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Below are some notes on how to build Merit Core for Windows.

Most developers use cross-compilation from Ubuntu to build executables for Windows. This is also used to build the release binaries.

Building on Ubuntu Trusty 14.04 is recommended. At the time of writing the Windows Subsystem for Linux installs Ubuntu Xenial 16.04. The default cross compiler package for Ubuntu Xenial does not produce working executables for some of the Merit applications. It is possible to build on Ubuntu Xenial by installing the cross compiler packages from Ubuntu Zesty, see the steps below. Building on Ubuntu Zesty 17.04 up to 17.10 has been verified to work.

While there are potentially a number of ways to build on Windows (for example using msys / mingw-w64), using the Windows Subsystem For Linux is the most straightforward. If you are building with another method, please contribute the instructions here for others who are running versions of Windows that are not compatible with the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Compiling with Windows Subsystem For Linux

With Windows 10, Microsoft has released a new feature named the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This feature allows you to run a bash shell directly on Windows in an Ubuntu-based environment. Within this environment you can cross compile for Windows without the need for a separate Linux VM or server.

This feature is not supported in versions of Windows prior to Windows 10 or on Windows Server SKUs. In addition, it is available only for 64-bit versions of Windows.

For Windows 10 systems with the Fall Creators Update applied (version >= 16215.0) use the Windows Store to install Ubuntu. Search for "Linux" in the Windows Store and install the free "Ubuntu" application. Full instructions are available on the above link.

To get the bash shell, you must first activate the feature in Windows.

  1. Turn on Developer Mode
  • Open Settings -> Update and Security -> For developers
  • Select the Developer Mode radio button
  • Restart if necessary
  1. Enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux feature
  • From Start, search for "Turn Windows features on or off" (type 'turn')
  • Select Windows Subsystem for Linux (beta)
  • Click OK
  • Restart if necessary
  1. Complete Installation
  • Open a cmd prompt and type "bash"
  • Accept the license
  • Create a new UNIX user account (this is a separate account from your Windows account)

After the bash shell is active, you can follow the instructions below, starting with the "Cross-compilation" section. Compiling the 64-bit version is recommended but it is possible to compile the 32-bit version.


These steps can be performed on, for example, an Ubuntu VM. The depends system will also work on other Linux distributions, however the commands for installing the toolchain will be different.

First, install the general dependencies:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libtool autotools-dev automake pkg-config bsdmainutils curl git

A host toolchain (build-essential) is necessary because some dependency packages (such as protobuf) need to build host utilities that are used in the build process.

Cloning the repository

Clone the souce code of Merit Core using git

git clone

Cloning to some directories in Windows might require running Bash as an administrator.

Building for 64-bit Windows

The first step is to install the mingw-w64 cross-compilation tool chain. Due to different Ubuntu packages for each distribution and problems with the Xenial packages the steps for each are different.

Common steps to install mingw32 cross compiler tool chain:

sudo apt-get install g++-mingw-w64-x86-64

Ubuntu Trusty 14.04:

No further steps required

Ubuntu Xenial 16.04 and Windows Subsystem for Linux 1,2:

sudo apt install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository "deb artful universe"
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo update-alternatives --config x86_64-w64-mingw32-g++ # Set the default mingw32 g++ compiler option to posix.

Ubuntu Zesty 17.04 and Artful 17.10 2:

sudo update-alternatives --config x86_64-w64-mingw32-g++ # Set the default mingw32 g++ compiler option to posix.

Once the tool chain is installed the build steps are common:

PATH=$(echo "$PATH" | sed -e 's/:\/mnt.*//g') # strip out problematic Windows %PATH% imported var
cd depends
make HOST=x86_64-w64-mingw32
cd ..
./ # not required when building from tarball
CONFIG_SITE=$PWD/depends/x86_64-w64-mingw32/share/ ./configure --prefix=/

Building for 32-bit Windows

To build executables for Windows 32-bit, install the following dependencies:

sudo apt-get install g++-mingw-w64-i686 mingw-w64-i686-dev

For Ubuntu Xenial 16.04, Ubuntu Zesty 17.04, Artful 17.10 and Windows Subsystem for Linux 2:

sudo update-alternatives --config i686-w64-mingw32-g++  # Set the default mingw32 g++ compiler option to posix.

Then build using:

cd depends
make HOST=i686-w64-mingw32
cd ..
./ # not required when building from tarball
CONFIG_SITE=$PWD/depends/i686-w64-mingw32/share/ ./configure --prefix=/

Depends system

For further documentation on the depends system see in the depends directory.


After building using the Windows subsystem it can be useful to copy the compiled executables to a directory on the windows drive in the same directory structure as they appear in the release .zip archive. This can be done in the following way. This will install to c:\workspace\merit, for example:

make install DESTDIR=/mnt/c/workspace/merit


1: There is currently a bug in the 64 bit mingw-w64 cross compiler packaged for WSL/Ubuntu Xenial 16.04 that causes two of the Merit executables to crash shortly after start up. The bug is related to the -fstack-protector-all g++ compiler flag which is used to mitigate buffer overflows. Installing the mingw-w64 packages from the Ubuntu 17 distribution solves the issue, however, this is not an officially supported approach and it's only recommended if you are prepared to reinstall WSL/Ubutntu should something break.

2: Starting from Ubuntu Xenial 16.04 both the 32 and 64 bit mingw-w64 packages install two different compiler options to allow a choice between either posix or win32 threads. The default option is win32 threads which is the more efficient since it will result in binary code that links directly with the Windows kernel32.lib. Unfortunately, the headers required to support win32 threads conflict with some of the classes in the C++11 standard library in particular std::mutex. It's not possible to build the Merit Core code using the win32 version of the mingw-w64 cross compilers (at least not without modifying headers in the Merit Core source code).