Note: These instructions are kept current for the development version of release-2.x.y branch of Pidgin. You may need to look at an older version of this page in order to build a released version of Pidgin. Alternatively, you may need the instructions for 3.0.0 branch.

Set up your build environment

Install A Bash Shell

The Pidgin build system requires a full Unix shell to run. You can install Cygwin or MSYS2 to accomplish this. However, these instructions are heavily geared towards Cygwin so MSYS steps may be different and/or missing all together.

Alternatively, you may use the third-party script Pidgin Windev, which creates the development environment automatically. This tool works for both Cygwin and MSYS2.


When installing Cygwin you will be asked which additional packages you would like to install. You need to make sure that the following packages are installed. Some of these are selected by default, but the ones in bold are not installed by default.

  • bash
  • bzip2
  • ca-certificates
  • coreutils
  • gawk
  • gnupg
  • grep
  • gzip
  • libiconv
  • make
  • patch
  • sed
  • tar
  • unzip
  • wget
  • zip


After installing MSYS2, you’ll need to make sure that you have all the base dependencies installed as well. You can do that with the following command:

$ pacman -Sy ca-certificates gawk grep make patch tar unzip wget zip


The following instructions were written under the assumption that the Pidgin source will be extracted or checked out into $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin-<version> and that you install all of Pidgin’s build dependencies under $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev (the point being that the pidgin source root and win32-dev directories should be on the same level). Similar to the example below:

├── pidgin-2.x.y
└── win32-dev

You don’t have to actually define an environment variable called PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT, it is simply used here as a placeholder.

Note You should avoid using a $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT path that contains spaces as that can cause unnecessary complications.


Most people will find that the standard build environment directory is completely adequate. It is, however, possible to override the locations of the various dependencies and target directories. This is often useful to test against a development version of a library dependency or to override compiler flags.

This is done by overriding the various Makefile variables in a local.mak file in the $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin-<version> directory. This file does not exist by default.

The variables that can be overridden with this method are defined in the libpurple/win32/global.mak file. For example, to install Pidgin over c:\Program Files\Pidgin instead of $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin/win32-install-dir, create a $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin/local.mak containing:

#Override the install location
PIDGIN_INSTALL_DIR = /cygdrive/c/Program\ Files/Pidgin
PURPLE_INSTALL_DIR = /cygdrive/c/Program\ Files/Pidgin

One nice use of the local.mak file is for cross compiling, there is an additional example in the [#cross-compiling section below].

Get the Pidgin source code

The development source is available via Mercurial in the release-2.x.y branch.

If you want to build a release tarball, the instructions in the rest of this document should work for you, however they are written for the most recent 2.x.y release so there may be issues with older versions.

Build Dependencies


Installing all of the build dependencies can be tedious, so you may want to check out Pidgin Windev which will automate it.

Install the MinGW “GCC Version 4.7.2” packages from the MinGW site by following their instructions.

Download the following:

Extract all of the above into the desired location (e.g. $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev/mingw-4.7.2)

Prepare a libssp-src.tar.gz file containing the libssp sources and licenses:

cd $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev/mingw-4.7.2
mkdir libsspsrctmp
tar -C libsspsrctmp -xf gcc-4.7.2-1-mingw32-src/gcc-4.7.2.tar.bz2 gcc-4.7.2/COPYING3 gcc-4.7.2/COPYING.RUNTIME gcc-4.7.2/libssp --strip-components=1
tar -C libsspsrctmp -czf bin/libssp-src.tar.gz .
rm -r libsspsrctmp

Finally, set the MinGW gcc’s bin directory to be before Cygwin’s in your PATH.

For example (You should add the following to your ~/.bashrc file, which is found in C:\cygwin\home\YourUsername\ by default):

export PATH=/cygdrive/c/devel/pidgin-devel/win32-dev/mingw-4.7.2/bin:$PATH



Pidgin depends on GTK 2.14.7 (newer runtime versions can be used). The GTK All-in-one bundle contains all of GTK’s dependencies in one zip file. Download and extract to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev/gtk_2_0-2.14 (you’ll need to create this directory).

Visit the GTK website for official binary and source releases.


You’ll need gettext to compile translations. Download and Extract both to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev/gettext-0.17 (you’ll need to create this directory).


Download and extract libxml2-2.9.2_daa1.tar.gz to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev.

Perl 5.20

You’ll need a functioning perl 5.20.x runtime (if the perl executable isn’t in your PATH, you will need to override the PERL variable in pidgin/local.mak to point to the appropriate perl executable). A good option is Strawberry Perl.

Download the perl- development package and extract to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev (it creates its own directory). This is a subset of the full 32-bit strawberry perl zip containing just the headers, import lib, and source for perl.

Note If using MSYS and you installed the mingw-developer-toolkit, keep in mind that it installs msys-perl-bin (Perl 5.6) which takes precedence over the newer perl in your path, and that will cause problems! The easiest solution is to set the PERL variable in your pidgin/local.mak to point to the right perl.exe.


Download and extract gtkspell-2.0.16.tar.bz2 to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev.


Download and extract to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev/.

Mozilla NSS

Download and extract nss-3.24-nspr-4.12.tar.gz under $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev.

NOTE NSS/NSPR are built from the upstream sources using these instructions.

SILC Toolkit

Download and extract silc-toolkit-1.1.12.tar.gz to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev.


Download and extract to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev.

Cyrus SASL

Download and extract cyrus-sasl-2.1.26_daa1.tar.gz to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev.


Download and extract to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev/intltool_0.40.4-1_win32.

Crash Reporting Library

Download and extract pidgin-inst-deps-20130214.tar.gz to $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/win32-dev.


Building Pidgin

The Windows build will take a while, but you can start it with the following command:

cd $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin-<version>
make -f Makefile.mingw install

Now just wait and let your compiler do its thing. When finished, Pidgin will be in $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin-<version>/win32-install-dir.

Building the Installer

If you would like to build the Pidgin installer, you’ll need to setup NSIS. Once you have installed NSIS, please make sure that it is in your shell’s PATH. Note if you’re building with msys2 do not use the version available in pacman. There are multiple issues with it including that executables produced by it will not be able to run if Mandatory ASLR is enabled.

Next you’ll need to download a few plugins and put them into the Plugins/x86-unicode folder of your NSIS install.

Finally, you’ll need to decide if you would like to sign the executables though this is not necessary for personal use.

To sign the executables, you need to get an appropriate code signing certificate and then install osslsigncode. If you’re using msys2 this can be installed with pacman -S mingw-w64-i686-osslsigncode. In your local.mak file (see customizing above), define the OSSLSIGNCODE variable to the fully qualified path to the signcode executable. You’ll also need to assign the SIGNCODE_SPC and SIGNCODE_PVK variables to the appropriate files in your certificate. If you just have a pfx file, you’ll need to extract the certificate and key to the spc and pvk files. You can find documentation to do so here.

Also, you’ll need a PGP key to add pgp signatures to the files. GnuPG is the primary PGP client most people use. You can read more here.

Once you have everything setup your local.mak should look something like the following:

#Set up gpg to use a separate keyring
GPG_SIGN=gpg --no-default-keyring --secret-keyring /path/to/secring.gpg

If you aren’t going to be signing anything, your local.mak should look like the following:

#Disable Signing
OSSLSIGNCODE=echo ***Bypassing signcode***
GPG_SIGN=echo ***Bypassing gpg***

At this point, you can finally build the installer. However, there are actually two different installers; an “Offline” installer that includes all dependencies (except spellchecking dictionaries) and the debug symbols and an “Online” installer that includes only Pidgin itself and will download the various dependencies if necessary.

The Makefile.mingw targets for these are installer_offline and installer respectively. You can build both with the installers target.

cd $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin-<version>
make -f Makefile.mingw installers

When it finishes, your installer(s) should be in $PIDGIN_DEV_ROOT/pidgin-<version>/ directory.


There is a quite good Just In Time debugger for MinGW named drmingw. You can download it from their releases.

There is also a version of gdb available from MinGW, if you prefer.

Cross Compiling

It is quite easy to cross compile Pidgin for Windows on a Linux machine.

To begin, you’ll need to install MinGW. On Debian/Ubuntu, this involves installing packages mingw32, mingw32-binutils, and mingw32-runtime. On other distributions, the packages may be named differently.

Set up a build environment as described above. You should already have a bash shell and have just installed the mingw compiler.

Create a local.mak file in the source directory root to override the Makefile variables, something like the following:

SHELL := /bin/bash
CC := /usr/bin/i586-mingw32msvc-cc
GMSGFMT := msgfmt
MAKENSIS := /usr/bin/makensis
WINDRES := /usr/bin/i586-mingw32msvc-windres
STRIP := /usr/bin/i586-mingw32msvc-strip
INTLTOOL_MERGE := /usr/bin/intltool-merge

INCLUDE_PATHS := -I$(PIDGIN_TREE_TOP)/../win32-dev/w32api/include
LIB_PATHS := -L$(PIDGIN_TREE_TOP)/../win32-dev/w32api/lib

If your distribution doesn’t include a recent enough win32api, you can download it from the MinGW site, extract it into your win32-dev directory, and override the INCLUDE_PATHS and LIB_PATHS variables in your local.mak as shown above.

NSIS version 2.46 or greater is required to cross-compile. If compiling NSIS from source, the scons package is a dependency. This can usually be installed through your linux distribution’s package archive. An example of how to install the NSIS package is given below (Assuming use of the NSIS 2.46 version).

mkdir nsis; cd nsis
tar -jxvf nsis-2.46-src.tar.bz2
cd nsis-2.46
sudo scons install-compiler
cd ..
sudo unzip nsis-2.46 -d /usr/local/share
sudo mv /usr/local/share/nsis-2.46/ /usr/local/share/nsis

Once this is done, you’ll need to update local.mak to point to the new NSIS location:

MAKENSIS := /usr/local/bin/makensis

Finally, you should be able to follow the build instructions above.

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