How to Compile and Install wxWidgets on Ubuntu/Debian/Linux Mint

By | August 10, 2020


wxWidgets is an application development framework/library that allows developer to make cross platform GUI applications for Windows, Mac and Linux using the same codebase.

Its primarily written in C++ but has bindings for other languages as well like Python, Perl and Ruby.

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to compile and build wxwidgets 3.0+ on Debian based linux systems like Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

Compiling wxWidgets from source is not at all difficult as it might sound and takes only a few minutes to do.

The library can be compiled in different modes like static library or dynamic library.

1. Download wxWidgets

The first step would be to download the wxWidgets source files from

Once done, extract the files to a directory.

2. Setup build environment

To compile wxwidgets we would need some utility programs including the C++ compiler on Linux called g++. And all of it would be installed from the repositories using apt-get.

We also need the GTK development libraries which wxWidgets depend on.

$ sudo apt-get install libgtk-3-dev build-essential checkinstall
The utility called checkinstall would allow us to create an installation package for wxwidgets, so that later on it can un-installed easily using package managers

3. Compile wxWidgets

Get inside the directory where wxWidgets is extracted. In order to keep things clean, create a directory where the compilation would be done.

$ mkdir gtk-build
$ cd gtk-build/

Now run the configure and make commands one by one. Each one would take some time to finish.

$ ../configure --disable-shared --enable-unicode
$ make

The "--disable-shared" option instructs wxwidgets to builds static libraries instead of shared/dynamic ones.

After the make command finishes, the compilation is done successfully. Its time to install the wxWidgets files to the correct location.

More information about compile options can be found in install.txt and readme.txt files that can be found in /docs/gtk/ inside the wxwidgets directory.

4. Install with checkinstall

Now instead of using the "make install" command, we shall use the checkinstall command to create a deb package for wxwidgets. Run the following command

$ sudo checkinstall

Checkinstall would ask few questions during the process and make sure to provide a version number when asked, otherwise it would fail.

Once the process is over, wxWidgets would be installed and also a deb file would be created in the same directory.

5. Track the installed files

If you wish to check where the files are installed, use the dpkg command followed by the name of the package provided during the checkinstall process.

$ dpkg -L package_name

6. Compile the samples

After compiling wxWidgets, its time to compile the sample programs to see it in action. In the same directory where we compiled wxwidgets, a new subdirectory called samples would have been created.

Just enter it and run the make command

$ compile samples
$ cd samples/
$ make

After the make process finishes, get inside each sample sub directory and there should be an executable file that can be run right away to see the demo.

7. Compile your first program

After you are done with the demo programs, its time to write your own program and compile it. Again it is quite easy.

It is assumed that you are coding in C++ and for that you can use any good editor with syntax highlighting feature. For example gedit, kate, kwrite would do. Or you might want to try fully loaded IDEs like Geany, Codelite, Codeblocks etc.

However for your first program just use an ordinary text editor get it done quick.

Here it is

#include <wx/wx.h>

class Simple : public wxFrame
    Simple(const wxString& title)
		: wxFrame(NULL, wxID_ANY, title, wxDefaultPosition, wxSize(250, 150))

class MyApp : public wxApp
	bool OnInit()
		Simple *simple = new Simple(wxT("Simple"));
		return true;


Now save the program somewhere and compile it with the following commands

# compile
$ g++ basic.cpp `wx-config --cxxflags --libs std` -o program

# run
$ ./program

Compiling with non standard libraries

The wx-config command shown above provides only the standard libraries by default. If you are using the Aui classes for example, then you need to specify additional libraries for it

$ g++ code.cpp `wx-config --cxxflags --libs std,aui` -o program

More information can be found here.


Download source and help files for wxWidgets

wxWidgets wiki page on compile instructions

Notes on how to use the latest wxWidgets version (3.0+)

About Silver Moon

A Tech Enthusiast, Blogger, Linux Fan and a Software Developer. Writes about Computer hardware, Linux and Open Source software and coding in Python, Php and Javascript. He can be reached at [email protected].


How to Compile and Install wxWidgets on Ubuntu/Debian/Linux Mint
  1. Ove Fransson

    I am completely new and do not understand exactly how to do this. Can someone explain

    stugan@raspberrypi:~/Hämtningar/gtk-build $ ../configure –disable-shared –enable-unicode
    bash: ../configure: Filen eller katalogen finns inte

  2. David

    I entered the compile samples command
    $compile samples and got:-
    bash: compile: command not found
    Im using ‘wxWidgets-3.1.5’ on a debian10 distro called bunsen-labs
    I’ve nothing on the net that solves this prolem.

  3. Alan8

    When I type “make” I get dozens of lines like:

    “../src/gtk/verti.xbm:6:38: error: narrowing conversion of ‘132’ from ‘int’ to ‘char’ inside { } [-Wnarrowing]”

    followed by “../src/gtk/verti.xbm:6:38: error: narrowing conversion of ‘132’ from ‘int’ to ‘char’ inside { } [-Wnarrowing]”.
    Repeating make does the same thing. No clue how to fix it. (Damn I hate Linux!)

  4. Maurizio

    Worked so fine out of the box.
    I tried the whole morning to compile it with Codeblock under Linux, but i failed.
    Somebody knows how to config Codeblock to compile successfully this code?

  5. jorge

    must eliminate a dot in the sentence ../configure –disable-shared –enable-unicode

    the correct is ./configure –disable-shared –enable-unicode

  6. Jon

    Another thank you for putting this up. Didn’t know which version of the PPA to use so tried this guide and it worked first time.

  7. Dave

    Very useful, especially so if you are going to be developing in C++. Adds enough to get started, something a simple PPA install would not do.

    1. Tom

      Exactly, I do not get folks who feel compelled to post lengthy articles on “compiling” things when installing from PPA is much, much simpler.

      1. Henry

        System libraries can vary between distributions… static and dynamic linking to the wrong versions can cause significant problems. Compiling from sources using the local environment is quite often desirable for this reason. Secondly (although not so important here) is the ability to fine tune build configurations… a good example of this is vim which has many possible flavors based on compile time flags.

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