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Installing RGBDS

You can either use a pre-built version, if one is available for your operating system; or you can build RGBDS from source.


Below is a list of OSes we know are supported.

If your OS isn’t listed below, try finding rgbds in your package manager—refer to your OS' documentation for help. If you still can’t find RGBDS, or the specific version you are looking for is unavailable, you will have to compile it from source.

Arch Linux

RGBDS is now available in the official repos as community/rgbds; you can also get the latest master via the rgbds-git AUR package, or RGBDS 0.2.5 from rgbds2, still from the AUR.

pacman -S rgbds

We refer you to the Arch Linux wiki on how to install official packages or AUR packages, or to find and use an AUR helper.


RGBDS is available on Homebrew as the rgbds package.

brew install rgbds

You can also install the master branch by passing the --HEAD flag:

brew install rgbds --HEAD

The install instructions change a bit depending on the environment you wish to use RGBDS with.


The "plain Windows" instructions may also work for some environments listed further below, since most of them pick up Windows' PATH. However, if you have such an environment, we recommend you follow its specific install instructions instead.

  1. First, pick the version you want to install. If you want to use master instead of a release, go here.
  2. Follow the "release page" link below "GitHub links", and grab either of the win32 (for 32-bit Windows) or win64 (for 64-bit Windows) .zip files, near the bottom of the page.
  3. Unzip that file, you should get the .exe files alongside a couple of .dlls.
  4. Either:
    • Put all of the files in a directory, then add it to the PATH. This will permanently allow you to use RGBDS. If you only want to modify the PATH temporarily, instead of the permanent setx command, you can use the temporary set one: set PATH="%PATH%<rgbds_path> for cmd.exe. Use one of the following methods:
      • Graphically:
        1. Open Control Panel
        2. Click "User Accounts"
        3. Click "User Accounts" again
        4. Click "Change my environment variables"
        5. Select the "Path" line in the top panel
        6. Click "Edit..."
        7. Click "Browse...", select the folder the files are in, and click OK
        8. Make sure that the new entry (which should be highlighted) is at the bottom of the list; if not, click on "Move Down" until it is
        9. Click "OK"
        10. Click "OK"
      • Using a command line:
        1. Use Explorer to go into the folder the files are in (you should see rgbasm.exe etc.), and click a blank part of the address bar near the top. Copy this path, and use this instead of <rgbds_path> in the third step!
        2. Open cmd or PowerShell
        3. Type setx PATH "%PATH%<rgbds_path>;" for cmd.exe, or setx PATH ${"{"}Env:PATH}<rgbds_path>; for PowerShell; replace <rgbds_path> with the path you copied in the first step
        4. Close the window for the changes to take effect
    • Put all of the files in your project's directory
    • Put all of the files in a directory already in the PATH
  5. Profit! RGBDS can now be used from your favorite command line (cmd.exe or PowerShell, most likely). You can test it by running rgbasm --version.

Building from source

RGBDS is open-source, which means you can always compile it yourself, for example if no pre-built solution is available to you, or if you want a specific version.

RGBDS aims to be relatively painless to compile, keeping its dependencies to a minimum:

  • A C11-compatible compiler
  • libpng (optional, only required for RGBGFX)

Some of the build steps vary between systems, so the instructions provided here are somewhat generic. Windows works largely differently from everything else, so some expertise is expected if attempting this on Windows.

1. Get the source

You first need to get the source files to be compiled, using one of the methods below.

Using Git

First, clone the repository. Then, run git checkout <version> (e.g. git checkout v0.4.1), and you're set.

Downloading source snapshots

Pick a release, then under that release "GitHub links", follow the release page link. Near the bottom of that page is a list of assets; grab either of the last three (rgbds-<version>.tar.gz, "Source code (zip)", or "Source code (tar.gz)"), and extract it.

2. Build

The following are required to build RGBDS; it's possible that some are already installed on your system.

  • make and/or cmake, depending on what method you choose below
  • bash shell
  • a C compiler, typically gcc or clang
  • bison (or yacc/byacc prior to RGBDS 0.5.0)
  • pkg-config (unless using cmake)

If you are building RGBGFX, the following are also required:

  • a C++ compiler, typically g++ or clang
  • libpng's development headers. For Linux users: the package is typically called libpng-dev, libpng-devel, or sometimes plainly libpng. Additionally, a 16 or 1.6 may be present after libpng (example).

Two build systems are supported: plain old make, and CMake. Both can be used on most systems, but Windows users will almost certainly be unable to use make.

Make sure to run all of the following commands from the root directory of the sources! That directory should contain a file called Makefile, another called CMakeLists.txt, and a few more.

Using Make

Simply run the following two commands:

sudo make install

The second command is optional if you don't want to install RGBDS system-wide.

The following variables can be defined to control installation, like so: make Q=, make install PREFIX=~/.local

  • PREFIX: Location where RGBDS will be installed. Defaults to /usr/local.
  • bindir: Location where the binaries will be installed. Defaults to ${PREFIX}/bin.
  • mandir: Location where the manpages will be installed. Defaults to ${PREFIX}/share/man.
  • DESTDIR: This is prepended to all paths during the installation. It is mainly used for packaging.
  • Q: Whether to quiet the build or not. To make the build more verbose, clear this variable. Defaults to @.
  • STRIP: Whether to strip the installed binaries of debug symbols or not. Defaults to -s.
  • BINMODE: Permissions of the installed binaries. Defaults to 755.
  • MANMODE: Permissions of the installed man pages. Defaults to 644.

Using CMake

CMake minimum version

Building RGBDS with CMake requires CMake 3.9 or later.

First, run CMake on the project.

cmake 3.13 and later:

cmake -S . -B build -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release

cmake 3.12.4 and earlier:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
cd ..

Then, build RGBDS:

cmake --build build

Finally, you may install RGBDS. You are not required to, you can do whatever with the four binaries in build/src at this point.

cmake 3.15 and later:

sudo cmake --install build

cmake 3.14 and earlier:

cd build
sudo make install

Using RGBDS master

Using a package manager

Your package manager may have a master version of RGBDS available, such as Arch's rgbds-git AUR package. There is no single way, you will have to look for it manually.

Building yourself

Build the source as usual, but replace step 1 with getting the master repo instead. The recommended way is to clone the repo (see GitHub's help on it if you have trouble), but you can also download the repo as ZIP.

Then, follow the rest of the instructions to build from source.

Using our CI

RGBDS has continuous integration: as part of our testing process, each time a modification is made to the code, a server builds RGBDS for several platforms, and runs a battery of tests to ensure nothing was broken. The executables built during the process are made available on GitHub.

We only recommend doing this on Windows, as the Windows zips are stand-alone, but the others aren't. You can still use them if you know what you're doing, but we don't recommend it.