Building DOSBox with MinGW

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DOSBox is a complicated project. This document aims to provide a step by step description of how to use the MinGW developement environment to successfully build DOSBox. An alternative is to use Microsoft Visual Studio.

This page will guide you through setting up MinGW to compile a current (SVN/CVS) version of DOSBox. Because of updates to compilers and libraries, this guide will not work with the 0.74 (the last official release, which is currently over 6 years old) source files.

An alternative guide is also available on the forums:

Additional build setup notes may be found in the latest INSTALL file:

Installing MinGW

  • Download mingw-get-setup.exe from
  • Run the installer, choosing the defaults
  • Once the MinGW Installation Manager application starts, select
    • mingw-developer-toolkit (msys-base should be automatically added)
    • mingw32-base
    • mingw32-gcc-g++
  • On the installation menu, apply changes, and confirm that you want to apply the changes

The installation manager is going to download a bunch of files, and at the end, start installing them. Once this is done, you can close the dialog box as well as the installation manager.

Well done, MinGW is now installed! Let's start it up.

  • Browse to C:\MinGW\msys\1.0
  • Run MSYS.BAT

This will start up a DOS prompt like screen, lets mount the base path

 mount 'c:\MinGW' /mingw

You have now completed this section, lets move on to adding the SDL libraries to MinGW.

Adding the SDL libraries to MinGW

  • Download the pre compiled SDL development libraries from here
  • Copy the downloaded file to your MSYS home folder, it's going to be something like C:\MinGW\msys\1.0\home\Administrator
  • Switch back to the MSYS command prompt we started earlier
  • Lets extract the downloaded files
 tar xvf SDL-devel-1.2.15-mingw32.tar.gz
  • And now add the files to MinGW
 cd SDL-1.2.15
 make install-sdl prefix=/mingw
 cd ..

Cool, the SDL libraries have been added to MinGW, onto the next section.

Adding Direct Draw support to DOSBox (Optional)

If you want to give DOSBox the option to use the DDRAW output option, then we need to add a couple of extra libraries to MinGW

 tar xvf directx-devel.tar.gz -C /mingw

Adding networking support to DOSBox (Optional)

These steps show you how to add the SDL_net libraries to MinGW, which enable networking and modem for DOSBox. If you aren't going to be using DOSBox for multi player games, then you can probably skip this step.

 tar xvf SDL_net-1.2.8.tar.gz
  • Lets configure the libraries
 cd SDL_net-1.2.8
 ./configure --prefix=/mingw
  • SDLnet.c will have to be modified slightly to compile. Open it with a text editor and add the following #include near the top of the file:
 #include <winerror.h>
  • And now compile them
  • And then install them (copy the files)
 make install
 cd ..

Adding screenshot support (Optional)

This one is a bit tricky because it relies on two libraries, zlib (libpng needs these libraries), and libpng. We are also going to be compiling the libraries statically to keep external DLL's to a minimum.

 tar xvf zlib-1.2.8.tar.xz
  • Lets build the static library
 cd zlib-1.2.8
 make -f win32/Makefile.gcc
  • And now copy the files to /mingw
 cp libz.a /mingw/lib/
 cp zlib.h zconf.h /mingw/include/
 cd ..

Cool, that wasn't too hard, onto libpng

 tar xvf libpng-1.6.18.tar.xz
  • Configure the library
 cd libpng-1.6.18
 ./configure --disable-shared --prefix=/mingw
  • There is currently a problem with the configure script that will need to be manually resolved. Open pnglibconf.h with a text editor, and you will find several #define lines near the bottom that have been erroneously split into two lines. This can be fixed by adding a backslash to the end of the affected lines:
 209: #define PNG_ZLIB_VERNUM \
 215: #define PNG_Z_DEFAULT_STRATEGY \
  • And now to compile and install the files
 make install
 cd ..

Adding support for compressed audio on diskimages (Optional)

This is for cue/bin cdrom images with compressed (ogg) audio tracks. We will be adding the libvorbis, libogg, and sdl_sound libraries.

 tar xvf libogg-1.3.2.tar.gz
  • Configure the library, disabling shared library files
 cd libogg-1.3.2
 ./configure --disable-shared --prefix=/mingw
  • Compile and install the library files
 make install
 cd ..
 tar xvf libvorbis-1.3.5.tar.gz
  • Configure the library, disabling shared library files
 cd libvorbis-1.3.5
 ./configure --disable-shared --prefix=/mingw
  • Compile and install the library files
 make install
 cd ..
 tar xvf SDL_sound-1.0.3.tar.gz
  • Configure and compile
 cd SDL_sound-1.0.3
 ./configure --disable-shared --prefix=/mingw LIBS="-lvorbisfile -lvorbis -logg"
 make install
 cd ..

Enabling the debugger (You probably don't want this)

The debugger is mainly for developers of DOSBox, so they can find out why a game isn't working.

 tar xvf PDCurses-3.4.tar.gz
  • Compile the library
 cd PDCurses-3.4/win32
 make -f gccwin32.mak DLL=N
  • And now copy the files to your /mingw folders
 cp pdcurses.a /mingw/lib/libpdcurses.a
 cd ..
 cp curses.h panel.h /mingw/include/
 cd ..

Compiling DOSBox

  • If using the snapshot, copy that file to your MSYS home folder, and extract the file
 tar xvf dosboxsvn.tgz
  • Let's configure DOSBox, and tell it to use the static C library (-static-libgcc) and C++ library (-static-libstdc++) and stripping the final EXE of debug information (-s)
 cd dosbox
 ./configure --enable-core-inline LDFLAGS="-static-libgcc -static-libstdc++ -s"
  • For SDL_sound support, you have to extra some extra parameters so that the configure command knows where to find the audio library files (LIBS="-lvorbisfile.....)
 ./configure --enable-core-inline LDFLAGS="-static-libgcc -static-libstdc++ -s" LIBS="-lvorbisfile -lvorbis -logg"
  • If you want to enable debugging (you probably don't)
 ./configure --enable-core-inline LDFLAGS="-static-libgcc -static-libstdc++ -s" LIBS="-lvorbisfile -lvorbis -logg" --enable-debug
  • And now for compiling DOSBox
  • The last step is to gather all the files together in a folder
    • Create a folder with a name of your choosing
    • Copy the dosbox.exe file located under the dosbox\src folder, e.g. C:\MinGW\msys\1.0\home\Administrator\dosbox\src to the folder you created
    • Copy the SDL.dll file located under SDL-1.2.15\bin, e.g. C:\MinGW\msys\1.0\home\Administrator\SDL-1.2.15\bin to the folder you created
    • Optionally, copy the SDL_net.dll file located under SDL_net-1.2.8\.libs, e.g. C:\MinGW\msys\1.0\home\Administrator\SDL_net-1.2.8\.libs to the folder you created
  • Start up DOSBox, and see if it works!