Version: 3.2.5
wxWidgets for Motif installation


If you experience problems installing, please re-read these instructions and other related files (todo.txt, bugs.txt and osname.txt for your platform if it exists) carefully before mailing wx-users or the author. Preferably, try to fix the problem first and then send a patch to the author.

When sending bug reports tell us what version of wxWidgets you are using (including the beta) and what compiler on what system. One example: wxMotif 2.8.1, gcc 2.95.4, Redhat 6.1

First steps

  • Prerequisites: Motif 1.2 or above, or Lesstif. Motif 2.0 and above may also be suitable.
  • Download wxX11-x.y.z.tgz, where x.y.z is the version number. (wxMotif is included in the wxX11 distribution). Download documentation in a preferred format, such as or
  • Make a directory such as ~/wx and unarchive the files into this directory.
  • It is recommended that you install bison and flex; using yacc and lex may require tweaking of the makefiles. You also need libXpm (see comments in the Notes section below) if you want to have XPM support in wxWidgets (recommended).
  • You can now use configure to build wxWidgets and the samples.

    Using configure is the only way to build the library. If it doesn't work for you for whatever reason, please report it (together with detailed information about your platform and the (relevant part of) contents of config.log file).

Compiling using configure

The simplest case

If you compile wxWidgets on Linux for the first time and don't like to read install instructions just do (in the base dir):

> ./configure --with-motif
> make
> su <type root password>
> make install
> ldconfig
> exit

Afterwards you can continue with

> make
> su <type root password>
> make install
> ldconfig
> exit

If you want to remove wxWidgets on Unix you can do this:

> su <type root password>
> make uninstall
> ldconfig
> exit

The expert case

If you want to do some more serious cross-platform programming with wxWidgets, such as for GTK and Motif, you can now build two complete libraries and use them concurrently. For this end, you have to create a directory for each build of wxWidgets - you may also want to create different versions of wxWidgets and test them concurrently. Most typically, this would be a version configured with –enable-debug and one without.

For building three versions (one GTK, one Motif and a debug version of the GTK source) you'd do this:

mkdir buildmotif
cd buildmotif
../configure --with-motif
cd ..

mkdir buildgtk
cd buildgtk
../configure --with-gtk
cd ..

mkdir buildgtkd
cd buildgtkd
../configure --with-gtk --enable-debug
cd ..

Note that since wxWidgets-2.6.0 you can install all those libraries concurrently, you just need to pass the appropriate flags when using them.

The simplest errors

You get errors during compilation: The reason is that you probably have a broken compiler. GCC 2.8 and earlier versions and egcs are likely to cause problems due to incomplete support for C++ and optimisation bugs. Best to use GCC 2.95 or later.

You get immediate segfault when starting any sample or application: This is either due to having compiled the library with different flags or options than your program - typically you might have the __WXDEBUG__ option set for the library but not for your program - or due to using a compiler with optimisation bugs.

The simplest program

Now create your super-application and compile anywhere with

g++ myfoo.cpp `wx-config --libs --cxxflags` -o myfoo


The Unix variants of wxWidgets use GNU configure. If you have problems with your make use GNU make instead.

If you have general problems with installation, see the wxWidgets website at

for newest information. If you still don't have any success, please send a bug report to one of our mailing lists (see my homepage) INCLUDING A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR SYSTEM AND YOUR PROBLEM, SUCH AS YOUR VERSION OF MOTIF, WXMOTIF, WHAT DISTRIBUTION YOU USE AND WHAT ERROR WAS REPORTED. I know this has no effect, but I tried...

GUI libraries

wxWidgets/Motif requires the Motif library to be installed on your system. As an alternative, you may also use the free library "lesstif" which implements most of the Motif API without the licence restrictions of Motif.

You can get the newest version of the Lesstif from the lesstif homepage at:

Additional libraries

wxWidgets/Motif requires a thread library and X libraries known to work with threads. This is the case on all commercial Unix-Variants and all Linux-Versions that are based on glibc 2 except RedHat 5.0 which is broken in many aspects. As of writing this, virtually all Linux distributions have correct glibc 2 support.

You can disable thread support by running

./configure --disable-threads
su <type root password>
make install

Building wxMotif on Cygwin

The normal build instructions should work fine on Cygwin. The one difference with Cygwin is that when using the "--enable-shared" configure option (which is the default) the API is exported explicitly using __declspec(dllexport) rather than all global symbols being available.

This shouldn't make a difference using the library and should be a little more efficient. However if an export attribute has been missed somewhere you will see linking errors. If this happens then you can work around the problem by setting LDFLAGS=-Wl,–export-all-symbols. Please also let us know about it on the wx-dev mailing list.

Create your configuration


./configure [options]

If you want to use system's C and C++ compiler, set environment variables CXX and CC as

% setenv CC cc
% setenv CXX CC
% ./configure options

to see all the options please use:

./configure --help

The basic philosophy is that if you want to use different configurations, like a debug and a release version, or use the same source tree on different systems, you have only to change the environment variable OSTYPE. (Sadly this variable is not set by default on some systems in some shells - on SGI's for example). So you will have to set it there. This variable HAS to be set before starting configure, so that it knows which system it tries to configure for.

Configure will complain if the system variable OSTYPE has not been defined. And Make in some circumstances as well...

General options

Given below are the commands to change the default behaviour, i.e. if it says "--disable-threads" it means that threads are enabled by default.

Many of the configure options have been thoroughly tested in wxWidgets snapshot 6, but not yet all (ODBC not).

You have to add –with-motif on platforms, where Motif is not the default (on Linux, configure will default to GTK).

--with-motif             Use either Motif or Lesstif
                         Configure will look for both.

The following options handle the kind of library you want to build.

--disable-threads       Compile without thread support. Threads
                        support is also required for the
                        socket code to work.

--disable-shared        Do not create shared libraries.

--enable-monolithic     Build wxWidgets as single library instead
                        of as several smaller libraries (which is
                        the default since wxWidgets 2.5.0).

--disable-optimise      Do not optimise the code. Can
                        sometimes be useful for debugging
                        and is required on some architectures
                        such as Sun with gcc 2.8.X which
                        would otherwise produce segvs.

--enable-profile        Add profiling info to the object
            files. Currently broken, I think.

--enable-no_rtti        Enable compilation without creation of
                        C++ RTTI information in object files.
            This will speed-up compilation and reduce
            binary size.

--enable-no_exceptions  Enable compilation without creation of
                        C++ exception information in object files.
            This will speed-up compilation and reduce
            binary size. Also fewer crashes during the
            actual compilation...

--enable-permissive     Enable compilation without checking for strict
                        ANSI conformance.  Useful to prevent the build
                        dying with errors as soon as you compile with
                        Solaris' ANSI-defying headers.

--enable-mem_tracing    Add built-in memory tracing.

--enable-dmalloc        Use the dmalloc memory debugger.

--enable-debug      Equivalent to --enable-debug_info plus

--enable-debug_info Add debug info to object files and
                        executables for use with debuggers
            such as gdb (or its many frontends).

--enable-debug_flag Define __DEBUG__ and __WXDEBUG__ when
                        compiling. This enable wxWidgets' very
            useful internal debugging tricks (such
            as automatically reporting illegal calls)
            to work. Note that program and library
            must be compiled with the same debug

Feature Options

Many of the configure options have been thoroughly tested in wxWidgets snapshot 6, but not yet all (ODBC not).

When producing an executable that is linked statically with wxGTK you'll be surprised at its immense size. This can sometimes be drastically reduced by removing features from wxWidgets that are not used in your program. The most relevant such features are

--without-libpng    Disables PNG image format code.

--without-libjpeg   Disables JPEG image format code.

--without-libtiff       Disables TIFF image format code.

--without-expat         Disable XML classes based on Expat parser.

--disable-threads       Disables threads. Will also
                        disable sockets.

--disable-sockets       Disables sockets.

--disable-dnd           Disables Drag'n'Drop.

--disable-clipboard     Disables Clipboard.

--disable-streams       Disables the wxStream classes.

--disable-file          Disables the wxFile class.

--disable-textfile      Disables the wxTextFile class.

--disable-intl          Disables the internationalisation.

--disable-validators    Disables validators.

--disable-accel         Disables accel.

Apart from disabling certain features you can very often "strip" the program of its debugging information resulting in a significant reduction in size.

Please see the output of "./configure --help" for comprehensive list of all configurable options.


The following must be done in the base directory (e.g. ~/wxMotif or ~/wxWin or whatever)

Now the makefiles are created (by configure) and you can compile the library by typing:


make yourself some coffee, as it will take some time. On an old Pentium 200 around 40 minutes. During compilation, you may get a few warning messages depending in your compiler.

If you want to be more selective, you can change into a specific directory and type "make" there.

Then you may install the library and its header files under /usr/local/include/wx and /usr/local/lib respectively. You have to log in as root (i.e. run "su" and enter the root password) and type

    make install

You can remove any traces of wxWidgets by typing

    make uninstall

If you want to save disk space by removing unnecessary object-files:

 make clean

in the various directories will do the work for you.

Creating a new Project

  1. The first way uses the installed libraries and header files automatically using wx-config
        g++ myfoo.cpp `wx-config --libs` `wx-config --cxxflags` -o myfoo
    Using this way, a make file for the minimal sample would look
    like this
        CXX = g++
        minimal: minimal.o
            $(CXX) -o minimal minimal.o `wx-config --libs`
        minimal.o: minimal.cpp
            $(CXX) `wx-config --cxxflags` -c minimal.cpp -o minimal.o
            rm -f *.o minimal
    If your application uses only some of wxWidgets libraries, you can
    specify required libraries when running wx-config. For example,
    `wx-config --libs=html,core` will only output link command to link
    with libraries required by core GUI classes and wxHTML classes. See
    the manual for more information on the libraries.
  2. The other way creates a project within the source code directories of wxWidgets. For this endeavour, you'll need GNU autoconf version 2.14 and add an entry to your to the bottom of the script and run autoconf and configure before you can type make.

Further notes by Julian Smart

  • You may find the following script useful for compiling wxMotif, especially if installing from zips (which don't preserve file permissions). Make this script executable with the command chmod a+x makewxmotif.
      # makewxmotif
      # Sets permissions (in case we extracted wxMotif from zip files)
      # and makes wxMotif.
      # Call from top-level wxWidgets directory.
      # Note that this uses standard (but commonly-used) configure options;
      # if you're feeling brave, you may wish to compile with threads:
      # if they're not supported by the target platform, they will be disabled
      # anyhow
      # -- Julian Smart
      chmod a+x configure config.sub config.guess
      ./configure --with-shared --with-motif --with-debug_flag --with-debug_info --enable-debug --without-threads --without-sockets --without-odbc
    This script will build wxMotif using shared libraries. If you want to build a static wxWidgets library, use –disable-shared.


  • Solaris compilation with gcc: if the compiler has problems with the variable argument functions, try putting the gcc fixinclude file paths early in the include path.
  • If you operator-related compile errors or strange memory problems (for example in deletion of string arrays), set wxUSE_GLOBAL_MEMORY_OPERATORS and wxUSE_MEMORY_TRACING to 0 in setup.h, and recompile.
  • If you get an internal compiler error in gcc, turn off optimisations.
  • Problems with XtDestroyWidget crashing in ~wxWindow have been reported on SGI IRIX 6.4. This has not yet been resolved, so any advice here would be very welcome. See bugs.txt for a possible temporary workaround (comment out the final XtDestroyWidget from ~wxWindow in window.cpp).
  • Some compilers, such as Sun C++, may give a lot of warnings about virtual functions being hidden. Please ignore these, it's correct C++ syntax. If you find any incorrect instances, though, such as a missing 'const' in an overridden function, please let us know.

Other Notes

  • Using configure will create a release build of the library by default: it's recommended to use –enable-debug configure switch while developing your application. To compile in non-debug mode, use –disable-debug configure switch.