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Tutorial : cross-compile a C/GTK+3 program from Linux to Windows

Objectives : compile a C/GTK+3 application under Linux, and produce a valid Windows© binary.

We have a C application using GTK+ 3 as its graphical toolkit :

As the GTK+ 3 Windows binaries now have an official distribution, we will be able to use to create a Windows version of our application, without modifiying the source code nor having a Windows box available.


A Linux Debian or Ubuntu distribution.

1) Install the compilation toolchain

- Install the GCC compiler for Windows (namely MinGW) :

apt-get install mingw32

- Download the latest all-in-one bundle ZIP archive directly from the official website (here's a direct link for impatients...).

(ps : Create a folder named "gtk3-win32" where you want, put the ZIP archive therein and extract it with :

- Adapt GTK+ to its location :
In a terminal, move to the "gtk3-win32" folder you just created. If you extracted it to "/opt/gtk3-win32" e.g. :
cd /opt/gtk3-win32
then do :
find -name '*.pc' | while read pc; do sed -e "s@^prefix=.*@prefix=$PWD@" -i "$pc"; done

2) Compile

- We will tell "pkg-config" to locate GTK+ libraries in our custom path. If you extracted to "/opt/gtk3-win32" e.g. :
export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/opt/gtk3-win32/lib/pkgconfig

We are ready to compile an sample C source ! Let's use a command in this style :

i586-mingw32msvc-gcc source.c -o executable.exe `pkg-config --cflags --libs gtk+-3.0`

A new executable should have been created if everything went well.
It won't run on our Linux system, because it's targeting Windows !

3) Release

- Create a folder containing the binary and the Windows .dll files. If you extracted to "/opt/gtk3-win32" e.g. :
mkdir ~/distri
cp executable.exe ~/distri
cp /opt/gtk3-win32/bin/*.dll ~/distri

- Here we go ! Transfer this folder to a Windows box. Double-click on the executable and...

Well done !


Thanks for posting this hint. I'd never thought of modifying the .pc files with an sed script. I'm working on a cross compiled Gtk3 project where that turns out to be a very useful addition to the toolbox. If you could provide a link to your gtk test program source, it would save some folks some effort. On my Ubuntu 13.10 (x86_64) system the compiler is 'i686-w64-mingw32-gcc' . Even more importantly, the test program I compiled runs well using Wine.

Hi Cecil,

Good remark, thanks. Here is a simple sample ; I've put it in the article, too.

Salut Tarnyko,

I followed your tut step by step. Everthing seems to be so smooth but in during comilation i got this compiler error:

#$ i586-mingw32msvc-gcc /home/spivvi/Desktop/test.c -o test.exe `pkg-config --cflags --libs gtk+-3.0`
i586-mingw32msvc-gcc: unrecognized option '-pthread'
In file included from /usr/include/glib-2.0/glib.h:108,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gdk/gdkconfig.h:13,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gdk/gdk.h:30,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gtk/gtk.h:30,
from /home/spivvi/Desktop/test.c:1:
/usr/include/glib-2.0/glib/deprecated/gthread.h:123:21: error: pthread.h: No such file or directory
In file included from /usr/include/glib-2.0/glib.h:108,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gdk/gdkconfig.h:13,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gdk/gdk.h:30,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gtk/gtk.h:30,
from /home/spivvi/Desktop/test.c:1:
/usr/include/glib-2.0/glib/deprecated/gthread.h:133: error: expected specifier-qualifier-list before ‘pthread_mutex_t’
/usr/include/glib-2.0/glib/deprecated/gthread.h:162: error: expected specifier-qualifier-list before ‘pthread_t’
In file included from /usr/include/glib-2.0/gio/gio.h:47,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gdk/gdkapplaunchcontext.h:28,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gdk/gdk.h:32,
from /usr/include/gtk-3.0/gtk/gtk.h:30,
from /home/spivvi/Desktop/test.c:1:

My test.c file contains this:

void main (int argc, char *argv[]) {
GtkWidget *window;
gtk_init (&argc, &argv);
window = gtk_window_new (GTK_WINDOW_TOPLEVEL);
gtk_window_set_title (GTK_WINDOW (window), "Hello World");
gtk_widget_show (window);
gtk_main ();

I'm on Ubuntu12.04LTS.

dpkg -l | grep -i pthread
ii libevent-pthreads-2.0-5 2.0.16-stable-1 Asynchronous event notification library (pthreads)
ii libpthread-stubs0 0.3-3 pthread stubs not provided by native libc
ii libpthread-stubs0-dev 0.3-3 pthread stubs not provided by native libc, development files
ii libpthread-workqueue-dev 0.8.2-1 thread pool library (development files)
ii libpthread-workqueue0 0.8.2-1 thread pool library

Do you have any clue on this issue?
Thanks splivv.


Try on a newer Ubuntu version, there are known issues with pthread in old MinGW versions


Thank you for the tutorial! I'll use it in our build bot :-)

If you want native looking anti-aliased fonts, add this to etc\gtk-3.0\settings.ini:

gtk-font-name = Segoe UI 9
gtk-xft-rgba = rgb


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