This is version 1.0 of Compile-Howto manual.

1. Introduction

There are times when you may want to compile an application from source, rather than install a binary release (e.g. an RPM). This document has been written as guide to show you, at a beginners level, how to do this. I will presume that you are a Linux user, although much of the discussion is pretty generic.

1.1. Reasons for compiling from source

Common reasons for compiling from source include:

  • There is no binary release for a particular application you are interested in. This is probably the most frequent reason.

  • The binary release is out of date, and you want to take advantage of a newer release of the application (because of bug fixes or new features that you deem interesting).

  • The binary release is not optimized for your system, and you want to gain some speed by compiling with better optimization (don't expect more than a few percent, however).

  • You want to audit the code for security (while this is a frequently cited reason, I doubt that many people out there really look into megabytes of source code every few days … ). If you are into that, you probably already know everything discussed in this guide.

1.2. About This Document

This document was written in DocBook(SGML). The SGML source is available online. You can use the source to create other formats including PostScript, and PDF.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. You may obtain a copy of the GNU Free Documentation License from the Free Software Foundation by visiting their Web site or by writing to: Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.

You can reach the author at rwichmann {at}