Chun-wei Fan <> Philip Withnall <> Nirbheek Chauhan <>

This document was last updated in 2019. You're reading this in the future, and lots of information might be misleading or outdated in your age. You have been warned.


For prebuilt binaries (DLLs and EXEs) and developer packages (headers, import libraries) of GLib, Pango, GTK+ etc for Windows, go to . They are for “native” Windows meaning they use the Win32 API and Microsoft C runtime library only. No POSIX (Unix) emulation layer like Cygwin is involved.

To build GLib on Win32, you can use either GCC (“MinGW”) or the Microsoft Visual Studio toolchain. For the latter, Visual Studio 2015 and later are recommended. For older Visual Studio versions, see below.

You can also cross-compile GLib for Windows from Linux using the cross-compiling mingw packages for your distro.

Note that to just use GLib on Windows, there is no need to build it yourself.

On Windows setting up a correct build environment is very similar to typing meson; ninja like on Linux.

The following preprocessor macros are to be used for conditional compilation related to Win32 in GLib-using code:

  • G_OS_WIN32 is defined when compiling for native Win32, without any POSIX emulation, other than to the extent provided by the bundled Microsoft C library.

  • G_WITH_CYGWIN is defined if compiling for the Cygwin environment. Note that G_OS_WIN32 is not defined in that case, as Cygwin is supposed to behave like Unix. G_OS_UNIX is defined by a GLib for Cygwin.

  • G_PLATFORM_WIN32 is defined when either G_OS_WIN32 or G_WITH_CYGWIN is defined.

These macros are defined in glibconfig.h, and are thus available in all source files that include <glib.h>.

Additionally, there are the compiler-specific macros:

  • __GNUC__ is defined when using GCC or Clang
  • __clang__ is defined when using Clang or Clang-CL
  • _MSC_VER is defined when using MSVC or Clang-CL

G_OS_WIN32 implies using the Microsoft C runtime, which used to be msvcrt.dll and is now the Universal CRT when building with Visual Studio. When using the MinGW-GCC toolchain, the CRT in use depends on the settings used while the toolchain was built. We highly recommend using the Universal CRT when building with MinGW too.

GLib is not actively tested with the static versions of the UCRT, but if you need to use those, patches are welcome.

Building software that use GLib or GTK+

Building software that just uses GLib or GTK+ also require to have the right compiler set up the right way. If you intend to use MinGW-GCC, follow the relevant instructions below in that case, too.

You should link to GLib using the -mms-bitfields GCC flag. This flag means that the struct layout rules are identical to those used by MSVC. This is essential if the same DLLs are to be usable both from gcc- and MSVC-compiled code.

Cross-CRT issues

You should take care that the DLLs that your code links to are using the same C runtime library. Not doing so can and likely will lead to panics and crashes unless you're very careful while passing objects allocated by a library linked with one CRT to a library linked to another CRT, or (more commonly) not doing that at all.

If you do pass CRT objects across CRT boundaries, do not file any issues about whatever happens next.

To give an example, opening a FILE handle created by one CRT cannot be understood by any other CRT, and will lead to an access violation. You also cannot allocate memory in one CRT and free it using another.

There are many other cases where you must not allow objects to cross CRT boundaries, but in theory if you're very very careful, you can make things work. Again, please do not come to us for help if you choose to do this.

Building GLib

You can build GLib with MinGW-GCC, MSVC, or (experimentally) with Clang-CL.

For all compilers, you will need the following:

  • Install Python 3.6.x or newer, either 32-bit or 64-bit. We recommend enabling the option to add it to your PATH.
  • Install Meson
  • Install the Ninja build tool, which can also be installed with pip3. You can skip this step if you want to generate Visual Studio project files.
  • git for Windows is required, since Meson makes use of git to download dependencies using subprojects.

Building with MinGW-GCC

Open your MSYS or MSYS2 shell where you have the MinGW-GCC toolchain installed, and build GLib like any other Meson project.

Building with Visual Studio 2015 or newer

Meson is now the only supported method of building GLib using Visual Studio.

To do a build using Meson, do the following:

  • Open a Visual Studio (or SDK) command prompt that matches the Visual Studio version and build platform (Win32/x86, x64, etc.) that will be used in all the following steps.

  • Create an empty directory/folder for the build inside your GLib sources directory, say, _builddir, and cd into it.

  • Set up the build using Meson:

> meson .. --buildtype=<release|debug|debugoptimized> --prefix=<path> [--backend=vs]

Please see the Meson docs for an explanation for --buildtype.

The path passed for --prefix need not to be on the same drive as where the build is carried out, but it is recommended to use forward slashes for this path. The --backend=vs option can be used if the Visual Studio project generator is preferred over using Ninja.

  • Build, test and install the build: Run ninja to build, meson test to test and meson install to install the build. If you used --backend=vs, instead of running ninja, you need to use msbuild or you can open the generated solution in Visual Studio.

Building with old versions of Visual Studio

The steps are the same as above, with the following notes about issues that you might face.

C4819 build errors

If you are building GLib-based libraries or applications, or GLib itself and you see a C4819 error (or warning, before C4819 is treated as an error in msvc_recommended_pragmas.h), please be advised that this error/warning should not be disregarded, as this likely means portions of the build are not being done correctly, as this is an issue of Visual Studio running on CJK (East Asian) locales. This is an issue that also affects builds of other projects, such as QT, Firefox, LibreOffice/OpenOffice, Pango and GTK, along with many other projects.

To overcome this problem, please set your system's locale setting for non-Unicode to English (United States), reboot, and restart the build, and the code should build normally.

Support for pre-2012 Visual Studio

This release of GLib requires at least the Windows 8 SDK in order to be built successfully using Visual Studio, which means that it is no longer supported to build GLib with Visual Studio 2008 nor 2010. People that still need to use Visual Studio 2008 or 2010 should continue to use glib-2.66.x.