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On Linux, install the development packages for FreeType, Cairo, and GLib. For example, on Ubuntu / Debian, you would do:

sudo apt-get install gcc g++ libfreetype6-dev libglib2.0-dev libcairo2-dev

whereas on Fedora, RHEL, CentOS, and other Red Hat based systems you would do:

sudo yum install gcc gcc-c++ freetype-devel glib2-devel cairo-devel

on Windows, consider using vcpkg, provided by Microsoft, for building HarfBuzz and other open-source libraries but if you need to build harfbuzz from source, put ragel binary on your PATH and follow appveyor CI's cmake build steps.

on macOS, using MacPorts:

sudo port install freetype glib2 cairo

or using Homebrew:

brew install freetype glib cairo

If you are using a tarball, you can now proceed to running configure and make as with any other standard package. That should leave you with a shared library in src/, and a few utility programs including hb-view and hb-shape under util/.

If you are bootstraping from git, you need a few more tools before you can run autogen.sh for the first time. Namely, pkg-config and ragel.

Again, on Ubuntu / Debian:

sudo apt-get install autoconf automake libtool pkg-config ragel gtk-doc-tools

and on Fedora, RHEL, CentOS:

sudo yum install autoconf automake libtool pkgconfig ragel gtk-doc

on the Mac, using MacPorts:

sudo port install autoconf automake libtool pkgconfig ragel gtk-doc

or using Homebrew:

brew install autoconf automake libtool pkgconfig ragel gtk-doc

To build the Python bindings, you also need:

brew install pygobject3