MinGW/MSYS development environment
Part 1: Setting up the base system
. Index .. Base system .. Local packages .. GTK+ .. Qt .. Tools .. Projects .. Home .

The base system consist of the GCC compiler, the MinGW-w64 runtime, and MSYS utilities.

The compiler and the runtime are provided by packages from the MinGW-builds project. MSYS provides a UNIX-like shell environment.


Installing the MinGW Installation Manager

We begin by installing the MinGW Installation Manager. This program will allows us to install MinGW and MSYS packages. The MSYS packages provide the shell and the necessary command line tools, but we will not use the Installation Manager to install the MinGW compiler suite.

Download the MingGW Installation Manager setup:

Run the installer as Administrator. Click the Install button to accept the license and continue.

Specify the installation directory, the default C:\MinGW is usually approriate. If you use a custom installation directory, make sure the path does NOT contain any spaces. Review the other options and click the Continue button to begin the installation.

Wait until the installation has finished and click the Continue button.

Installing MSYS packages

We use the MinGW Installation Manager to install the MSYS packages.

Select Basic Setup on the left side of the screen. Mark the following packages to install:

Make sure no other packages are marked: later on, we will install the compiler and runtime libraries from the mingw-w64 project instead of the default mingw32 one. The mingw-w64 compiler, despite its name, can be used to build both 32-bit and 64-bit binaries.

Open the Installation menu and click Apply Changes.

Click the Apply button.

Patiently wait for the installation to complete.

Click the Close button upon completion.

Install a number of additional packages, select All Packages on the left of the screen and mark the following packages for installation:

Each package appeares multiple times. Select the one from the bin class.

Install the packages with the same procedure: open the Installation menu and click Apply Changes, click the Apply button, press the Close button upon completion.

Creating a desktop shortcut

Next, we create a new shortcut to launch the MSYS shell. Click on the desktop with the right mouse button, select New -> Shortcut.

Set the location to C:\MinGW\msys\1.0\msys.bat, and call it MSYS Shell.

Right-click on the new shortcut and open its properties. Edit it so it looks like this: Press the OK button.

Launch the MSYS Shell by double-clicking the shortcut.

You can paste clipboard text to the RXVT terminal with the shift+insert key combination, hence can copy the commands from this guide and paste them into the terminal window. If you use the mouse to select text in the RXVT window, it will be automatically copied to the clipboard as well.

For configuration notes on rxvt, see http://www.mingw.org/wiki/configure_rxvt

Installing MinGW-w64

MinGW is a port of the GCC compiler to the win32 platform. MinGW-W64 adds 64-bit support and an improved windows runtime. All related files can be found on the Sourceforge download page.

Before installing the compiler, a little bit of cleanup has to be done: the MinGW Installation Manager has put a number of packages into C:\MinGW\mingw32, rename it to C:\MinGW\mingw32.dist.

mv /c/MinGW/mingw32 /c/MinGW/mingw32.dist

Download the i686 package:

If you want to build 64-bit applications, you'll also need the x86_64 package:

Unzip the compiler packages into the C:\MinGW directory, you can use the 7-zip utility, or any archiver that understands the 7z format. You should end up with two new subdirectories: C:\MinGW\mingw32 and C:\MinGW\mingw64.

These packages support the win32 threading model and do not support C11 threading. Building GTK fails using the POSIX threading packages.


Post-installation configuration

MSYS emulates a UNIX file system hierarchy. By default, the MSYS directory C:\MinGW\msys\1.0 will be mounted as root directory / and as /usr. Traditional windows drives like D: and E: can be accessed as /d or /e. Use the mount command to get an overview:

$ mount
C:\Users\Ingar\AppData\Local\Temp on /tmp type user (binmode,noumount)
C:\MinGW\msys\1.0 on /usr type user (binmode,noumount)
C:\MinGW\msys\1.0 on / type user (binmode,noumount)
c: on /c type user (binmode,noumount)
d: on /d type user (binmode,noumount)

We will add a number of extra directories to be mounted whenever a new shell is started: /opt, where we will install a few extra packages, /sources, where downloads will be saved, /build32 where we will download the sourcode and compile packages, and /local32, where we will install our own compiled packages. These directories can be anywhere, but to keep the setup simple and consistent we will create C:\MinGW\opt, C:\MinGW\build32 and C:\MinGW\local32 and mount them as /opt, /build32 and /local32.

Additionally, we create a 64-bit variant for each of the 32-bit directories. Note that the /sources directory is the same for both environments, this prevents having to download source packages twice.

Create the necessary directories:

mkdir /c/mingw/{opt,build32,local32,build64,local64,sources}

Mount the installation directory of the custom compiler package in a convenient location:

mount 'C:\MinGW\mingw32\' /mingw32
mount 'C:\MinGW\mingw64\' /mingw64

Mount the other directories:

umount /mingw
mount 'C:\MinGW' /mingw
mount 'C:\MinGW\opt\' /opt
mount 'C:\MinGW\local32\' /local32
mount 'C:\MinGW\build32\' /build32
mount 'C:\MinGW\local64\' /local64
mount 'C:\MinGW\build64\' /build64
mount 'C:\MinGW\sources\' /sources

Create necessary subdirectories in /local32, /local64 and /opt:

mkdir /opt/bin /local{32,64}/{bin,etc,include,lib,share}
mkdir /local{32,64}/lib/pkgconfig

Create /local32/etc/profile.local:

cat > /local32/etc/profile.local << "EOF"
# /local32/etc/profile.local

alias dir='ls -la --color=auto'
alias ls='ls --color=auto'

CFLAGS="-I/local32/include -mms-bitfields -mthreads -mtune=pentium3"
CXXFLAGS="-I/local32/include -mms-bitfields -mthreads -mtune=pentium3"
LDFLAGS="-L/local32/lib -mthreads"

PS1='\[\033[32m\]\u@\h \[\033[33m\w\033[0m\]$ '
export PATH PS1

# directory where sources will be downloaded
# package build directory
# package installation prefix


Create /local64/etc/profile.local:

cat > /local64/etc/profile.local << "EOF"
# /local64/etc/profile.local

alias dir='ls -la --color=auto'
alias ls='ls --color=auto'

CFLAGS="-I/local64/include -mms-bitfields -mthreads"
CXXFLAGS="-I/local64/include -mms-bitfields -mthreads"

PS1='\[\033[31m\]\u@\h \[\033[33m\w\033[0m\]$ '
export PATH PS1

# directory where sources will be downloaded
# package build directory
# package installation prefix


Make sure it is executed on login:

cat >> /etc/profile << "EOF"
if [ -f /local32/etc/profile.local ]; then
        source /local32/etc/profile.local


Apply the new settings:

source /local32/etc/profile.local

Note that the default environment is 32-bit. You can switch to the 64-bit environment with the following command:

source /local64/etc/profile.local
Configuring vim

(Skip this section if you don't want to use the VIM editor)

Create a configuration file for VIM:

cat > ~/.vimrc << "EOF"
" Configuration file for VIM
set nocompatible
set bs=2                " allow backspacing over everything in insert mode
set ai                  " set autoindenting on
" set backup            " keep a backup file
set nobackup            " do not keep a backup file
set history=1024	    " keep 1024 lines of command line history
set ruler               " show the cursor position all the time
set tabstop=8           " tab at 8 characters
set shiftwidth=8        " 8 characters indentation
set nowrap              " do not wrap long lines
set visualbell          " no bell
set background=light    " msys rxvt has a light background
"set background=dark    " mingw shell uses a black background
syntax on               " syntax highlighting on

Set vim as default editor in the 32-bit environment:

cat >> /local32/etc/profile.local << "EOF"
export EDITOR

In the 64-bit environment:

cat >> /local64/etc/profile.local << "EOF"
export EDITOR
Installing additional packages in /opt

We install a few third-party tools in /opt to prevent them from interfering with the default packages. You do not need to install both the 32-bit and 64-bit version of these tools.


Install 7zip, copy 7z.exe to /opt/bin.


Download Git for Windows portable, and copy the content of the mingw32 (for the 32-bit version) or the mingw64 (for the 64-bit version) to /opt.


Download and install the win32 subversion client using the following commands:

wget -c "http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/win32svn/1.8.16/apache22/svn-win32-1.8.16.zip" && \
unzip ${LOCALSOURCEDIR}/svn-win32-1.8.16.zip && \
cp -va svn-win32-1.8.16/* /opt && \
mkdir -p /opt/doc/svn-win32-1.8.16 && \
mv /opt/README.txt /opt/doc/svn-win32-1.8.16


Download and install the win32 cmake client (32-bit) using the following commands:

wget -c --no-check-certificate "https://cmake.org/files/v3.6/cmake-3.6.0-win32-x86.zip" && \
unzip ${LOCALSOURCEDIR}/cmake-3.6.0-win32-x86.zip && \
cp -va cmake-3.6.0-win32-x86/* /opt

Download and install the win64 cmake client (64-bit) using the following commands:

wget -c --no-check-certificate "https://cmake.org/files/v3.6/cmake-3.6.0-win64-x64.zip" && \
unzip ${LOCALSOURCEDIR}/cmake-3.6.0-win64-x64.zip && \
cp -va cmake-3.6.0-win64-x64/* /opt
Installing Python 3

Python is a programming language that lets you work more quickly and integrate your systems more effectively.

Building Python on mingw is not supported. We install the official release instead.

Install Python 3 using the following procedure:


Building packages

The following sections of this guide describe how to build various local packages. If you do not want to build them yourself, you can download my build:

32-bit local packages, without Gtk+.
64-bit local packages, without Gtk+.
32-bit local packages, including Gtk+.
64-bit local packages, including Gtk+.

These packages should be extracted into the main installation directory C:\MinGW, you should end up with C:\MinGW\mingw32 and/or C:\MinGW\mingw64.

Remember you can always switch between environments by reading the apporiate profile:

To switch to the 32-bit build environment:

source /local32/etc/profile.local

To switch to the 64-bit build environment:

source /local64/etc/profile.local