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Nicholas Marriott edited this page Aug 6, 2021 · 22 revisions

Installing tmux

Binary packages

Many platforms provide prebuilt packages of tmux, although these are often out of date. Details of the commands to discover and install these can be found in the documentation for the platform package management tools, for example:

Platform Install Command
Arch Linux pacman -S tmux
Debian or Ubuntu apt install tmux
Fedora dnf install tmux
RHEL or CentOS yum install tmux
macOS (using Homebrew brew install tmux
macOS (using MacPorts) port install tmux
openSUSE zypper install tmux

Some thirdparty binary packages are available: AppImage and RPMs.

From source tarball

tmux requires two libraries to be available:

  1. libevent

  2. ncurses

In addition, tmux requires a C compiler, make, yacc (or bison) and pkg-config.

On most platforms, these are available as packages. This table lists the packages needed to run or to buld tmux:

Platform Command Run Packages Build Packages
Debian apt-get install libevent ncurses libevent-dev ncurses-dev build-essential bison pkg-config
RHEL or CentOS yum install libevent ncurses libevent-devel ncurses-devel gcc make bison pkg-config

If libevent and ncurses are not available as packages, they can be built from source, see this section.

tmux uses autoconf so it provides a configure script. To build and install into /usr/local using sudo, run:

tar -zxf tmux-*.tar.gz
cd tmux-*/
make && sudo make install

To install elsewhere add --prefix to configure, for example for /usr add --prefix=/usr.

Building dependencies

If the dependencies are not available, they can be built from source and installed locally. This is not recommended if the dependencies can be installed from system packages.

Building requires a C compiler, make, automake, autoconf and pkg-config to be installed. It is more common to need to build libevent than ncurses.

Full instructions can be found on the project sites but this is a summary of how to install libevent and ncurses into ~/local for a single user. To install system-wide into directories under /opt or into /usr/local, substitute the required path for for $HOME/local in each case and run make install as root (for example with sudo: make && sudo make install).

For libevent:

tar -zxf libevent-*.tar.gz
cd libevent-*/
./configure --prefix=$HOME/local --enable-shared
make && make install

For ncurses:

tar -zxf ncurses-*.tar.gz
cd ncurses-*/
./configure --prefix=$HOME/local --with-shared --with-termlib --enable-pc-files --with-pkg-config-libdir=$HOME/local/lib/pkgconfig
make && make install

Then the tmux configure script needs to be pointed to the local libraries using PKG_CONFIG_PATH:

tar -zxf tmux-*.tar.gz
cd tmux-*/
PKG_CONFIG_PATH=$HOME/local/lib/pkgconfig ./configure --prefix=$HOME/local
make && make install

If ncurses and libevent were installed in different directories rather than all together in ~/local, both their lib/pkgconfig directories will need to be in PKG_CONFIG_PATH, for example:

PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/opt/libevent/lib/pkgconfig:/opt/ncurses/lib/pkgconfig ./configure --prefix=$HOME/local

The newly built tmux can be found in ~/local/bin/tmux.

When tmux is installed locally on Linux, the runtime linker may need to be told where to find the libraries using the LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable, for example:

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$HOME/local/lib $HOME/local/bin/tmux -V

And to view the manual page, MANPATH must be set:

MANPATH=$HOME/local/share/man man tmux

Most users will want to configure these in a shell profile, for example in .profile for ksh or .bash_profile for bash:

export PATH=$HOME/local/bin:$PATH
export MANPATH=$HOME/local/share/man:$MANPATH

From version control

Building tmux from Git has the same dependencies as building from tarball plus also autoconf and automake. Building is the same as from a tarball except first the configure script must be generated. To install into /usr/local:

git clone
cd tmux
make && sudo make install

Configure options

tmux provides a few configure options:

Option Description
--enable-debug Build with debug symbols
--enable-static Create a static build
--enable-utempter Use the utempter library if it is installed
--enable-utf8proc Use the utf8proc library if it is installed

Common problems

configure says: libevent not found or ncurses not found

The libevent library or its headers are not installed. Make sure the appropriate packages are installed (some platforms split libraries from headers into a -dev or -devel package).

configure says: must give --enable-utf8proc or --disable-utf8proc

macOS's builtin UTF-8 support is very poor, so it is best to use the utf8proc library if possible. Once it is installed, pass --enable-utf8proc to configure.

To force tmux to build without utf8proc, use --disable-utf8proc.

tmux won't run from ~/local

On Linux, make sure LD_LIBRARY_PATH is set, or try a static build instead (give --enable-static to configure). complains about AM_BLAH

Make sure pkg-config is installed.

configure says: C compiler cannot create executables

Either no C compiler (gcc, clang) is installed, or it doesn't work - check there is nothing stupid in CFLAGS or CPPFLAGS.

AppImage package

Instructions and scripts on building an AppImage package for tmux are available from Nelson Enzo here. Prebuilt AppImage packages are also available here.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux / CentOS RPMs

The tmux packages available from the main repositories are often quite out of date, especially for long-term support distributions. RPMs for newer tmux versions can be obtained from here.

For example to set up a repository and install on RHEL8:

sudo yum install
sudo yum install tmux

Or to install an RPM directly on RHEL6:

sudo rpm -ivh

The repository method is recommended to automatically receive future package updates. See this page for more details.