Building Vim from source

Sachin Sharma edited this page Jul 27, 2017 · 57 revisions

Compiling Vim from source is actually not that difficult. Here's what you should do:

  1. First, install all the prerequisite libraries, including Git. For a Debian-like Linux distribution like Ubuntu, that would be the following:

    sudo apt-get install libncurses5-dev libgnome2-dev libgnomeui-dev \
        libgtk2.0-dev libatk1.0-dev libbonoboui2-dev \
        libcairo2-dev libx11-dev libxpm-dev libxt-dev python-dev \
        python3-dev ruby-dev lua5.1 lua5.1-dev libperl-dev git

    On Ubuntu 16.04, liblua5.1-dev is the lua dev package name not lua5.1-dev.

    (If you know what languages you'll be using, feel free to leave out packages you won't need, e.g. Python2 python-dev or Ruby ruby-dev. This principle heavily applies to the whole page.)

    For Fedora 20, that would be the following:

    sudo yum install -y ruby ruby-devel lua lua-devel luajit \
        luajit-devel ctags git python python-devel \
        python3 python3-devel tcl-devel \
        perl perl-devel perl-ExtUtils-ParseXS \
        perl-ExtUtils-XSpp perl-ExtUtils-CBuilder \

    This step is needed to rectify an issue with how Fedora 20 installs XSubPP:

    # symlink xsubpp (perl) from /usr/bin to the perl dir
    sudo ln -s /usr/bin/xsubpp /usr/share/perl5/ExtUtils/xsubpp 
  2. Remove vim if you have it already.

    sudo apt-get remove vim vim-runtime gvim

    On Ubuntu 12.04.2 you probably have to remove these packages as well:

    sudo apt-get remove vim-tiny vim-common vim-gui-common vim-nox
  3. Once everything is installed, getting the source is easy.

    Note: If you are using Python, your config directory might have a machine-specific name (e.g. config-3.5m-x86_64-linux-gnu). Check in /usr/lib/python[2/3/3.5] to find yours, and change the python-config-dir and/or python3-config-dir arguments accordingly.

    Note for Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty) users: You can only use Python 2 or Python 3. If you try to compile vim with both python-config-dir and python3-config-dir, it will give you an error YouCompleteMe unavailable: requires Vim compiled with Python (2.6+ or 3.3+) support.

    Add/remove the flags below to fit your setup. For example, you can leave out enable-luainterp if you don't plan on writing any Lua.

    Also, if you're not using vim 8.0, make sure to set the VIMRUNTIMEDIR variable correctly below (for instance, with vim 8.0a, use /usr/share/vim/vim80a). Keep in mind that some vim installations are located directly inside /usr/share/vim; adjust to fit your system:

    cd ~
    git clone
    cd vim
    ./configure --with-features=huge \
                --enable-multibyte \
                --enable-rubyinterp=yes \
                --enable-pythoninterp=yes \
                --with-python-config-dir=/usr/lib/python2.7/config \
                --enable-python3interp=yes \
                --with-python3-config-dir=/usr/lib/python3.5/config \
                --enable-perlinterp=yes \
                --enable-luainterp=yes \
                --enable-gui=gtk2 \
                --enable-cscope \
    make VIMRUNTIMEDIR=/usr/local/share/vim/vim80

    On Ubuntu 16.04, Python support was not working due to enabling both Python2 and Python3. Read answer by chirinosky for workaround.

    In practice, Python2 and Python3 are not working at the same time on Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS. Choosing one of them is OK.

    If you want to be able to easily uninstall vim use checkinstall.

    sudo apt-get install checkinstall
    cd ~/vim
    sudo checkinstall

    Otherwise, you can use make to install.

    cd ~/vim
    sudo make install

    Set vim as your default editor with update-alternatives.

    sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/editor editor /usr/bin/vim 1
    sudo update-alternatives --set editor /usr/bin/vim
    sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/vi vi /usr/bin/vim 1
    sudo update-alternatives --set vi /usr/bin/vim
  4. Double check that you are in fact running the new Vim binary by looking at the output of vim --version.

    If you don't get gvim working (on ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS), try changing --enable-gui=gtk2 to --enable-gui=gnome2

    If you have problems, double check that you configured using the correct Python config directory, as noted at the beginning of Step 3.

    These configure and make calls assume a Debian-like distro where Vim's runtime files directory is placed in /usr/share/vim/vim80/, which is not Vim's default. Same thing goes for --prefix=/usr in the configure call. Those values may need to be different with a Linux distro that is not based on Debian. In such a case, try to remove the --prefix variable in the configure call and the VIMRUNTIMEDIR in the make call (in other words, go with the defaults).

    If you get stuck, here's some other useful information on building Vim.