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This page describes how to build GIMP.

See also the file INSTALL (or INSTALL.in in a GIMP repository). That text file also describes how to build GIMP.


You should know how to use:

  • a terminal and the command line.
  • shell environment variables.

GIMP's dependencies

Gimp depends on quite a few libraries, including but not limited to:

  • GLib – a library used by many gnome applications, containing utilities and common data structures for programs written in C.
  • GObject - a library for implemnting objects (as in Object-Oriented-Programming) in C.
  • GTK+ – a graphical toolkit for building cross-platform user interfaces. GIMP 2.99 and later need GTK 3.0.
  • Cairo – a 2D graphics library, used for drawing some of GIMP’s widget and also used by Gtk+.
  • Python-Cairo: Python bindings for Cairo
  • Pango – a library for laying out and rendering text, used also in Gtk+.
  • MyPaint - a painting library that allows a lot of flexibility for brushes; it needs both libmypaint (the libmypaint-v1 branch) and mypaint-brushes (the v1.3.x branch).

GIMP's core depends also on two libraries which are mainly (but not only) intended to be used with GIMP:

  • babl – a library for converting between pixel formats, heavily used by GIMP when communicating with GEGL.
  • GEGL – a graph based image processing library, heavily used in GIMP’s core.

Some of GIMP's plugins depend on (at least) the following libraries

  • librsvg – a library for rendering SVG files.
  • libpng – a library for reading and writing PNG image files. Used by Gtk+, GIMP and GEGL.
  • libexif - a library for manipulating exif data (image metadata).
  • libwmf - a library for working with WMF files.
  • libtiff - a library for reading and writing TIFF image files.
  • libjpeg - a library for reading and writing JPEG image files.
  • liblcms - the Little Color Management System, a library for working with color profiles.

This list is incomplete.

See also the file INSTALL (or INSTALL.in in GIMP master).

Build system

Preparing for Building

You may need to install some software to build GIMP, including a C compiler, make, GNU autotools, meson, and more, plus many dependencies. See the OS-specific pages for details:

1. Choose a place to install everything, and set a variable to point to it:

If you're building Gimp from master, you may not want to install it in your system prefix, as you may break your system Gimp installation, or get odd behavior, especially if you also have a system version of GIMP installed.

You should then create another prefix directory where Gimp (and some dependencies) may be installed safely. On Linux you could use $HOME/.local. Let's name your custom prefix :


3. Set some environment variables:

Some dependencies may be installed in this prefix too, so the build system should be able to find them :

# Used to find programs/tools during build
export PATH="${GIMP_PREFIX}/bin:$PATH"

# Used to detect the build dependencies
export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="${GIMP_PREFIX}/share/pkgconfig:${GIMP_PREFIX}/lib/pkgconfig${PKG_CONFIG_PATH:+:$PKG_CONFIG_PATH}"

# Used to find the glib-introspection dependencies
export XDG_DATA_DIRS="${XDG_DATA_DIRS:+$XDG_DATA_DIRS:}${GIMP_PREFIX}/share:/usr/local/share:/usr/share"

# Used to find the libraries at runtime

# Used by Autotools to find its tools

Later, to run the Gimp you have installed outside the usual places, you also need some of these environment variables. If you intend to frequently run the Gimp you have built, you may want to set some of these environment variables in your profile (a shell script that sets environment variables when you login.) In particular, you may want to set PATH and LD_LIBRARY_PATH, which affect runtime.

For Debian or derivatives (Ubuntu, Mint…) only:

Additionally to the previous commands (not in replacement), update some variables this way if you use a Debian derivative:

 arch="$(dpkg-architecture -qDEB_HOST_MULTIARCH 2> /dev/null)"
 export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="${GIMP_PREFIX}/lib/${arch}/pkgconfig:$PKG_CONFIG_PATH"

Note: The "${var:+:$var}" syntax prevents a trailing ":" character in the variable, that may lead to issues (especially for LD_LIBRARY_PATH).

Download the source code

Download with git

This is preferred when working on the source code and developing Gimp.

git clone https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/babl.git
git clone https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gegl.git
git clone https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gimp.git

You can build specific versions by choosing a tag (a fixed git revision)…

# List available tags
git tag
# Update the working directory to a specific tag :
git checkout GIMP_2_10_12

… or a branch :

# List available branches
git branch -a
# Checkout a branch :
git checkout 
git checkout -b wip/animation

If your distro does not provide them, you should get the Mypaint libs too :

git clone --branch libmypaint-v1 https://github.com/mypaint/libmypaint.git
git clone --branch v1.3.x https://github.com/mypaint/mypaint-brushes.git

Download release archives

Gimp also provides release archives. This is preferred when building stable releases.


Releases for mypaint can be found on their github page.

Build the source code


For both Libmypaint and Mypaint-brushes, use Autotools to install :

cd libmypaint

# Generate the configure script. That may be unnecessary with release archives :
# If you might want to set special options, you can now run `./configure --help` to see what's available.

# Configure the build (you can call ./configure --help):
./configure --prefix=${GIMP_PREFIX}

# Build the code :
make -j$(nproc) install

cd ..


Babl and Gegl use Meson. The build needs to be out-of-source, but the process is simple.

You can read the file meson_options.txt to find a list of options.

You may enable Link-time optimization (meson option b_lto)to have better performance.

cd babl
meson _build \
    --prefix=${GIMP_PREFIX} \
    --buildtype=release \

cd _build
ninja install

Then repeat for gegl.


Finally, you're ready to build Gimp!

You can choose between Autotools and Meson.

Meson is much faster than Autotools, but newer so considered "beta" quality.

Autotools build

The steps are similar to that for libmypaint, except that ./autogen.sh runs ./configure for you.

cd into the directory where you unpacked gegl.

If you're building source you checked out from git, run:

./autogen.sh --prefix=${GIMP_PREFIX}

(assuming, as recommended, you have chosen to install outside the usual place, and defined environment variable GIMP_PREFIX)

This generates a configure script and then runs it.

If you're building from a tarball, use configure instead of autogen:

./configure --prefix=${GIMP_PREFIX}

To see options you can configure, run:

./configure --help

(Generally, its easier to accept the default build configuration, at the expense of a longer build.)


make && make install

Meson build

You can configure the build with options.

Options for the meson build of Gimp are described in the repository file gimp/meson_options.txt. In the example below, the line '-Dpython=true' is one such option.

Meson itself also provides options, such as :

  • warning_level=[1, 2, 3] : The level of compiler warnings
  • b_lto=true|false : Enable link-time optimizations
  • b_coverage=true|false : Enable coverage tools.
  • b_pgo=off|generate|use : Enable profile guided optimizations
  • b_sanitize=none|address|thread|undefined|memory|address,undefined : Use a code sanitizer

cd gimp
meson _build \
    --prefix=${GIMP_PREFIX} \
    --buildtype=release \

cd _build
ninja install

Useful build options

You can customize the directory where Gimp stores settings. This prevents any interference with other GIMP installations on the same computer.

  • Autotools build : --with-gimpdir=GIMP/git-master
  • Meson build : -Dgimpdir=GIMP/git-master


Most problems will occur during the configure stage, and with any luck it's just a missing package and the error message will make it clear what package you need. But there are more subtle problems that can occur. If you have a difficult error, look in:


Running Your New GIMP

You need to keep defined the same environment variables as for the build. You may want to define them in a script that you will source with :

source ~/gimp_definitions.sh

To keep those variables contained only for the execution of Gimp, you may want to use subshells :

(source ~/gimp_definitions.sh ; $GIMP_PREFIX/bin/gimp-2.10)

See the OS-specific pages for more specific advice:

Build the web Gimp documentation

You can also build the documentation website (https://www.gimp.org/docs).

It uses docbook that requires some softwares, such as:


Now, to build the documentation:

git clone --depth=0 git@gitlab.gnome.org:GNOME/gimp-help.git
cd gimp-help
# Set this variable to your own language. It should correspond to a directory in the "po" source folder.
export LINGUAS=en
./autogen.sh [--without-gimp ALL_LINGUAS="en"]
make pdf-local