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Naev Logo

Naev is a 2D space trading and combat game, taking inspiration from the Escape Velocity series, among others.

You pilot a space ship from a top-down perspective, and are more or less free to do what you want. As the genre name implies, you’re able to trade and engage in combat at will. Beyond that, there’s an ever-growing number of storyline missions, equipment, and ships; Even the galaxy itself grows larger with each release. For the literarily-inclined, there are large amounts of lore accompanying everything from planets to equipment.


Naev's dependencies are intended to be relatively common. In addition to an OpenGL-capable graphics card and driver with support for at least OpenGL 3.1, Naev requires the following:

  • SDL 2
  • libxml2
  • freetype2
  • libpng
  • OpenAL
  • libvorbis >= 1.2.2
  • binutils
  • intltool

If you're cross-compiling for Windows, you must install this soft dependency:

  • physfs, example package name mingw-w64-physfs


Install compile-time dependencies on Ubuntu 16.04 (and hopefully later) with:

apt-get install build-essential libsdl2-dev libsdl2-image-dev \
libgl1-mesa-dev libxml2-dev libfreetype6-dev libpng-dev libopenal-dev \
libvorbis-dev binutils-dev libiberty-dev autopoint intltool libfontconfig-dev \
pip3 install meson ninja


Warning: this procedure is inadequate if you want to build a that you can share with users of older macOS versions than your own.

Dependencies may be installed using Homebrew:

brew install freetype gettext intltool libpng libvorbis luajit meson openal-soft physfs pkg-config sdl2_image suite-sparse

Building the latest available code in git is recommended, but to build version 0.8 you can add sdl2_mixer (and autoconf-archive and automake if using Autotools to build).

Meson needs an extra argument to find Homebrew's openal-soft package: --pkg-config-path=/usr/local/opt/openal-soft/lib/pkgconfig. If build may fail if suite-sparse is installed via Homebrew, citing an undefined reference to _cs_di_spfree. A workaround is to pass --force-fallback-for=SuiteSparse. (These arguments may be passed to the initial meson setup or applied later using meson configure. For 0.8/Autotools, set the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable before running ./configure.)

Other *nix

See here for package lists for several distributions.



Naev requires the artwork submodule to run from git. You can check out the submodules from the cloned repository with:

git submodule init
git submodule update

Not that git submodule update has to be run every time you git pull to stay up to date. This can also be done automatically by setting the following configuration:

git config submodule.recurse true



meson setup builddir .
cd builddir
meson compile

If you need special settings you can run meson configure in your build directory to see a list of all available options.

For installation, try: meson configure --buildtype=release -Db_lto=true

For Windows packaging, try adding: --bindir=bin -Dndata_path=bin

For macOS, try adding: --prefix="$(pwd)"/build/dist/ --bindir=Contents/MacOS -Dndata_path=Contents/Resources

For normal development, try adding: --buildtype=debug -Db_sanitize=address (adding -Db_lundef=false if compiling with Clang, substituting -Ddebug_arrays=true for -Db_sanitize=... on Windows if you can't use Clang).

For faster debug builds (but harder to trace with gdb/lldb), try --buildtype=debugoptimized -Db_lto=true -Db_lto_mode=thin in place of the corresponding values above.


Naev currently supports meson install which will install everything that is needed.

If you wish to create a .desktop for your desktop environment, logos from 16x16 to 256x256 can be found in extras/logos/.


See for how to compile on windows.


Art assets are partially stored in the naev-artwork-production repository and sometimes are updated. For that reason, it is recommended to periodically update the submodules with the following command.

git submodule update

You can also set this to be done automatically on git pull with the following command:

git config submodule.recurse true

Afterwards, every time you perform a git pull, it will also update the artwork submodule.


Naev supports unicode and gettext since version 0.8.0.


Naev is incorporated into Weblate. You can easily translate directly with a web interface to your chosen language at .


If you are a developer, you may need to update translation files as text is modified. You can update all translation files with the following commands:

meson compile potfiles        # necessary if files have been added or removed
meson compile naev-pot        # necessary if translatable strings changed
meson compile naev-update-po  # necessary outside the main line, where Weblate handles it

This will allow you to edit the translation files in po/ manually to modify translations.

If you like, you can set up commit hooks to handle the potfiles step. For instance:

# .git/hooks/pre-commit
. utils/

# .git/hooks/post-commit
git diff --exit-code po/ || exec git commit --amend -C HEAD po/


Please take a look at the FAQ before submitting a new bug report, as it covers a number of common gameplay questions and common issues.

If Naev is crashing during gameplay, please file a bug report after reading