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HOWTO Understanding effects of build directory options on a relocatable MinGW GCC default's paths

1 Summury and purpose of this document

Although there are nor big TODO remaining for this document, some updates are still pending

HOWTO Specify the Location of Libraries for use with MinGW

FIXME: Page under construction; some value here now, but not yet complete.

I will add to this as time permits; please bear with me. My intent is to offer advice, complementing the information relating to include file search paths, on circumventing the limitations of MinGW's GCC when installing, and subsequently linking with, user added function libraries.

Install MinGW

For instructions on how to quickly download and install MinGW (including GCC compilers for C, C++, Fortran, Java, and Ada, binutils, Windows API, runtime, and make), please refer to the instructions for Getting Started with MinGW. For more detailed instructions, read HOWTO Install the MinGW GCC Compiler Suite.

HOWTO Install the MinGW (GCC) Compiler Suite

Automated Installer

If you are new to MinGW, see the MinGW Getting Started instructions to use the automated GUI or manual CLI (Command Line Interface) installers. What follows below are instructions for a very "manual" download, typically only attempted by more experienced users.


MSYS is a collection of GNU utilities such as bash, make, gawk and grep to allow building of applications and programs which depend on traditionally UNIX tools to be present. It is intended to supplement MinGW and the deficiencies of the cmd shell.

An example would be building a library that uses the autotools build system. Users will typically run "./configure" then "make" to build it. The configure shell script requires a shell script interpreter which is not present on Windows systems, but provided by MSYS.

Getting Started

MinGW Installation Notes

MinGW may have problems with paths containing spaces, and if not, usually other programs used with MinGW will experience problems with such paths. Thus, we strongly recommend that you do not install MinGW in any location with spaces in the path name reference. You should avoid installing into any directory or subdirectory having names like "Program Files" or "My Documents", etc.

No version numbering convention exists for MinGW as a whole. Each package has its own version number, and the installer version number does not correlate, in any way, with the version number of any individual package which it installs.

The preferred installation target directory is C:\MinGW

The preferred installation method is using the automated installer tool, as described below. While a manual installation is possible, we do not recommend it, unless you have a very old version of MS-Windows which is unable to run the graphical tool. Instructions for manual installation are provided below, if you really want (or need) to resort to it.

After installation you will need to perform some additional tasks yourself to ensure your MinGW applications will run. Most importantly, you will need to make changes to your PATH environment variable. Be careful: there are two PATH variables which can be changed, and changing the wrong one can have significant consequences. Instructions for changing the correct PATH variable are provided below.

You will also need to ensure you specify the correct installation target directory to the MinGW environment. While it is possible to install MinGW to a location other than C:\MinGW (e.g. on a different drive), you must ensure that the MinGW environment knows where it is located. Instructions for doing this are also provided below.

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