Building Scribus on Windows

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There may be enough present now for you to begin, if you have some idea what you're doing.

Please read also BUILDING_win32.txt in the source tree! It's the most up to date source of information on building Scribus on Microsoft Windows.

There is a good chance you don't want to do this, given its complexity. Since this nonetheless is a recurring question, this page will attempt to give some guidance and explanation of the process. 1.3.5 is easier than 1.3.3.x; see the „current status“ below.


On a personal level:

  • Perseverance
  • A high tolerance of failure -- your initial attempts a compiling are almost certain to fail, so you will need to gradually figure out whether there are missing pieces or what needs to be modified in the source for the Windows environment.

Aside from the Scribus source, there are components that you will need on your Windows system in order to begin to tackle this project.

  • A compiler
  • GDI+ support

from the Scribus Archives (Jean Ghali):

Personally I use Visual C++ Express Edition for compiling 1.3.5svn and have no experience with MingW and Msys. However, here are some elements of an answer. On Windows, Scribus uses GDI+ for printing to GDI printers, mainly for transparency support. As far as I know, MinGW has currently no support for GDI+ library, so compiling with GDI+ support is a bit compromised... There is always some code which uses pure GDI calls, but that code is currently unmaintained and honestly I don't know if it still works.

In all cases, the main task would be to adapt the build environment. Since 1.3.5svn, we have dropped autotools support and switched to CMake. On Windows, CMake can produce visual studio solutions as well as MinGW make files. However there are still some linuxisms in our cmake files which prevent to do so. So one should first remove them. If one would do the work, the team would be happy to integrate the result in svn.

As of July, 2012, MinGW appears now to have support for GDI+, see the "gdiplus" folder in a distribution: c/MinGW/include/gdiplus.

Hot News! (from October 2007)

From Scribus List

Hi folks

There have been repeated questions here about how to build Scribus for Windows, and we've never been able to give a particularly satisfactory answer because it's involved a non-public version of Qt, some hand-built Visual Studio projects and a bit of fiddling.

Thanks to Jean Ghali's great work on the win32 port, TrollTech's recent decision to support Qt/Win Open Source with Visual Studio, and some recent enhancements to the CMake build system used in Scribus, it's now much easier to build Scribus for Windows. You can do a build using only the main svn trunk source distribution and unmodified library sources. Cairo is still rather tricky, but Arthur works out of the box and with a canned Cairo library cairo is similarly simple to use with Scribus.

This support is only in svn trunk. It will never be backported to 1.3.3.x or 1.3.4 because these versions do not use Qt 4 and there is no stable public version of Qt 3 for Windows. As such, it's not much good for building a copy of Scribus that you'll want to use for real work just yet. On the other hand, if you want to get into Scribus development and contribute but you're only used to working on Windows with Visual Studio or your interest is in improving win32 specific functionality, it might be an opportunity to get involved.

To get started, you'll need to check out scribus svn trunk (see and read BUILDING_win32.txt . These instructions are ... rough ... but should cover the basics if you're used to working on Windows. They will be improved.

If you decide to give it a go and have problems, consider dropping in on IRC or asking for help here. Just remember to include FULL ERROR MESSAGES, commands run, Visual Studio version, etc if you do ask for help.

-- Craig Ringer

Current status for each version

Scribus 1.3.3.x

  • Compiling Scribus 1.3.3.x on Windows is not an easy task indeed.
  • Unfortunately there is no easy bundle which includes compiler and all libraries since some of those are privative software. The compiler, Microsoft Visual Studio .Net, and the Qt3 library are all commercial sofware on Windows. (There is a deal with Trolltech for using qt3). Also such bundle would weight several gigabytes.
  • It should be noted that compiling 1.3.3.x on Windows is only possible using Visual Studio as MinGW misses headers for some of required win32 libs.
  • It should be also noted that compiling 1.3.3.x won't work with Visual Studio 2005/2008 because of runtime checks introduced in those versions which break some of the 1.3.3.x undo/redo code.
  • 1.3.3.x is currently not much maintained; it is recommended to use 1.3.5 instead.

As of January 2009.

Scribus 1.3.5

  • Compiling 1.3.5svn on Windows is somewhat easier (than 1.3.3.x) as all needed components are available on Windows at no cost, noticeably qt4 and Visual C++ express editions.
  • Msvc projects for msvc 2005 have also been commited to trunk and are kept up to date.
  • Instructions for building with CMake + Visual Studio are also provided in trunk.

As of January 2009.


This is from revision 10823, from October 2007 -- you can find the latest version of the instructions in file BUILDING_win32.txt in the Scribus source tree



Building Scribus on win32 with cmake is still rather poorly tested.
It's getting there, but for now the Visual Studio project based builds
maintained by Jean Ghali are much more stable.

Known issues with this build:

	- It's hard to ensure that debug libs are used for debug builds
	  and release libs for release builds, as not all CMake scripts
	  do this sensibly.

	- The scripter isn't building yet.

	- The sxwim plugin isn't building yet.


This documentation is minimal, and will be replaced by more detailed
information once the CMake-based win32 builds are better tested.

You will need:
	- Microsoft Windows XP (others may work but are untested)
	- Microsoft Visual Studio Express Edition 8 2005
	- The Microsoft Platform SDK
	- CMake 2.5.x (2.4.x WILL NOT WORK)
	- A recent Qt 4.3 snapshot built with Visual Studio 8 2005 (see below)
	- libxml2 win32 binaries from the libxml project
	- libjpeg sources from
	- libtiff sources from
	- libpng sources from
	- zlib sources from
	- freetype sources from
	- LittleCMS sources from
	- PoDoFo 0.5.0 (and ONLY 0.5.0) sources from
	- A Python 2.5 Windows binary build.
          For debug builds, you'll need a release that contains the python25_d.dll .

Some more details can be found below in the section entitled GETTING DEPENDENCIES.

To build scribus its self, you should create a new empty build directory
outside the Scribus source tree. In this directory, create a new text file and
name it "build.cmd". Ignore the warning about changing the file extension.

Open build.cmd in a text editor, and paste the following into it:

rem Dependency paths:
set CMAKE=C:\Program Files\CMake 2.5\bin\cmake.exe
rem used for headers only; we get the lib from the libpng build
set ZLIBDIR=c:\developer\lib\zlib
rem provides both png and zlib .libs
set PNGDIR=C:\developer\lib\lpng1220-vc\
set QTDIR=C:\developer\Qt\qt-win-opensource-src-4.3.2-snapshot-20070929
set LCMSDIR=c:\developer\lib\lcms-1.16-vc
set JPEGDIR=c:\developer\lib\jpeg-6b-vc
set FREETYPEDIR=c:\developer\lib\freetype-2.3.5
set TIFFDIR=c:\developer\lib\tiff-3.8.2-vc
set PODOFODIR=c:\developer\podofo\050-vs-inst
set LIBXMLDIR=c:\developer\lib\libxml2-2.6.30.win32
set SCRIBUSINSTALLDIR=c:\developer\scribus-bin
set LIB=
set SCPNGPROJ=%PNGDIR%\projects\visualc71\
del cmakecache.txt
"%CMAKE%" -G "Visual Studio 8 2005" 





Note: Above are some very long lines that you will want to copy from your own BUILDING_win32.txt file, not from here on the Wiki.

The above script is designed to work with common arrangements of library
install directories, both build trees and installed copies. If you follow the
instructions here about setting up the libraries scribus requires, you should

Update the dependency paths to match your system.  Now open a cmd.exe window,
cd into the build directory, and run build.cmd . If all goes well, it'll find
your libraries and exit successfully.
(Note: Some systems could have some environment related problems running this
from simple cmd.exe. Use SDK console instead then.)

Open the solution that CMake generated in Visual Studio and build it. On
Windows it's easier to do a release build as you don't need to build a debug
Qt, python, etc. 

If it all builds, manually build the INSTALL project to trigger an install. Now
copy the DLLs from the zlib, libpng, qt, lcms, freetype, libtiff, libjpeg,
libxml, and podofo directories into the Scribus install directory (where
scribus.exe is). It should now run.

Crash problems at runtime? Verify that Qt, freetype, lcms, and Scribus all use
the same runtime, and that all were built for debugging or all for release not
a mixture of the two. Windows does not permit you to mix debug and release
executables like other platforms do.

You can use depends.exe to check that the runtimes match.


This is a quick and dirty set of notes that will be filled out once everything's
verified as correct and working. It asssumes that you'll be building all your
dependencies at a single root, like C:\Developer. The root *MUST* not have spaces
in its path.


Download the latest qt 4.3 snapshot for windows and unpack it to C:\Developer .
Don't get the "all" snapshot, it lacks configure.exe  and can't easily be built
on Windows.

Start a command line and import your Visual Studio environment:

now cd to C:\Developer\Qt-win-whatever and run configure:
configure -debug-and-release -fast -no-qt3support -platform win32-msvc2005

and nmake.


Zlib and LibPNG are both embedded in the QtCore library with symbols exported
for public use . If you're using a Qt binary redist you may still need to
download these libraries sources for their headers. In most cases your
copy of Qt will contain a directory called  %QTDIR%\src\3rdparty\zlib
(and one for libpng), in which case you need not worry about these libraries at



While Qt also bundles libjpeg, it's not linked to the main DLL but rather a plugin.
As such, we need to link to it directly.

Get jpeg sources from . Unpack to your libraries directory.
Now, in a command prompt:

copy Makefile
copy jconfig.h

(you might have to use vcvars.bat from vc and setvars.bat from the platform sdk)



Get lcms sources.
Build using VC project in Projects dir. Build the DLL ("lcmsdll"
project) in debug and release configurations.

Now modify lcms.h and remove:

#define unlink _unlink

You must modify lcms.h to prevent it from defining `cdecl'. [TODO: other
changes] [ TODO: line numbers / patch ]. This is only required to use the
header with Scribus; it's Ok to use a library built without these changes.



While Qt also bundles libtiff, it's not linked to the main DLL but rather a plugin.
As such, we need to link to it directly.

Download libtiff sources from and unpack them.

in a vcvars/setenv window:

set INCLUDE=%INCLUDE%;\path\to\jpeg\include;\path\to\zlib\include
set LIB=%LIB%;\path\to\jpeg\lib;\path\to\zlib\lib

cd %LIBTIFFDIR%\libtiff
nmake /nologo /f libtiff.lib

Since we're building libtiff as a static library, there's no need to worry
about which runtime it's linked to. You can build the DLL if you like
(you need to specify LIBS= to include Qt [for zlib] and libjpeg) but
the static library should be fine.



unpack freetype
open builds\win32\visualc
build "Release Multithreaded" and "Debug Multithreaded"

Note that if you're not using Freetype 2.3.5 exactly, you will have
to change the freetype library names passed in the build.cmd script.



download win32 binaries from, unpack.
Note that these binaries do not use the same runtime
as the rest of the binaries we're building. Feel free to
rebuild libxml to fix this, but in practice it doesn't
matter since we never pass a FILE* nor do we allocate memory
to be deallocated in libxml or vice versa.

Remember that iconv from the same package must be on the
header search path too. If in doubt, just drop iconv.h
into the libxml tree.