Building GLib

GLib uses the Meson build system. The normal sequence for compiling and installing the GLib library is thus:

$ meson setup _build
$ meson compile -C _build
$ meson install -C _build

On FreeBSD, you will need something more complex:

$ env CPPFLAGS="-I/usr/local/include" LDFLAGS="-L/usr/local/lib -Wl,--disable-new-dtags" \
> meson setup \
> -Dxattr=false \
> -Dinstalled_tests=true \
> -Db_lundef=false \
> _build
$ meson compile -C _build

The standard options provided by Meson may be passed to the meson command. Please see the Meson documentation or run:

meson configure --help

for information about the standard options.

GLib is compiled with strict aliasing disabled. It is strongly recommended that this is not re-enabled by overriding the compiler flags, as GLib has not been tested with strict aliasing and cannot be guaranteed to work.


Before you can compile the GLib library, you need to have various other tools and libraries installed on your system. If you are building from a release archive, you will need a compliant C toolchain, Meson, and pkg-config; the requirements are the same when building from a Git repository clone of GLib.

  • pkg-config is a tool for tracking the compilation flags needed for libraries that are used by the GLib library. (For each library, a small .pc text file is installed in a standard location that contains the compilation flags needed for that library along with version number information).

A UNIX build of GLib requires that the system implements at least the original 1990 version of POSIX. Beyond this, it depends on a number of other libraries.

  • The GNU libiconv library is needed to build GLib if your system doesn’t have the iconv() function for doing conversion between character encodings. Most modern systems should have iconv(), however many older systems lack an iconv() implementation. On such systems, you must install the libiconv library. This can be found at:

If your system has an iconv() implementation but you want to use libiconv instead, make sure it is installed to the default compiler header/library search path (for instance, in /usr/local/). The iconv.h that libiconv installs hides the system iconv. Meson then detects this, recognizes that the system iconv is unusable and the external one is mandatory, and automatically forces it to be used.

If you are using the native iconv implementation on Solaris instead of libiconv, you’ll need to make sure that you have the converters between locale encodings and UTF-8 installed. At a minimum you’ll need the SUNWuiu8 package. You probably should also install the SUNWciu8, SUNWhiu8, SUNWjiu8, and SUNWkiu8 packages.

The native iconv on Compaq Tru64 doesn’t contain support for UTF-8, so you’ll need to use GNU libiconv instead. (When using GNU libiconv for GLib, you’ll need to use GNU libiconv for GNU gettext as well.) This probably applies to related operating systems as well.

  • Python 3.5 or newer is required. Your system Python must conform to PEP 394 For FreeBSD, this means that the lang/python3 port must be installed.

  • The libintl library from the GNU gettext package is needed if your system doesn’t have the gettext() functionality for handling message translation databases.

  • A thread implementation is needed. The thread support in GLib can be based upon POSIX threads or win32 threads.

  • GRegex uses the PCRE library for regular expression matching. The system version of PCRE is used, unless not available (which is the case on Android), in which case a fallback subproject is used.

  • The optional extended attribute support in GIO requires the getxattr() family of functions that may be provided by the C library or by the standalone libattr library. To build GLib without extended attribute support, use the -Dxattr=false option.

  • The optional SELinux support in GIO requires libselinux. To build GLib without SELinux support, use the -Dselinux=disabled option.

  • The optional support for DTrace requires the sys/sdt.h header, which is provided by SystemTap on Linux. To build GLib without DTrace, use the -Ddtrace=false option.

  • The optional support for SystemTap can be disabled with the -Dsystemtap=false option. Additionally, you can control the location where GLib installs the SystemTap probes, using the -Dtapset_install_dir=DIR option.

  • gobject-introspection is needed to generate introspection data for consumption by other projects, and to generate the GLib documentation via gi-docgen. There is a dependency cycle between GLib and gobject-introspection. This can be broken by building GLib first with -Dintrospection=disabled, then building gobject-introspection against this copy of GLib, then re-building GLib against the new gobject-introspection with -Dintrospection=enabled. The GLib API documentation can be built during this second build process if -Ddocumentation=true is also set.

Extra Configuration Options

In addition to the normal options, these additional ones are supported when configuring the GLib library:

This is a standard Meson option which specifies how much debugging and optimization to enable. If the build type is debug, G_ENABLE_DEBUG will be defined and GLib will be built with additional debug code enabled. You can override this behavior using -Dglib_debug.
Normally, Meson should be able to work out the correct thread implementation to use. This option forces POSIX threads to be used even if the platform provides another threading API (for example, on Windows).
-Dbsymbolic_functions=false and -Dbsymbolic_functions=true
By default, GLib uses the -Bsymbolic-functions linker flag to avoid intra-library PLT jumps. A side-effect of this is that it is no longer possible to override internal uses of GLib functions with LD_PRELOAD. Therefore, it may make sense to turn this feature off in some situations. The -Dbsymbolic_functions=false option allows to do that.
-Ddocumentation=false and -Ddocumentation=true
By default, GLib will not build documentation for the library and tools. This option can be used to enable building the documentation.
-Dman-pages=disabled and -Dman-pages=enabled
By default, GLib will detect whether rst2man and the necessary DocBook stylesheets are installed. If they are, then it will use them to build the included man pages from the reStructuredText sources. These options can be used to explicitly control whether man pages should be built and used.
-Dxattr=false and -Dxattr=true
By default, GLib will detect whether the getxattr() family of functions is available. If it is, then extended attribute support will be included in GIO. These options can be used to explicitly control whether extended attribute support should be included or not. getxattr() and friends can be provided by glibc or by the standalone libattr library.
-Dselinux=auto, -Dselinux=enabled or -Dselinux=disabled
By default, GLib will detect if libselinux is available and include SELinux support in GIO if it is. These options can be used to explicitly control whether SELinux support should be included.
-Ddtrace=false and -Ddtrace=true
By default, GLib will detect if DTrace support is available, and use it. These options can be used to explicitly control whether DTrace support is compiled into GLib.
-Dsystemtap=false and -Dsystemtap=true
This option requires DTrace support. If it is available, then GLib will also check for the presence of SystemTap.
-Db_coverage=true and -Db_coverage=false
Enable the generation of coverage reports for the GLib tests. This requires the lcov frontend to gcov from the Linux Test Project. To generate a coverage report, use ninja coverage-html. The report is placed in the meson-logs directory.