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Bitcoin Explorer

The Bitcoin Command Line Tool

Documentation is available on the wiki.

Downloads are available for Linux, Macintosh and Windows.

License Overview

All files in this repository fall under the license specified in COPYING. The project is licensed as AGPL with a lesser clause. It may be used within a proprietary project, but the core library and any changes to it must be published on-line. Source code for this library must always remain free for everybody to access.

About Libbitcoin

The libbitcoin toolkit is a set of cross platform C++ libraries for building bitcoin applications. The toolkit consists of several libraries, most of which depend on the foundational libbitcoin library. Each library's repository can be cloned and built using common Automake instructions.

About Libbitcoin Explorer

BX is a command line tool for working with Bitcoin. It can be built as a single portable executable for Linux, macOS or Windows and is available for download as a signed single executable for each. BX exposes over 80 commands and supports network communication with libbitcoin-server or its predecessor Obelisk, and the P2P Bitcoin network. BX is well documented and supports simple and advanced scenarios, including stealth and multisig.


Libbitcoin Explorer can be built from sources or downloaded as a signed portable single file executable.

The master branch is a staging area for the next major release and should be used only by libbitcoin developers. The current release branch is version3. Detailed installation instructions are provided below.

Autotools (advanced users)

On Linux and macOS Libbitcoin Explorer is built using Autotools as follows and depends on libbitcoin-client and libbitcoin-network.

$ ./
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install # optional
$ sudo ldconfig     # optional


Libbitcoin requires a C++11 compiler, currently minimum GCC 4.8.0 or Clang based on LLVM 3.5.

To see your GCC version:

$ g++ --version
g++ (Ubuntu 4.8.2-19ubuntu1) 4.8.2
Copyright (C) 2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO

If necessary, upgrade your compiler as follows:

$ sudo apt-get install g++-4.8
$ sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/g++ g++ /usr/bin/g++-4.8 50
$ sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gcc gcc /usr/bin/gcc-4.8 50
$ sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gcov gcov /usr/bin/gcov-4.8 50

Next install the build system and git:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential autoconf automake libtool pkg-config git

Next download the install script and enable execution:

$ wget
$ chmod +x

Finally install BX with recommended build options:

$ ./ --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --build-zmq --disable-shared

Bitcoin Explorer is now installed in /home/me/myprefix and can be invoked as $ bx.


The macOS installation differs from Linux in the installation of the compiler and packaged dependencies. BX supports both Homebrew and MacPorts package managers. Both require Apple's Xcode command line tools. Neither requires Xcode as the tools may be installed independently.

BX compiles with Clang on macOS and requires C++11 support. Installation has been verified using Clang based on LLVM 3.5. This version or newer should be installed as part of the Xcode command line tools.

To see your Clang/LLVM version:

$ clang++ --version

You may encounter a prompt to install the Xcode command line developer tools, in which case accept the prompt.

Apple LLVM version 6.0 (clang-600.0.54) (based on LLVM 3.5svn)
Target: x86_64-apple-darwin14.0.0
Thread model: posix

If required update your version of the command line tools as follows:

$ xcode-select --install

Using Homebrew

First install Homebrew.

$ ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Next install the build system and wget:

$ brew install autoconf automake libtool pkgconfig wget

Next download the install script and enable execution:

$ wget
$ chmod +x

Finally install BX with recommended build options:

$ ./ --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --build-zmq --disable-shared

Bitcoin Explorer is now installed in /home/me/myprefix and can be invoked as $ bx.

Using MacPorts

First install MacPorts.

Next install the build system and wget:

$ sudo port install autoconf automake libtool pkgconfig wget

Next download the install script and enable execution:

$ wget
$ chmod +x

Finally install BX with recommended build options:

$ ./ --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --build-zmq --disable-shared

Bitcoin Explorer is now installed in /home/me/myprefix and can be invoked as $ bx.

Build Notes for Linux / macOS

Any set of ./configure options can be passed via the build script, several examples follow.

Building for minimum size and with debug symbols stripped:

$ ./ CXXFLAGS="-Os -s" --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --disable-shared

The -s option is not supported by the Clang compiler. Instead use the command $ strip bs after the build.

Building without NDEBUG (i.e. with debug assertions) defined:

$ ./ --disable-ndebug --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --disable-shared

Building without building tests:

$ ./ --without-tests --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --disable-shared

Building from a specified directory, such as /home/me/mybuild:

$ ./ --build-dir=/home/me/mybuild --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --disable-shared

Building into a directory other than /usr/local, such as /home/me/myprefix:

$ ./ --prefix=/home/me/myprefix

Building and linking with a private copy of the Boost dependency:

$ ./ --build-boost --prefix=/home/me/myprefix

Building and linking with a private copy of the ZeroMQ dependency:

$ ./ --build-zmq --prefix=/home/me/myprefix

Building a statically-linked executable:

$ ./ --disable-shared --build-boost --build-zmq --prefix=/home/me/myprefix

Building a small statically-linked executable most quickly:

$ ./ CXXFLAGS="-Os -s" --without-tests --disable-shared --build-boost --build-zmq --prefix=/home/me/myprefix

Building with bash-completion support:

If your target system does not have it pre-installed you must first install the bash-completion package. Packages are available for common package managers, including apt-get, homebrew and macports.

$ ./ --with-bash-completion-dir --prefix=/home/me/myprefix --build-boost --disable-shared

Compiling with ICU (International Components for Unicode)

Since the addition of BIP-39 and later BIP-38 and Electrum mnemonic support, libbitcoin conditionally incorporates ICU. To use the BIP-38 and BIP-39 passphrase normalization features libbitcoin must be compiled with the --with-icu option.

$ ./ --with-icu --build-icu --build-boost --disable-shared

Compiling with QR Code Support

Since the addition of qrcode support, libbitcoin conditionally incorporates qrencode. This requires compiling with the --with-qrencode option.

$ ./ --with-qrencode --build-qrencode --build-boost --disable-shared

Since the addition of png support, libbitcoin conditionally incorporates libpng (which in turn requires zlib). This requires compiling with the --with-png option.

$ ./ --with-png --build-png --build-boost --disable-shared

There is a bug in the PNG library when using space optimization levels such as CXXFLAGS=-Os which will show up in a test run failure.

Building ICU, ZLib, PNG, QREncode ZeroMQ and/or Boost

The installer can download and install any or all of these dependencies. ICU is a large package that is not typically preinstalled at a sufficient level. Using these builds ensures compiler and configuration compatibility across all of the build components. It is recommended to use a prefix directory when building these components.

$ ./ --with-icu --with-png --with-qrencode --build-icu --build-zlib --build-png --build-qrencode --build-boost --build-zmq --prefix=/home/me/myprefix


Visual Studio solutions are maintained for all libbitcoin libraries and dependencies. See the libbitcoin-system repository general information about building the Visual Studio solutions. To build Libbitcoin Explorer you must also download and build its libbitcoin dependencies, as these are not yet packaged.

Build these solutions in order:

  1. libbitcoin/libbitcoin-system
  2. libbitcoin/libbitcoin-network
  3. libbitcoin/libbitcoin-protocol
  4. libbitcoin/libbitcoin-client
  5. libbitcoin/libbitcoin-explorer
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