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Last updated March 2008
1. Read the below steps
2. Thank your lucky stars you don't have to follow them
3. Follow the instructions in VCBuild/VCBuild.txt instead
If you find gaps in this information, please tell
Note: In source code, _WIN32 is a flag set by the MinGW compiler,
and _MSC_VER is a flag set by the Microsoft Visual Studio compiler.
Download and install Python 2.5.x from
OpenGL is provided with the standard Windows installation.
Download and install numpy (
You need to download and install MinGW, then MSYS, then MSYS-DTK.
Go to The download section will send you to
Download and install the automated MinGW installer, currently MinGW-5.1.3.
Run this exe installer. Specify that you want the g++ compiler (for C++).
The installer will also install gcc-core, mingw-runtime, and w32api.
Note that detailed installation instructions are available at
by clicking on MinGWiki in the left column and choosing "Getting started".
From the same site, download and install MSYS.
You must click on MSYS Base System in the left column in order to find
and download the current release (currently MSYS-1.0.10.exe). Install,
and when asked, tell where MinGW is located (normally c:/MinGW). As a check
you should find "c:/mingw /mingw" in the mount table for MSYS, which is
Back on the main sourceforge page, click on MSYS Supplementary Tools
in the left column in order to find and download and install the current
release of the developer's toolkit (currently msysDTK-1.0.1.exe).
If a folder is (say) C:\installers\msys_stuff, in the MSYS application you type
cd /c/installers/msys_stuff. Note that the TAB key will complete an incomplete
file name. The up arrow retrieves an earlier command type-in.
After installing msysDTK-1.0.1.exe, you need to download and install from
the same source the following updates:
Run MSYS, and cd to the folder where you have downloaded these .bz2 files and
tar -xjf msys-autoconf-
tar -xjf msys-automake-1.8.2.tar.bz2
tar -xjf msys-libtool-1.5.tar.bz2
This will produce a bunch of folders (bin, lib, and so on). Copy these folders
to c:\msys\1.0. Note that Windows merges on copy, so you can simply drag all
the folders to c:\msys\1.0.
Copy Python25's libs/libpython25.a to /mingw/lib.
See for discussion.
From help obtained in (2008/01/31):
"For Windows Vista, Microsoft changed how msvcrt.dll reacts to access(),
normally in XP and 2000, X_OK parameter is ignored, but Vista pukes on it.
The MinGW gcc is affected by it. The patched version is found at"
If you're using Vista, get this file, start up MSYS, cd to the folder where
the gz file is located.
Execute gunzip gcc-vista-3.4.5-20060117-1.tar.gz. This will produce folders
bin and libexec. Copy the files in these folders to the corresponding locations
in c:/MinGW.
-------------Need to check whether the following stuff is necessary
If you are building on Windows Vista, execute "gcc --version" and note
the version number (e.g. 3.4.2). Then in msys/etc/profile, change the
PATH setting to include /mingw/bin:/mingw/libexec/gcc/mingw32/3.4.2 (otherwise
the configure step will fail due to a failure of gcc to find a file).
Vista problem: See the following note about why msys/bin/install can fail.
Downloading and installing the updated coreutils for msys did the trick.
I tried the following, and it didn't work for me:
"The heuristics can be turned off on Business and Ultimate editions of
Vista through the "Local Security Policy" found under Administrative Tools.
Look under "Local Policies / Security Options / User Account Control:
Detect application installations and prompt for elevation". I don't think
the security policy editor is included in home editions, but there should
be a registry hack which would have the same effect."
The Boost libraries are extensions to C++. Among the libraries
are python and thread libraries used by Visual. The python library
makes connections between Python and C++.
The following instructions can be used to build from source those
Boost libraries needed by Visual. However, the process takes a long
time, so precompiled files are available in the Developers section
of, which makes the following procedure unnecessary.
Download a precompiled version of the 'bjam' tool from
and place it into C:\mingw\bin (or anywhere else on your executable PATH).
Download latest Boost (1.34.1) from
> tar -xjf boost_1_34_1.tar.bz2
The following must be done from a Windows typescript, NOT from Msys.
(From Start/Run, execute cmd.)
> cd boost_1_34_1
(-a means rebuild all)
Make sure that Python 2.5 is the only Python installed, then (takes a long time):
> bjam --toolset=gcc --with-python --with-thread stage
Copy the directory named "boost" to /mingw/include.
Switch to Msys and cd to boost_1_34_1.
> cp stage/lib/boost_thread-mgw34-mt-1_34_1.dll /mingw/bin
> cp stage/lib/boost_thread-mgw34-mt-1_34_1.a /mingw/lib/libboost_thread.a
> similar for boost_signals
> cd bin.v2/libs/python/build/gcc-mingw-3.4.2/release/threading-multi
> cp boost_python-mgw34-mt-1_34_1.dll /mingw/bin
> cp boost_python-mgw34-mt-1_34_1.a /mingw/lib/libboost_python25.a
Another possibility would be to configure the boost build with a config file:
boost_1_34_1/tools/build/v2/user-config.jam is the user configuration file.
It should be placed in your home directory.
Your home directory can be found by executing ECHO %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%
gtk+ (also called gtk2), written in C, is a toolkit for building graphical user interface
programs; gtkmm is a "wrapper" of these C routines to make gtk+ functionality accessible
to C++ programmers.
Go to and download the following components.
In the zip files are folders containing files to be copied to the corresponding folders
in c:\MinGW. Note that Windows merges on copy, so you can simply double-click the zip file
and drag the folders to c:\MinGW; this will place the files in the correct locations. You
don't need to copy make or manifest folders.
gtk, gtk+-dev
gtkmm-win32-devel (this is an exe installer)
Includes atkmm, cairomm, gdkmm, glade--, glibmm, gtkmm,
libglademm, libsigc++, libxml++, pangomm
glib, glib-dev
atk, atk-dev
libglade, libglade-dev
pango, pango-dev
From the dependencies section:
cairo, cairo-dev
fontconfig, fontconfig-dev
freetype, freetype-dev
gettext-runtime, gettext-runtime-dev
libxml2, libxml2-dev
You need to set an environment variable for pkg-config:
Right click My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Environment Variables and
add a new user variable: name PKG_CONFIG_PATH, value c:\mingw\lib\pkgconfig.
NOTE: You can run "env" in an MSYS terminal to check that the path is appropriate.
A library such as sigc++ registers its version number in
mingw/lib/pkgconfig/sigc++-2.0.pc, which makes it possible for the build process
to find the installed version of the library.
Can test that pkg-config is correctly installed by executing this:
> pkg-config --cflags sigc++-2.0
See, where one finds that this is a piece
of interpreting xml files, apparently part of the glade machinery which reads
a data file which specifies the layout of the window, including the toolbar.
I found a copy of libexpat.dll here (copy to mingw/bin):
At get binaries and developer files for
LibPng (these are binary files, making the previous make instructions unneeded)
LibJpeg (get dependencies, too)
LibTiff (get dependencies, too)
The following should be copied over the files in msys, not mingw:
Libtool (the msys version is said to be too old).
Edit c:\msys\1.0\bin\libtoolize to specify prefix=/usr
instead of prefix=c:/progra~1/LibTool.
In the MSYS context, /usr means c:\msys\1.0
Noted on the web is some confusion over the name of libpng, which is sometimes
referred to as libpng12 and sometimes as libpng13. To deal with this:
In c:\MinGW\lib\pkgconfig, copy libpng12.pc -> libpng13.pc
At you can download zip files
containing the source for the following components, which add to gtk2
a drawingarea widget for displaying OpenGL graphics:
However, these components are very difficult to build, due to complex
dependencies (see below for an unsuccessful attempt). For gtkglext, go to and click on Downloads, Binaries. Download
the GtkGLExt exe installer for Windows and run the installer. It will
place the components into c:\GtkGLExt. Go there and copy the bin, include,
lib, and share folders to c:\MinGW (merge copy, as usual).
The build process for gtkglextmm also sometimes fails, on some Windows machines,
so binary files are available in the developer's section of
############### Here are instructions on how to attempt to build
############### gtkglext from source, though I didn't succeed.
For instructions on how to build gtkglext on Windows:
In the gtkglext folder, edit configure to delete the many references to pangox,
which has to do with the X11 window manager on Linux.
Unzip the zip files. To build, run MSYS, cd into a directory, and do this:
> ./configure --prefix=/c/MinGW --build=i386-pc-mingw32
> make
> make install./configure --prefix=/c/MinGW --build=i386-pc-mingw32
This fails in the configure attempts:
checking for GTK+ - version >= 2.0.0... no
conftest.exe failed because jpeg62.dll was not found.
*** Could not run GTK+ test program, checking why...
*** The test program compiled, but did not run. This usually means
*** that the run-time linker is not finding GTK+ or finding the wrong
*** version of GTK+. If it is not finding GTK+, you'll need to set your
*** LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable, or edit /etc/ to point
*** to the installed location Also, make sure you have run ldconfig if that
*** is required on your system
*** If you have an old version installed, it is best to remove it, although
*** you may also be able to get things to work by modifying LD_LIBRARY_PATH
configure: error: GTK+ 2.0 not found
The autoconfigure machinery is in msys, so do this:
Copy c:\MinGW\share\aclocal\* to c:\msys\1.0\share\aclocal-1.8
See INSTALL.txt for details on building Visual on Windows, after installing
all the underlying components described above.
cd to the CVS directory of Visual files and run ./
It failed because mingw/bin/libtoolize had an incorrect reference
prefix=c:/progra~1/LibTool instead of prefix=/usr
(which means in the MSYS context c:\msys\1.0).
I edited c:\MinGW\bin\libtoolize to specify prefix=/usr.
Note the earlier comment about getting from
"Libtool (the msys version is said to be too old)"
Perhaps I was supposed to put this in msys, not mingw.
I find that there is also a libtoolize in C:\msys\1.0\bin, with prefix=/usr.
This highlights an issue that may be important, that I've never been clear
on what goes into msys and what goes into mingw. Clearly, mingw/bin is taking
precedence over /msys/1.0/bin. With my earlier installation on XP, there
was no libtoolize in /mingw/bin, and the msys version was invoked.
Now what happens is this:
$ ./
/usr/share/aclocal/autoopts.m4:22: warning: underquoted definition of AG_PATH_AUTOOPTS
run info '(automake)Extending aclocal'
or see installing `./missing' directory should not contain `/'
Completed successfully
AG_PATH_AUTOOPTS does not appear in the Visual project but rather
in c:\msys\1.0\share\aclocal in the context of AC_DEFUN(AG_PATH_AUTOOPTS, .....
Without trying to debug this, I tried doing the make.
I created a directory named "build" parallel to the CVS directory (vpython-core2).
For convenience, I created in the build directory a conf.bat file containing this;
PYTHON=/c/Python25/python.exe CXXFLAGS="-O2 -march=i686" ./vpyton-core2/configure
cd into the build directory and execute ./conf.bat
After a successful configure, execute "make".
After a successful make, and create an installer as discussed next, it works.
You need InnoSetup ( to create an installer for end users.
The configure and make produce build/MakeVPython.iss, which you run to create
an installer. But first you need to set up a directory of dll's.
The following dll's are included in the same directory as the main application
cvisual.pyd, namely c:\Python25\Lib\site-packages\visual. Also included are
In addition, I included the files listed below in this directory. I stripped the files
to save a lot of space and put the stripped versions in c:\MinGW\stripped. The installer,
made with InnoSetup, is 8.5 MB (the non-gtkmm version was 2.5 MB). To strip the files,
cd to the stripped directory and execute "strip *", but do NOT strip iconv.dll,
libexpat.dll, or libxml2.dll. Visual fails to run if you strip these.
I determined which dll's I needed by repeatedly running the application from a command
line and one-by-one getting error messages saying I was missing a dll. And then to make
sure I'd gotten everything, I changed the name of c:\MinGW to c:\xxxMinGW and ran again,
to prevent accessing dll's from the developer directories.
freetype6.dll (This was libfreetype-6.dll with an older mingw installation)
iconv.dll (do not strip this file)
libexpat.dll (See comment above; also, do not strip this file)
libpng13.dll (This was libpng1.dll with an older mingw installation)
libxml2.dll (See comment above; also, do not strip this file)
The creation of the installer for Windows also includes these GTK2-related files:
The only Windows-specific code remaining is a substitute for gettimeofday. I see in
surfing the web that lots of people keep reinventing this routine for use on Windows.
Seems like it would make sense for it to be part of gtk for Windows.
A colleague is attempting to use the new gtkmm-to-Quartz machinery on the Mac to make
a native Mac version of VPython with a simple installation procedure, because many of
our end users find it a difficult hassle installing X11 and Xcode and fink and finally
VPython. Hopefully we'll have essentially one set of C++ code that works on all platforms.
From a typescript, the following will print all VPYTHON_NOTEs:
env VPYTHON_DEBUG=1 python
(This assumes you've executed cd /c/python25 and that as
well as python.exe is in that directory.)