Difference between revisions of "Developing On Linux"

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Revision as of 17:22, 18 June 2009

Users on Linux and Unix systems often compile Audacity from source code to experiment with the latest Beta version, or even the latest code in CVS . This page describes the requirements for the latter case, i.e. compiling and making changes to development code that has not been released.
If you need to compile Audacity because there is no suitable Audacity package for your distribution, please see Compiling Audacity Step by Step Guide.
Related article(s):
  • Also for building with Windows, see [install-directory]\win\compile.txt
  • Developing On Mac


Compiling Audacity, or any GNU/Linux program for that matter, is basically a six stage process.

  1. Install build tools: the programs needed to create other programs.
  2. Install dependencies: other software used by the program you are trying to compile
  3. Download the source code into a local directory.
  4. Configure the compile with options, if any.
  5. Compile
  6. Install

The first and second stages are crucial: lack of build tools and required dependencies are the cause of 99% of failed compiles. This page should help with that.

The standard commands to compile a piece of software for stages 4, 5 and 6 are as follows, issued from within the local directory containing the source code.

  1. CONFIGURE: $ ./configure --[options-list]
  2. COMPILE: $ make
  3. INSTALL: $ sudo make install

Build Tools

Most Linux distributions come with the core set of development tools already installed, but if not you will need to install the following packages, probably from your distribution's package manager:

  • Shell. The configure script for Audacity is generated for a bourne-compatible shell. It is very unlikely that your system does not have one of these, but if in doubt, install the Bash shell.
  • GNU Make Other Makes may work, but may well not. Make on any Linux system will be GNU make.
  • GCC (at least the C and C++ compilers) The GNU Compiler Collection  The only other compiler supported by the Audacity development team is Microsoft's Visual C++, although we welcome patches to make Audacity compile with other compilers, for example the OpenSolaris compiler.
  • pkg-config
  • Autoconf Program which writes configure scripts. Needed to modify the build system
  • Automake Program which writes Makefiles. Needed to modify the build system
  • CVS Source code version control program
  • Patch Program for applying patches to files
  • GDB The GNU Debugger (for debugging crashes)
  • gettext. In order to build the translations for Audacity the GNU gettext  tools are required. These are normally installed in order to be able to build wxWidgets (see below).


Audacity requires relatively few libraries and tools to build a minimum working program. There are then a larger number of option libraries that extend Audacity to enable more features and facilities. It's therefore up to you whether you install these or not. If you don't install them, then decide later you need the extra features, you will need to rebuild Audacity after installing the extra libraries.

Note that some Linux distributions make a practice of splitting each library they package into two parts, those required for running programs using the library, and all the other files only needed when compiling applications using the library. The latter are often found in a package with a -dev suffix to the name. For the purposes of these instructions, whenever a library is listed as being needed, it means that both parts are needed in order to compile Audacity.


These libraries are required to build Audacity.


The main requirement to build Audacity is wxWidgets . WX 2.8 is required, preferably 2.8.9 or later. Both Unicode and ANSI forms should work, although all development is against Unicode builds (the default for WX).

Audacity supports wxGTK for Linux (and other Unices), wxMac for Mac OS X (and wxMSW for Windows using either MSVC++ or Cygwin compilers). There is no support for wxMotif, wxX11 or other wx variants, as they are incomplete in key areas. If using wxGTK then the GTK+ headers will also be needed as Audacity includes extensions to wxGTK which require the underlying toolkit headers to compile.

Whilst building Audacity with a standard distribution-supplied wxGTK package will work fine, it will be difficult to debug, because there will be no debugging information for wxGTK. To obtain this debugging information you should build wxGTK from source in a separate directory, then tell the Audacity configure script to use that copy of wxGTK rather than the system one. ** Add a link to a page explaining how to do this **

We also have some notes on the libraries already supplied with different Linux Distributions. For example, Ubuntu tend to update to newer libraries sooner than Debian do.


libsndfile is required to build Audacity. It is almost certainly already installed on your system, although you may have to install the development package (see above). It is rarely necessary to compile libsndfile from source, although a copy is also included in Audacity CVS.

Optional Packages

The configure script of Audacity gives the option to link in or not to link in a number of optional packages. In a few cases there is a choice of two packages but one or the other must be used (not neither and not both).

--with-libsamplerate use libsamplerate  instead of libresample for sample rate conversion. Should not be used if binary plug-in support is also enabled for licensing reasons.
id3tag use libid3tag  for MP3 ID3 tag support
LADSPA  compile with LADSPA plug-in support [default=yes]
libflac  [local], [system], [none] - enable FLAC support [default=none]
libmad  use libmad for mp3 decoding support
libresample use libresample: [yes], [no]
libsamplerate  alternatively, use libsamplerate (instead of libresample): [local], [system], [none]
libsndfile  choose which libsndfile to use: [local], [system]
PortAudio  which version of PortAudio to use (=[v18,v19]) [stable default=v18], [Beta default=v19]    
PortMixer compile with PortMixer [default=yes]
Nyquist  compile with Nyquist support [default=yes]
SoundTouch  compile with SoundTouch [default=yes]
vorbis  enable ogg vorbis support
help make the help file "audacity-1.2-help.htb" [default=yes]

Obtaining Audacity

For development you will always want to obtain the CVS version of Audacity so you can stay abreast of the latest changes. For more information, see our CVS page . For a CVS interface on Mac to access our CVS repository, try MacCVS  (this needs an external SSH client if you want to commit code to our repository) or MacCVSClient .

A typical command to check out the current development version of Audacity from CVS would be

cvs -d:pserver:[email protected]:/cvsroot/audacity checkout audacity

If you have an old version of CVS and are prompted for a password then just press Enter as there is no password for read-only (anonymous) CVS access.

The possibilities range from whether to include them or not to whether to use local or system versions. In almost all cases these are standard libraries, and only provided in CVS for convenience, so if you have up to date versions installed as shared libraries you should select the external copies. The exceptions are libresample (which is developed as part of Audacity), Nyquist (which we have modified to integrate it with Audacity), and PortAudio (which has had to be patched to make it work).


To enable support for ogg files:


To use an external sndfile library (which you have previously built and installed):


To disable Nyquist:


Compiling on Unix

To compile Audacity on Linux (or for that matter, Mac OS X and most other Unix systems), use the standard "configure; make" sequence:


However, you may want to start by running ./configure --help first to see the options, and possibly add special options.

If you are compiling from a CVS checkout, then you can re-generate the configure script by running


in the top level directory first. If this causes trouble, with errors like:

configure: warning: CC=gcc: invalid host type
configure: warning: CXX=g++: invalid host type
configure: error: can only configure for one host and one target at a time
configure: error: /bin/sh './configure' failed for lib-src/portaudio-v19

then try prefixing the configure command with "env -i":

env -i ./configure --without-portmixer --with-portaudio=v19

This appears to be fixed for Audacity 1.2.4 and onwards.

In order to use ALSA devices with PortAudio v19 (the default for Audacity 1.3.x beta) it is necessary to have the ALSA development library installed before compiling Audacity. In Ubuntu Studio, for example, this can be installed by running:

sudo apt-get install libasound2-dev

Example dependencies: Audacity 1.3.4/Ubuntu 7.10



A suggested apt-get command to install the above dependencies:

$ sudo apt-get install gettext libasound2-dev libflac-dev libflac++-dev libgtk2.0-dev libgtk-dev libid3tag0-dev libjack0.100.0-dev libmad0-dev libogg-dev libtwolame0 libtwolame-dev libvorbis-dev libwxbase2.6-dev libwxgtk-dev libwxgtk2.6-dev twolame portaudio19-dev wx2.6-headers zlib1g-dev

A suggested ./configure command for full functionality:

$ ./configure --with-libvorbis --with-libflac --with-libid3tag --with-soundtouch