Compiling DFHack

You don’t need to compile DFHack unless you’re developing plugins or working on the core.

For users, modders, and authors of scripts it’s better to download and install the latest release instead.

How to get the code

DFHack doesn’t have any kind of system of code snapshots in place, so you will have to get code from the GitHub repository using Git. How to get Git is described under the instructions for each platform.

To get the latest release code (master branch):

git clone --recursive
cd dfhack

If your version of Git does not support the --recursive flag, you will need to omit it and run git submodule update --init after entering the dfhack directory.

To get the latest development code (develop branch), clone as above and then:

git checkout develop
git submodule update

Important note regarding submodule update and changing branches:

You must run git submodule update every time you change Git branch, for example when switching between master and develop branches and back. If a submodule only exists on the newer branch, you also need to run git submodule update --init. Failure to do this may result in strange build errors or “not a known DF version” errors.

Important note regarding very old git versions

If you are using git 1.8.0 or older, and cloned DFHack before commit 85a920d (around DFHack v0.43.03-alpha1), you may run into fatal git errors when updating submodules after switching branches. This is due to those versions of git being unable to handle our change from “scripts/3rdparty/name” submodules to a single “scripts” submodule. This may be fixable by renaming .git/modules/scripts to something else and re-running git submodule update --init on the branch with the single scripts submodule (and running it again when switching back to the one with multiple submodules, if necessary), but it is usually much simpler to upgrade your git version.

Contributing to DFHack

If you want to get involved with the development, create an account on GitHub, make a clone there and then use that as your remote repository instead.

We’d love that; join us on IRC (#dfhack channel on freenode) for discussion, and whenever you need help.

(Note: for submodule issues, please see the above instructions first!)

For lots more details on contributing to DFHack, including pull requests, code format, and more, please see Contributing Code.

Build types

cmake allows you to pick a build type by changing the CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE variable:


Without specifying a build type or ‘None’, cmake uses the CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS variable for building.

Valid and useful build types include ‘Release’, ‘Debug’ and ‘RelWithDebInfo’. ‘Debug’ is not available on Windows, use ‘RelWithDebInfo’ instead.


On Linux, DFHack acts as a library that shadows parts of the SDL API using LD_PRELOAD.


DFHack is meant to be installed into an existing DF folder, so get one ready.

We assume that any Linux platform will have git available (though it may need to be installed with your package manager.)

To build DFHack you need GCC version 4.8 or later. GCC 4.8 is easiest to work with due to avoiding libstdc++ issues (see below), but any version from 4.8 onwards (including 5.x) will work.

Before you can build anything, you’ll also need cmake. It is advisable to also get ccmake on distributions that split the cmake package into multiple parts.

You also need perl and the XML::LibXML and XML::LibXSLT perl packages (for the code generation parts). You should be able to find them in your distro repositories.

To build Stonesense, you’ll also need OpenGL headers.

Here are some package install commands for various platforms:

  • On Arch linux:

    • For the required Perl modules: perl-xml-libxml and perl-xml-libxslt (or through cpan)
  • On Ubuntu:

    apt-get install gcc cmake git zlib1g-dev libxml-libxml-perl libxml-libxslt-perl
  • Debian and derived distros should have similar requirements to Ubuntu.

Multilib dependencies

If you want to compile 32-bit DFHack on 64-bit distributions, you’ll need the multilib development tools and libraries:

  • gcc-multilib and g++-multilib
  • If you have installed a non-default version of GCC - for example, GCC 4.8 on a distribution that defaults to 5.x - you may need to add the version number to the multilib packages.
    • For example, gcc-4.8-multilib and g++-4.8-multilib if installing for GCC 4.8 on a system that uses a later GCC version.
    • This is definitely required on Ubuntu/Debian, check if using a different distribution.
  • zlib1g-dev:i386 (or a similar i386 zlib-dev package)

Note that installing a 32-bit GCC on 64-bit systems (e.g. gcc:i386 on Debian) will typically not work, as it depends on several other 32-bit libraries that conflict with system libraries. Alternatively, you might be able to use lxc to create a virtual 32-bit environment.


Building is fairly straightforward. Enter the build folder (or create an empty folder in the DFHack directory to use instead) and start the build like this:

cd build
cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE:string=Release -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<path to DF>
make install # or make -jX install on multi-core systems to compile with X parallel processes

<path to DF> should be a path to a copy of Dwarf Fortress, of the appropriate version for the DFHack you are building. This will build the library along with the normal set of plugins and install them into your DF folder.

Alternatively, you can use ccmake instead of cmake:

cd build
ccmake ..
make install

This will show a curses-based interface that lets you set all of the extra options. You can also use a cmake-friendly IDE like KDevelop 4 or the cmake-gui program.

Incompatible libstdc++

When compiling dfhack yourself, it builds against your system libstdc++. When Dwarf Fortress runs, it uses a libstdc++ shipped with the binary, which comes from GCC 4.8 and is incompatible with code compiled with newer GCC versions. If you compile DFHack with a GCC version newer than 4.8, you will see an error message such as:

./libs/Dwarf_Fortress: /pathToDF/libs/ version
    `GLIBCXX_3.4.18' not found (required by ./hack/

To fix this you can compile with GCC 4.8 or remove the libstdc++ shipped with DF, which causes DF to use your system libstdc++ instead:

cd /path/to/DF/
rm libs/

Note that distributing binaries compiled with newer GCC versions requires end- users to delete libstdc++ themselves and have a libstdc++ on their system from the same GCC version or newer. For this reason, distributing anything compiled with GCC versions newer than 4.8 is discouraged. In the future we may start bundling a later libstdc++ as part of the DFHack package, so as to enable compilation-for-distribution with a GCC newer than 4.8.

Mac OS X

DFHack functions similarly on OS X and Linux, and the majority of the information above regarding the build process (cmake and make) applies here as well.

DFHack can officially be built on OS X with anything from GCC 4.5 to 4.8, so 4.8 is recommended, as 4.5 has issues on newer systems, but 4.5-4.7 should also work. Anything newer than 4.8 will require you to perform extra steps to get DFHack to run (see Notes for GCC 4.9+, OS X 10.10+, or XCode 7 users), and your build will likely not be redistributable.

Notes for GCC 4.9+, OS X 10.10+, or XCode 7 users

If none of these situations apply to you, skip to Dependencies and system set-up.

If you have issues building on OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or above, try definining the following environment variable:


If you try to build with GCC 4.5, you will probably find that GCC 4.5 will fail to install on OS X 10.11 and newer, or any older OS X that is using XCode 7 or newer. There are two workarounds:

  • Install a newer version of GCC instead (e.g. brew install gcc48 or brew install gcc5) and follow the instructions for linking libstdc++ below.
  • Install XCode 6, which is available as a free download from the Apple Developer Center.
    • Either install this as your only XCode, or install it additionally to XCode 7 and then switch between them using xcode-select
    • Ensure XCode 6 is active before attempting to install GCC 4.5 and whenever you are compiling DFHack with GCC 4.5.

If you build with a GCC version newer than 4.8, DFHack will probably crash immediately on startup, or soon after. To fix this, you will need to replace hack/libstdc++.6.dylib with a symlink to the libstdc++.6.dylib included in your version of GCC:

cd <path to df>/hack && mv libstdc++.6.dylib libstdc++.6.dylib.orig &&
ln -s [PATH_TO_LIBSTDC++] .

For example, with GCC 5.2.0, PATH_TO_LIBSTDC++ would be:

/usr/local/Cellar/gcc5/5.2.0/lib/gcc/5/libstdc++.6.dylib  # for 64-bit DFHack
/usr/local/Cellar/gcc5/5.2.0/lib/gcc/5/i386/libstdc++.6.dylib  # for 32-bit DFHack

Note: If you build with a version of GCC that requires this, your DFHack build will not be redistributable. (Even if you copy the libstdc++.6.dylib from your GCC version and distribute that too, it will fail on older OS X versions.) For this reason, if you plan on distributing DFHack, it is highly recommended to use GCC 4.5-4.8.

Dependencies and system set-up

  1. Download and unpack a copy of the latest DF

  2. Install Xcode from the Mac App Store

  3. Install the XCode Command Line Tools by running the following command:

    xcode-select --install
  4. Install dependencies

    It is recommended to use Homebrew instead of MacPorts, as it is generally cleaner, quicker, and smarter. For example, installing MacPort’s GCC will install more than twice as many dependencies as Homebrew’s will, and all in both 32-bit and 64-bit variants. Homebrew also doesn’t require constant use of sudo.

    Using Homebrew (recommended):

    brew tap homebrew/versions
    brew install git
    brew install cmake
    brew install gcc48

    Using MacPorts:

    sudo port install gcc48 +universal cmake +universal git-core +universal

    Macports will take some time - maybe hours. At some point it may ask you to install a Java environment; let it do so.

  5. Install Perl dependencies

  • Using system Perl

    • sudo cpan

      If this is the first time you’ve run cpan, you will need to go through the setup process. Just stick with the defaults for everything and you’ll be fine.

      If you are running OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or earlier, good luck! You’ll need to open a separate Terminal window and run:

      sudo ln -s /usr/include/libxml2/libxml /usr/include/libxml
    • install XML::LibXML

    • install XML::LibXSLT

  • In a separate, local Perl install

    Rather than using system Perl, you might also want to consider the Perl manager, Perlbrew.

    This manages Perl 5 locally under ~/perl5/, providing an easy way to install Perl and run CPAN against it without sudo. It can maintain multiple Perl installs and being local has the benefit of easy migration and insulation from OS issues and upgrades.

    See for more details.


  • Get the DFHack source as per section How to get the code, above.

  • Set environment variables

    Homebrew (if installed elsewhere, replace /usr/local with $(brew --prefix)):

    export CC=/usr/local/bin/gcc-4.8
    export CXX=/usr/local/bin/g++-4.8


    export CC=/opt/local/bin/gcc-mp-4.8
    export CXX=/opt/local/bin/g++-mp-4.8

    Change the version numbers appropriately if you installed a different version of GCC.

  • Build dfhack:

    mkdir build-osx
    cd build-osx
    cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE:string=Release -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<path to DF>
    make install # or make -j X install on multi-core systems to compile with X parallel processes

    <path to DF> should be a path to a copy of Dwarf Fortress, of the appropriate version for the DFHack you are building.


On Windows, DFHack replaces the SDL library distributed with DF.


You will need the following:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1, with the C++ language
  • Git
  • CMake
  • Perl with XML::LibXML and XML::LibXSLT
    • It is recommended to install StrawberryPerl, which includes both.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1

DFHack has to be compiled with the Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 SP1 toolchain; later versions won’t work against Dwarf Fortress due to ABI and STL incompatibilities.

At present, the only way to obtain the MSVC C++ 2010 toolchain is to install a full copy of Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1. The free Express version is sufficient.

You can grab it from Microsoft’s site.

You should also install the Visual Studio 2010 SP1 update.

You can confirm whether you have SP1 by opening the Visual Studio 2010 IDE and selecting About from the Help menu. If you have SP1 it will have SP1Rel at the end of the version number, for example: Version 10.0.40219.1 SP1Rel

Use of pre-SP1 releases has been reported to cause issues and is therefore not supported by DFHack. Please ensure you are using SP1 before raising any Issues.

If your Windows Update is configured to receive updates for all Microsoft Products, not just Windows, you will receive the SP1 update automatically through Windows Update (you will probably need to trigger a manual check.)

If not, you can download it directly from this Microsoft Download link.

Additional dependencies: installing with the Chocolatey Package Manager

The remainder of dependencies - Git, CMake and StrawberryPerl - can be most easily installed using the Chocolatey Package Manger. Chocolatey is a *nix-style package manager for Windows. It’s fast, small (8-20MB on disk) and very capable. Think “apt-get for Windows.”

Chocolatey is a preferred way of installing the required dependencies as it’s quicker, less effort and will install known-good utilities guaranteed to have the correct setup (especially PATH).

To install Chocolatey and the required dependencies:

  • Go to in a web browser

  • At the top of the page it will give you the install command to copy

    • Copy the first one, which starts @powershell ...
    • It won’t be repeated here in case it changes in future Chocolatey releases.
  • Open an elevated (Admin) cmd.exe window

    • On Windows 8 and later this can be easily achieved by:
      • right-clicking on the Start Menu, or pressing Win+X.
      • choosing “Command Prompt (Admin)”
    • On earlier Windows: find cmd.exe in Start Menu, right click and choose Open As Administrator.
  • Paste in the Chocolatey install command and hit enter

  • Close this cmd.exe window and open another Admin cmd.exe in the same way

  • Run the following command:

    choco install git cmake.portable strawberryperl -y
  • Close the Admin cmd.exe window; you’re done!

You can now use all of these utilities from any normal cmd.exe window. You only need Admin/elevated cmd.exe for running choco install commands; for all other purposes, including compiling DFHack, you should use a normal cmd.exe (or, better, an improved terminal like Cmder; details below, under Build.)

NOTE: you can run the above choco install command even if you already have Git, CMake or StrawberryPerl installed. Chocolatey will inform you if any software is already installed and won’t re-install it. In that case, please check the PATHs are correct for that utility as listed in the manual instructions below. Or, better, manually uninstall the version you have already and re-install via Chocolatey, which will ensure the PATH are set up right and will allow Chocolatey to manage that program for you in future.

Additional dependencies: installing manually

If you prefer to install manually rather than using Chocolatey, details and requirements are as below. If you do install manually, please ensure you have all PATHs set up correctly.


Some examples:


You can get the win32 installer version from the official site. It has the usual installer wizard. Make sure you let it add its binary folder to your binary search PATH so the tool can be later run from anywhere.

Perl / Strawberry Perl

For the code generation parts you’ll need Perl 5 with XML::LibXML and XML::LibXSLT. Strawberry Perl is recommended as it includes all of the required packages in a single, easy install.

After install, ensure Perl is in your user’s PATH. This can be edited from Control Panel -> System -> Advanced System Settings -> Environment Variables.

The following three directories must be in PATH, in this order:

  • <path to perl>\c\bin
  • <path to perl>\perl\site\bin
  • <path to perl>\perl\bin

Be sure to close and re-open any existing cmd.exe windows after updating your PATH.

If you already have a different version of Perl (for example the one from Cygwin), you can run into some trouble. Either remove the other Perl install from PATH, or install XML::LibXML and XML::LibXSLT for it using CPAN.


There are several different batch files in the build folder along with a script that’s used for picking the DF path.

First, run set_df_path.vbs and point the dialog that pops up at a suitable DF installation which is of the appropriate version for the DFHack you are compiling. The result is the creation of the file DF_PATH.txt in the build directory. It contains the full path to the destination directory. You could therefore also create this file manually - or copy in a pre-prepared version - if you prefer.

Next, run one of the scripts with generate prefix. These create the MSVC solution file(s):

  • all will create a solution with everything enabled (and the kitchen sink).
  • gui will pop up the CMake GUI and let you choose what to build. This is probably what you want most of the time. Set the options you are interested in, then hit configure, then generate. More options can appear after the configure step.
  • minimal will create a minimal solution with just the bare necessities - the main library and standard plugins.

Then you can either open the solution with MSVC or use one of the msbuild scripts:

Building/installing from the command line:

In the build directory you will find several .bat files:

  • Scripts with build prefix will only build DFHack.
  • Scripts with install prefix will build DFHack and install it to the previously selected DF path.
  • Scripts with package prefix will build and create a .zip package of DFHack.

Compiling from the command line is generally the quickest and easiest option. However be aware that due to the limitations of cmd.exe - especially in versions of Windows prior to Windows 10 - it can be very hard to see what happens during a build. If you get a failure, you may miss important errors or warnings due to the tiny window size and extremely limited scrollback. For that reason you may prefer to compile in the IDE which will always show all build output.

Alternatively (or additionally), consider installing an improved Windows terminal such as Cmder. Easily installed through Chocolatey with: choco install cmder -y.

Note for Cygwin/msysgit users: It is also possible to compile DFHack from a Bash command line. This has three potential benefits:

  • When you’ve installed Git and are using its Bash, but haven’t added Git to your path:
    • You can load Git’s Bash and as long as it can access Perl and CMake, you can use it for compile without adding Git to your system path.
  • When you’ve installed Cygwin and its SSH server:
    • You can now SSH in to your Windows install and compile from a remote terminal; very useful if your Windows installation is a local VM on a *nix host OS.
  • In general: you can use Bash as your compilation terminal, meaning you have a decent sized window, scrollback, etc.
    • Whether you’re accessing it locally as with Git’s Bash, or remotely through Cygwin’s SSH server, this is far superior to using cmd.exe.

You don’t need to do anything special to compile from Bash. As long as your PATHs are set up correctly, you can run the same generate- and build/install/package- bat files as detailed above.

Building/installing from the Visual Studio IDE:

After running the CMake generate script you will have a new folder called VC2010. Open the file dfhack.sln inside that folder. If you have multiple versions of Visual Studio installed, make sure you open with Visual Studio 2010.

The first thing you must then do is change the build type. It defaults to Debug, but this cannot be used on Windows. Debug is not binary-compatible with DF. If you try to use a debug build with DF, you’ll only get crashes and for this reason the Windows “debug” scripts actually do RelWithDebInfo builds. After loading the Solution, change the Build Type to either Release or RelWithDebInfo.

Then build the INSTALL target listed under CMakePredefinedTargets.

Building the documentation

DFHack documentation, like the file you are reading now, is created as .rst files, which are in reStructuredText (reST) format. This is a documenation format that has come from the Python community. It is very similar in concept - and in syntax - to Markdown, as found on GitHub and many other places. However it is more advanced than Markdown, with more features available when compiled to HTML, such as automatic tables of contents, cross-linking, special external links (forum, wiki, etc) and more. The documentation is compiled by a Python tool, Sphinx.

The DFHack build process will compile the documentation but this has been disabled by default. You only need to build the docs if you’re changing them, or perhaps if you want a local HTML copy; otherwise, read them easily online at ReadTheDoc’s DFHack hosted documentation.

(Note that even if you do want a local copy, it is certainly not necesesary to compile the documentation in order to read it. Like Markdown, reST documents are designed to be just as readable in a plain-text editor as they are in HTML format. The main thing you lose in plain text format is hyperlinking.)

Enabling documentation building

First, make sure you have followed all the necessary steps for your platform as outlined in the rest of this document.

To compile documentation with DFHack, add the following flag to your cmake command:


For example:

cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE:string=Release -DBUILD_DOCS:bool=ON -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<path to DF>

Alternatively you can use the CMake GUI which allows options to be changed easily.

On Windows you should either use generate-msvc-gui.bat and set the option through the GUI, or else if you want to use an alternate file, such as generate-msvc-all.bat, you will need to edit it to add the flag. Or you could just run cmake on the command line like in other platforms.

Required dependencies

In order to build the documentation, you must have Python with Sphinx version 1.3.1 or later. Both Python 2.x and 3.x are supported.

When installing Sphinx from OS package managers, be aware that there is another program called Sphinx, completely unrelated to documentation management. Be sure you are installing the right Sphinx; it may be called python-sphinx, for example. To avoid doubt, pip can be used instead as detailed below.


Most Linux distributions will include Python as standard.

Check your package manager to see if Sphinx 1.3.1 or later is available, but at the time of writing Ubuntu for example only has 1.2.x.

You can instead install Sphinx with the pip package manager. This may need to be installed from your OS package manager; this is the case on Ubuntu. On Ubuntu/Debian, use the following to first install pip:

sudo apt-get install python-pip

Once pip is available, you can then install the Python Sphinx module with:

pip install sphinx

If you run this as a normal user it will install a local copy for your user only. Run it with sudo if you want a system-wide install. Either is fine for DFHack, however if installing locally do check that sphinx-build is in your path. It may be installed in a directory such as ~/.local/bin/, so after pip install, find sphinx-build and ensure its directory is in your local $PATH.

Mac OS X

OS X has Python 2.7 installed by default, but it does not have the pip package manager.

You can install Homebrew’s Python 3, which includes pip, and then install the latest Sphinx using pip:

brew install python3
pip3 install sphinx

Alternatively, you can simply install Sphinx 1.3.x directly from Homebrew:

brew install sphinx-doc

This will install Sphinx for OS X’s system Python 2.7, without needing pip.

Either method works; if you plan to use Python for other purposes, it might best to install Homebrew’s Python 3 so that you have the latest Python as well as pip. If not, just installing sphinx-doc for OS X’s system Python 2.7 is fine.


Use the Chocolatey package manager to install Python and pip, then use pip to install Sphinx.

Run the following commands from an elevated (Admin) cmd.exe, after installing Chocolatey as outlined in the Windows section:

choco install python pip -y

Then close that Admin cmd.exe, re-open another Admin cmd.exe, and run:

pip install sphinx