Development Environment Setup

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This page will describe how to set a dev env for several OSes. The android build is described on a dedicated page.

Third-Party Libraries and Tools

  • OpenMW additionally uses the following tools:
    • CMake - used to manage the build process
    • Git - used as the source control management system

For those unfamiliar with Git, the Sphere RPG Engine group has a fairly useful short wiki page entitled "Git for the lazy". Make sure to also check out the GitLab FAQ.

General notes on dependencies

MyGUI

By default, MyGUI will build with the Ogre3D platform enabled, but Ogre3D is not a hard dependency. If you do not want to have Ogre installed, then configure MyGUI with the dummy platform, and disable tools & demos:

cmake .. -DMYGUI_RENDERSYSTEM=1 -DMYGUI_BUILD_DEMOS=OFF -DMYGUI_BUILD_TOOLS=OFF -DMYGUI_BUILD_PLUGINS=OFF

As of 0.49.0, the minimum MyGUI version requirement has been bumped to 3.4.3 and linking MyGUI requires it to have been built with MYGUI_DONT_USE_OBSOLETE=ON.

OpenSceneGraph

It is recommended to use the OpenMW/osg fork of OpenSceneGraph. OpenMW still works with "vanilla" OpenSceneGraph, but may run at slightly lower frame rate.

Keep in mind the official OpenSceneGraph 3.6.3 release has a critical regression which causes major instabilities in OpenMW. It appears that 3.6.4 release may have severe issues as well. Even if you don't want to use our fork, make sure to use a build linked against 3.6.5 or newer.

OSG plugins

OSG comes with numerous plugins, most of which are not required by OpenMW. If you install OSG from a package manager, then you will have tons of bloat on your system that OpenMW does not need (another reason to build your own).

Only the following plugins are required for OpenMW to function properly:

Texture formats:

  • osgdb_dds
  • osgdb_tga
  • osgdb_bmp
  • osgdb_jpeg
  • osgdb_png

TrueType fonts support (used for profiler):

  • osgdb_freetype

.osg format support:

  • osgdb_osg
  • osgdb_serializers_osg

.dae (Collada) format support:

  • osgdb_dae

Notes: - the jpeg/png plugins will not be built unless you have 'libpng' and 'libjpeg' headers installed on your system. - the Collada (dae) plugin requires libcollada library/headers installed on your system.


If you are creating a release package, the library files for the plugins need to go in <library path>/osgPlugins-<OSG_VERSION>.

When using the OSG git master (to be 3.6), or the OpenMW OSG fork, you can use the following cmake arguments to avoid unneeded plugins from being built:

-DBUILD_OSG_PLUGINS_BY_DEFAULT=0 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_OSG=1 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_DAE=1 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_DDS=1 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_TGA=1 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_BMP=1 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_JPEG=1 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_PNG=1 -DBUILD_OSG_PLUGIN_FREETYPE=1 -DBUILD_OSG_DEPRECATED_SERIALIZERS=0

S3TC texture compression support

OpenMW requires S3TC texture compression support. If you are using a proprietary video driver, you will usually have S3TC support out of the box. With open-source drivers on Linux, you may need to install S3TC support separately. An indicator for missing S3TC support are completely white or pink textures.

On Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install libtxc-dxtn-s2tc0

Windows

MSVC 2019-2022

While it's theoretically possible to do everything manually, very, very few people have succeeded, usually due to nonsensical linker errors. Instead, it's recommended that you use our prebuild script. It's what our team members do.

Make sure you're aware of different Build Configurations before being surprised that a Debug build is slower than an official release.

OpenMW currently supports MSVC via three build systems, namely Visual Studio Solutions, NMake Makefiles, and Ninja build files.

  • Solution files have the best integration into Visual Studio.
  • NMake doesn't support parallel builds, so are pointlessly slow if you've got more than one core, and have no particular other benefits. It doesn't support multiple build configurations, so uses much more disk space if you use several.
  • Ninja is theoretically faster than MSBuild/DevEnv (which build solution files) but has less reliable integration with Visual Studio. It only supports multiple build configurations with CMake 3.17 and later.

The tools to build VS Solutions and NMake Makefiles are provided as part of both Visual Studio and the MSVC command-line build tools, but you'll need to install Ninja separately (cinst ninja if you have Chocolatey).

What you need

  • Visual Studio 2019 or 2022 (Community edition is enough) or the command-line build tools for Visual Studio (cinst visualstudio2022buildtools or cinst visualstudio2019buildtools if you use Chocolatey).
    • Make sure you've got the C++ toolset installed, which isn't necessarily selected by default.
      • This can be chosen during or after installation from the Visual Studio Installer, where it's called Desktop development with C++ in the workloads tab. If you do add this to an existing installation, the Visual Studio Installer is available in the Start menu, and you'll want to choose to modify the existing installation.
  • Ninja if you're using Ninja (cinst ninja if you have Chocolatey).
  • VSWhere in your path if you're using Ninja or NMake.
    • cinst vswhere works if you have Chocolatey, but make sure you reload your shell or otherwise refresh your environment variables afterwards.
    • It also comes with Visual Studio and the command-line build tools, but isn't on the path by default, and isn't in a reliable location. Feel free to add that version to the path for the shell session you use instead of installing it again.
  • Git for Windows (cinst git.install if you have Chocolatey).
    • Other Git implementations will be sufficient to clone the OpenMW repo, but Git for Windows also provides the Bash shell used to run the script. You might be able to use a full MSYS2 installation, as it should be the same, just configured slightly differently.
      • Note that WSL does not work for this as the script needs to execute windows executables.
      • Note that a full Cygwin install does not work for this as it tries to emulate Unix file permissions, and the script was not written with this in mind.
  • 7-zip in your path
    • cinst 7zip.install works if you have Chocolatey, but make sure you reload your shell or otherwise refresh your environment variables afterwards.
    • If you don't use Chocolatey, install 7zip like any other application, then use the instructions in this guide to add it to your path.
  • CMake in your path
    • cinst cmake.install --installargs 'ADD_CMAKE_TO_PATH=User' for Chocolatey, but make sure you reload your shell or otherwise refresh your environment variables afterwards. If you'd rather CMake was in the path for all users instead of just the current one, swap ADD_CMAKE_TO_PATH=User for ADD_CMAKE_TO_PATH=System.
    • If you don't use Chocolatey, install CMake like any other application, making sure to choose Add CMake to the system PATH for all users or Add CMake to the system PATH for the current user when offered.
  • Python in your path
    • cinst python works if you have Chocolatey, but make sure you reload your shell or otherwise refresh your environment variables afterwards.
    • If you don't use Chocolatey, you can install Python like any other application, making sure to check the Add Python <version> to PATH box in the installer.
    • Python from the Windows store is probably fine too, but no one's ever tested it.
    • If your Windows install is up-to-date, you might find you've already got python.exe in your path without manually installing it. This isn't an actual Python interpreter, and just opens the Windows Store page for Python if you run it, or crashes with a permissions error. Fake Python is not sufficient to run the prebuild script.
  • You shouldn't be using Windows 7 any more anyway, but there are potential issues with its default version of PowerShell. You won't get helped if this causes problems.
  • ~10GB of free space per build platform (32/64-bit, different build tools etc.) for all the dependencies and build artefacts.
  • Time. A slowish machine will take about an hour, but obviously a faster one will take much less. If you're not using NMake, this should scale well with the number of cores available.

What you do

  • Decide if you're using Solution files, Ninja, or NMake. Solution files are recommended if you're unsure.
  • Pick a directory to do this in.
    • Its path cannot contain spaces. (We can't change this until Qt can be installed with a path containing spaces.)
    • Its path should either be short (e.g. C:\OpenMW-dev\) or you should enable long file paths in your registry (for example by following this guide).
  • Clone the OpenMW repo. git clone https://gitlab.com/OpenMW/openmw/ (or your own fork of it).
  • Open a Git Bash shell in the repo.
    • Remember that other Bash implementations such as WSL or Cygwin won't work.
  • Run the following command: CI/before_script.msvc.sh -k -p Win64 -v 2022.
    • If you're using Ninja, add -N to the command.
    • If you're using NMake, add -n to the command.
    • Substitute Win64 with Win32 if doing a 32-bit build. This is no longer supported, but you might be able to bodge it if you build deps yourself.
    • 2022 can also be substituted with 2019 for MSVC/VS 2019
    • For Solution files and Ninja with recent versions of CMake this will set up and install runtime resources for all build configurations, so all will be buildable and will run. For NMake (or Ninja if your CMake version is below 3.17) it will only set up the Debug configuration. The differences between the configurations are discussed here
      • To set up Release, add -c Release to the command.
      • To set up RelWithDebInfo, add -c RelWithDebInfo to the command.
      • If we ever change the default, adding -c Debug will set up the Debug configuration.
      • For NMake (or Ninja if your CMake version is below 3.17) you can still set up multiple configurations at once by specifying several on the command line, but this will use significantly more disk space.
    • If you want debug symbols for dependency libraries (e.g. if you want to investigate a bug in one of them), add -P. Alternatively, you can tell your debugger to use https://openmw-sym.rgw.ctrl-c.liu.se as a symbol server, and they'll be fetched on demand.
    • If you want to build the unit tests, add -t.
    • Other, more niche, options exist, and are documented in the script's help text, available by running CI/before_script.msvc.sh -h
  • Wait for the build environment to be set up.
  • For Solution files:
    • Go to the build folder that was just created (MSVC2022_64 if you've used VS 2022 and specified 64-bit) and open OpenMW.sln.
    • Make sure the Configuration dropdown at the top of Visual Studio is set to the one you want to use.
    • If you want to use Visual Studio's debugger, make sure you've set a startup project in the Solution Explorer by right clicking one and choosing Set as Startup Project. (The default startup project is ALL_BUILD which doesn't have an executable as it's a meta project used to build all other OpenMW projects at once, so cannot be started.)
    • Press F5 to build the current startup project and launch it with the debugger, or Ctrl+Shift+B to build all projects.
  • For Ninja:
    • cd into the build folder that was just created (MSVC2022_64_Ninja if you've used MSVC 2022, specified 64-bit and are using a recent CMake version) either in the Bash shell you just used, or another of your choosing.
    • Activate the correct MSVC environment in the current shell. Helper scripts are provided to make it easy to match the build you just configured:
      • For Bash, use source activate_msvc.sh.
      • For PowerShell, use .\ActivateMSVC.ps1.
      • For CMD, use ActivateMSVC.bat.
    • Run ninja to build all targets, or add target names to build specific targets, e.g. ninja openmw-cs.
    • With CMake older than 3.17.0, different build configurations need to be built by calling ninja in different folders. With newer CMake versions, they're all available in the same folder and you can build a specific configuration by adding -f build-<configuration>.ninja to the command, e.g. ninja -f build-RelWithDebInfo.ninja openmw-cs to build just the CS in the RelWithDebInfo configuration.
  • For NMake:
    • cd into the build folder that was just created (MSVC2022_64_NMake_Debug if you've used MSVC 2022, specified 64-bit either specified the Debug configuration or left it with the default) either in the Bash shell you just used, or another of your choosing.
    • Activate the correct MSVC environment in the current shell. Helper scripts are provided to make it easy to match the build you just configured:
      • For Bash, use source activate_msvc.sh.
      • For PowerShell, use .\ActivateMSVC.ps1.
      • For CMD, use ActivateMSVC.bat.
    • Run nmake to build all targets, or add target names to build specific targets, e.g. nmake openmw-cs.

If this doesn't work

First, double check that you've followed the instructions properly. Some common problems are in bold. If you still have issues, make sure to report them somewhere official, such as the OpenMW forums, as otherwise we won't know anything needs fixing.

Updating dependencies

Once in a while, the versions of dependencies listed in the script will be updated. For some of these, they can be updated just by running the script again. However, for some others, the process has not been automated yet. The rough steps to do so manually are as follows:

  • If you don't have any particular reason to keep the existing build directory (the MSVC<year><_64?><build system><configuration> directory), simply delete it and use the script to regenerate it. You will get a new build environment using updated dependencies.
  • If you need to keep the build directory, the process is more involved:
    • Delete the directory the dependency was extracted to (build directory/deps/<dependency name>)
    • Remove any lines mentioning the dependency from build directory/CMakeCache.txt
    • Run the script again.

Build Configurations

  • Debug builds are slow, but the easiest to use with a debugger.
  • Release builds are fast, but cannot be effectively used with a debugger.
  • RelWithDebInfo builds are fast, and can be used with a debugger, but some lines may be executed in a different order to how they appear in the source code, and some may be skipped altogether, making debugging more difficult.

None of these are quite the same as official release builds - they have a different setting called Link Time Optimization (LTO)/Interprocedural Optimisation turned on. As it's a time-costly option, automatic builds and the instructions above do not have LTO enabled. It may affect performance, but we have no credible reports of the effect being significant.

Enabling LTO can be done by ticking a checkbox in the CMake GUI, or passing -DOPENMW_LTO_BUILD=1 on the command line when configuring with CMake.

NOTE: This setting only affects Release builds - it would hurt debuggability for RelWithDebInfo and Debug builds, undermining their whole purpose, so we keep it off for them.

To enable LTO for an existing build:

  • Open the CMake GUI. This should show up if you type cmake gui into the Start menu.
  • Set the build directory to the one with your OpenMW solution file, Ninja build files, or NMake makefiles. It should pick up all the settings the build script set.
  • Tick the OPENMW_LTO_BUILD option (it might be fastest to type LTO into the filter bar).
  • Press Generate.
  • If using Visual Studio, it will then ask to reload the solution.
  • Build again.

Linux

Installing Dependencies

Arch

There is a development package available for OpenMW on the AUR. It can be found at [1].

Information about building packages from the Arch User Repository (AUR) can be found at the Arch wiki.

Debian and Ubuntu

Key requirements

Because some dependencies of OpenMW are not in the Ubuntu repositories we made a development repository on Launchpad which provides packages for the missing dependencies.

To be able to install these packages you need to add the openmw Launchpad PPA by running:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openmw/openmw

and to make sure that the ppa will be used run:

sudo apt-get update

Packages

You will need g++ in order to compile OpenMW.

To setup a build environment and install all dependencies type:

 sudo apt-get install git build-essential cmake \
 libopenal-dev libopenscenegraph-dev libbullet-dev libsdl2-dev \
 libmygui-dev libunshield-dev liblz4-dev libtinyxml-dev libqt5opengl5-dev \
 libboost-filesystem-dev libboost-program-options-dev libboost-iostreams-dev \
 libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev libavutil-dev libswscale-dev libswresample-dev \
 librecast-dev libluajit-5.1-dev libsqlite3-dev libyaml-cpp-dev libcollada-dom-dev \
 qttools5-dev


Fedora Workstation

Key requirements

Because some dependencies of OpenMW are not in the Fedora Workstation repositories, you need to enable RPMFusion free and non-free repositories which provide packages for the missing dependencies.

Packages

You will need g++ in order to compile OpenMW.

To setup a build environment and install most of the dependencies type:

sudo dnf groupinstall development-tools
sudo dnf install openal-devel OpenSceneGraph-devel OpenSceneGraph-Collada SDL2-devel \
qt6-qtbase-devel qt6-linguist boost-devel boost-filesystem boost-thread boost-program-options \
boost-system boost-iostreams ffmpeg-devel ffmpeg-libs bullet-devel tinyxml-devel lz4-devel \
cmake luajit-devel sqlite-devel gtest-devel gmock-devel yaml-cpp-devel libXt-devel

While this list of packages is technically up-to-date, you'll run into problems if you don't get MyGUI and unshield libraries.

First try doing that:

sudo dnf install mygui-devel unshield-devel

This will probably fail.

If you're reading this in 2090 and it doesn't fail as expected, please bother someone to update these instructions!

But if you're reading this circa 2024, you are probably using Fedora 38 or newer and it will have trouble.

The issue is that the official Fedora repositories don't include MyGUI and unshield anymore at the time this is being written.

Fortunately, as a temporary measure, you should be able to build their libraries from the source code and either install them to your system - bypassing the package management system, which is not recommended - or point OpenMW's CMake environment to their location.

unshield and MyGUI

unshield adds no new dependencies. MyGUI's only relevant dependency is FreeType. Get it:

sudo dnf install freetype-devel

and then you can follow the fetching source and building instructions from below for both.

You must keep the MyGUI notes in the beginning of this article in mind.

While configuring OpenMW's CMake, you will now need to manually point it to the brand-new libraries and the source code in your system. Have fun.

Bullet

This isn't where the fun ends, though: remember installing Bullet libraries? Well, there wasn't any particular reason to install them, since - at the moment - the ones in Fedora repositories are not built with double-precision support enabled.

You'll have to build Bullet from source as well. Make sure to enable double-precision in Bullet's CMake (USE_DOUBLE_PRECISION).

Once again, you can tinker with its other build settings to your liking as OpenMW currently only needs BulletCollision library.

After building Bullet, you should get back to OpenMW's CMake settings.

Once again, have some fun configuring it by pointing CMake to Bullet libraries and source code. By this point you should be able to finish Makefile generation successfully.

openSUSE Tumbleweed

Packages

You will need g++ in order to compile OpenMW.

To setup a build environment and install all dependencies type:

sudo zypper in git cmake \
ffmpeg-6-lib{avcodec,avformat,avutil,swscale,swresample}-devel \
libbullet-devel unshield-devel libOpenSceneGraph-devel OpenSceneGraph-plugins \
libboost_{filesystem,program_options,iostreams}-devel \
libXt-devel \
MyGUI-devel SDL2-devel luajit-devel \
qt6-base-devel qt6-wayland \
doxygen sqlite3-devel yaml-cpp-devel

openSUSE also supports installing packages from their cmake BuildRequires. For example, one can enter `sudo zypper in 'cmake(yaml-cpp)'` to install `yaml-cpp-devel`.

Fetching the source

Download the source from the main downloads page: [2], or get the latest git snapshot:

 git clone https://gitlab.com/OpenMW/openmw

 cd openmw

Building

With make

Note that this is an out-of-source build. Generally, this is the preferred method when working with cmake.

 mkdir build
 cd build
 cmake ../

This creates a regular makefile.

Now we can start compiling. Normally you can just run

make

but if you have multiple cores, you can decrease your compile time by doing this:

make -j`getconf _NPROCESSORS_ONLN`

Note** If you are having undefined reference errors while compiling, its possible that you have previously installed a different openscenegraph version than what openMW depends on.

To remove it, you can use

#removes just package
apt-get remove <yourOSGversion>

#or 

#removes configurations as well
apt-get remove --purge <yourOSGversion>


If this doesn't work, it might be necessary to manually remove the libraries installed by the package.

You can usually find them in one of these:

/usr/lib
/usr/local/library
/usr/lib/<cpu_architecture>-linux-gnu

macOS

Important

If you experiencing configuration or build errors, or just in doubt, please refer to our CI build scripts, as they are proven to be working and should help you setup build environment on almost any compatible Mac with OS X 10.15 or higher (older versions could work too, but we're unable to test on them).

Dependency setup: https://gitlab.com/OpenMW/openmw/blob/master/CI/before_install.osx.sh

Build: https://gitlab.com/OpenMW/openmw/blob/master/CI/before_script.osx.sh

Prerequisites

OpenMW requires C++20 in order to compile. If you've got macOS 11.0 or later, you can use the Xcode provided compiler (clang) You will also need the Xcode comand line tools.

CMake & pkg-config are required. You can install these via Homebrew:

$ brew install cmake
$ brew install pkg-config

Dependencies

The easiest way to handle OpenMW dependencies is to use openmw-dep, which is what is used for official release builds. Either follow the instructions in that repository to build from source, or download the prebuilt dependencies here.

To determine which openmw-deps zip to use, see this CI script and choose the appropriate one depending if you are running arm64 or not.

Regardless, you will then need to install a few additional tools:

$ brew install qt@5 openal-soft icu4c yaml-cpp

$ export PATH="/opt/homebrew/opt/qt@5/bin:$PATH"

Build

First of all you'll need to clone OpenMW source code, either from our main repository or from your fork:

$ git clone https://gitlab.com/OpenMW/openmw/

Then you can cd into source directory and look around. Please note that out-of-source build is recommended:

$ mkdir build
$ cd build

After this, the openmw & build directories should be siblings.

If you are using openmw-deps and have unzipped it, and assuming it is a sibling of the above folders, run:

$ DEPENDENCIES_ROOT="../openmw-deps"

Regardless, run:

$ QT_PATH=$(brew --prefix qt@5)
$ ICU_PATH=$(brew --prefix icu4c)
$ OPENAL_PATH=$(brew --prefix openal-soft)

Then call CMake:

$ cmake \
    -D CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH="$DEPENDENCIES_ROOT;$QT_PATH;$OPENAL_PATH" \
    -D CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug \
    -D ICU_ROOT="$ICU_PATH" \
    -G"Unix Makefiles" \
    ../openmw/

You may need to include this line in the `cmake` arguements: -D CMAKE_OSX_SYSROOT="$MAC_OS_VERSION" \ where $MAC_OS_VERSION is the version of macOS in the format macosx10.##. For instance, if you are running macOS 10.13 (High Sierra), $MAC_OS_VERSION would need to be set to macosx10.13.

You may need to include this line in the `cmake` arguments: -D SDL2_INCLUDE_DIR="$PATH_TO_DEPENDENCIES_DIR/include/SDL2" \.

Then after CMake is successful, build:

$ make

And try:

$ open OpenMW.app
$ open OpenMW-CS.app

Or run binaries directly to see the output:

$ OpenMW.app/Contents/MacOS/openmw-launcher
$ OpenMW.app/Contents/MacOS/openmw
$ OpenMW-CS.app/Contents/MacOS/OpenMW-CS

Deployment

Refer to the CI scripts in the repo for the up to date documentation.

Build & package:

$ make package

After this command completes, you'll have a *.dmg file in current directory. You can publish this file as OpenMW release, send it to your friend, etc.

Note that if you'll try to launch release versions of OpenMW.app or OpenMW-CS.app directrly from build directory they won't work, because they're built in deployment configuration when all dependencies are expected to be inside application bundle, but they're not until everything is packed in *.dmg.

Troubleshooting

See important note at the top of the section.

Note on Qt

Supported Qt version for macOS builds is 5.15.2.

Note that you can install Qt from homebrew too but we previously had some issues with deployment of OpenMW binaries built against homebrewed Qt. It's completely fine if you don't intend to deploy to other machines, though. Also note that we currently support Qt5, not Qt6 which is the latest version provided by homebrew. The following command can be used to obtain the supported version.

$ brew install qt@5

It's recommended, however, to use package from Qt Project site if you're planning to deploy your builds to other machines.

Note on yaml-cpp

On macOS 10.15, you should also ensure that the compiler will use the Homebrew version. This will be done with the cmake parameters (see below).

Note on Bullet

As of macOS 14.3 and circa 2024, brew install bullet provides a build of bullet that does not include double-precision support enabled.

You'll have to build Bullet from source. Make sure to enable double-precision in Bullet's CMake (USE_DOUBLE_PRECISION). As of February 2024, the Bullet repo includes a handy ./build_cmake_pybullet_double.sh which will build Bullet with the proper CMake flag for double-precision.

Once again, you can tinker with its other build settings to your liking as OpenMW currently only needs BulletCollision library.

After building Bullet, you should get back to OpenMW's CMake settings.

Once again, have some fun configuring it by pointing CMake to Bullet libraries and source code. By this point you should be able to finish Makefile generation successfully.

macOS 10.15

The clang compiler provided by Xcode on macOS 10.15 do not support C++20 features, but the one provided by brew support them. Before compiling OpenMW, you should install llvm via brew:

  $ brew install llvm

Then specify to cmake that you want it to use brew llvm via export:

$ export CC="/usr/local/opt/llvm/bin/clang"
$ export CCX="/usr/local/opt/llvm/bin/clang++"
$ export CPPFLAGS="-I/usr/local/opt/llvm/include"

or via cmake parameters. In such case, make sure that you apply the CPPFLAGS after the "stdlib=libc++" one i.e.,

  -D CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS="-stdlib=libc++ -I/usr/local/opt/llvm/include"

Data

For a detailed description of how to obtain the data files check Installation_Instructions#Install_Game_Files.