Exchange the # on SigLevel). This disables signature checking as it is currently borked.

6. Save the file

7. Run in MSYS2 terminal:

pacman -Su
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-SDL2 mingw-w64-x86_64-SDL2_image mingw-w64-x86_64-SDL2_mixer mingw-w64-x86_64-SDL2_ttf
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-ncurses
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-pkg-config mingw-w64-x86_64-libwebp
pacman -S git make
pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-lua

8. Close MSYS2 terminal and open MinGW-w64 Win64 Shell from Start menu and run:

Note: This will download whole CDDA repository. If you're just testing you should probably add --depth=1.

git clone
cd Cataclysm-DDA

9. Compile your CDDA by running:


Note: You cannot naively use -jX to speed up your building process with LUA=1. You must first run cd src/lua/ && lua generate_bindings.lua && cd ../.. if you want to use -jX. X should be the number of threads/cores your processor has.

That's it. You should get a cataclysm-tiles.exe binary in the same folder you've found the Makefile in. The make flags are the same as the ones described above. For instance, if you do not want to build with sound support, you can remove SOUND=1.


There are reports of CDDA building fine on recent OpenBSD and FreeBSD machines (with appropriately recent compilers), and there is some work being done on making the Makefile "just work", however we're far from that and BSDs support is mostly based on user contributions. Your mileage may vary. So far essentially all testing has been on amd64, but there is no (known) reason that other architectures shouldn't work, in principle.

Building on FreeBSD/amd64 10.1 with the system compiler

FreeBSD uses clang as the default compiler as of 10.0, and combines it with libc++ to provide C++11 support out of the box. You will however need gmake (examples for binary packages):

pkg install gmake

Tiles builds will also require SDL2:

pkg install sdl2 sdl2_image sdl2_mixer sdl2_ttf

Then you should be able to build with something like this (you can of course set CXXFLAGS and LDFLAGS in your .profile or something):

export CXXFLAGS="-I/usr/local/include" LDFLAGS="-L/usr/local/lib"
gmake # ncurses builds
gmake TILES=1 # tiles builds

The author has not tested tiles builds, as the build VM lacks X; they do at least compile/link successfully.

Building ncurses version on FreeBSD/amd64 9.3 with GCC 4.8.4 from ports

For ncurses build add to Makefile, before VERSION:

CXX = g++48
CXXFLAGS += -I/usr/local/lib/gcc48/include
LDFLAGS += -rpath=/usr/local/lib/gcc48

Note: or you can setenv the above (merging OTHERS into CXXFLAGS), but you knew that.

And then build with gmake LOCALIZE=0 RELEASE=1.

Building on OpenBSD/amd64 5.8 with GCC 4.9.2 from ports/packages

First, install g++, gmake, and libexecinfo from packages (g++ 4.8 or 4.9 should work; 4.9 has been tested):

pkg_add g++ gmake libexecinfo

Then you should be able to build with something like:

CXX=eg++ gmake

Only an ncurses build is possible on 5.8-release, as SDL2 is broken. On recent -current or snapshots, however, you can install the SDL2 packages:

pkg_add sdl2 sdl2-image sdl2-mixer sdl2-ttf

and build with:

CXX=eg++ gmake TILES=1

Building on NetBSD/amd64 7.0RC1 with the system compiler

NetBSD has (or will have) gcc 4.8.4 as of version 7.0, which is new enough to build cataclysm. You will need to install gmake and ncursesw:

pkgin install gmake ncursesw

Then you should be able to build with something like this (LDFLAGS for ncurses builds are taken care of by the ncurses configuration script; you can of course set CXXFLAGS/LDFLAGS in your .profile or something):

export CXXFLAGS="-I/usr/pkg/include"
gmake # ncurses builds
LDFLAGS="-L/usr/pkg/lib" gmake TILES=1 # tiles builds

SDL builds currently compile, but did not run in my testing - not only do they segfault, but gdb segfaults when reading the debug symbols! Perhaps your mileage will vary.