Compiling MinGW-w64 with multilib on Linux

In this post, I'll describe how to manually get a version of MinGW-w64 that (should) supports multilib (i.e. -m32 & -m64, to produce either 32 or 64 bit Windows binaries), as well as static and shared library generation on a Linux host platform, using the current latest official versions of everything. Most of what I'm going to describe is based on the mingw-w64-howto-build guides that one can find here, with fixes added. This guide is intended to be fairly generic, so that you can use it as a base for more specific settings.


First of all, a bit of a warning. If you have anything urgent coming up, if your boss wants something else done by tomorrow or if you have a wife & kids requiring your attention, do not start building a cross compiler manually! You should only ever do so if you can totally waste a couple of days trying to figure out how to fix that £$%^& non working cross compilation process. As you will see soon enough, gcc is a pretty wild beast when it comes to cross compilation, and no matter what you do or which guide you follow, you're pretty much guaranteed that it's going to be anything but a smooth ride. If you don't have time to waste, there are scripts here and there that should take care of taming the beast for you. Of course, these scripts won't usually let you pick up the very latest versions, as we are going to do here, but you can't have it all. Also, of course, I make no guarantee whatsoever that what I'm describing below will actually work for you. You have been warned!

Downloads & Prerequisites

As you should know, there's a bit more to compiling MinGW than just picking up the latest MinGW and gcc. You also need binutils and gcc also relies on a few libraries, so below is the list of everything you'll need, with the latest versions available at the time of this post (2010.07.10):
All of the above are the current very latest official versions.

You will also need some disk space (preferably on a fast "disk" device) in the range of 2 to 3 GB for the whole compilation process. Better create a working directory and download everything here. Everything apart from MinGW itself can be gotten using wget or your preferred method of download, so you should go ahead and pick a copy of everything from the list above. For MinGW, just fire up the following to retrieve the source:
svn co https://mingw-w64.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/mingw-w64 mingw-w64
Another prerequisite that you shouldn't overlook is, since the compilation process is fraught with disappointments and restarts, the fastest and the more cores your CPU is/has, the better. Better try that process on the fastest Linux machine you can get your hands on first, and once you're satisfied that your compilation should work, do it on a slower machine if that's your final target.
For the record, I used a quad core Slackware 13.0 64 bit Linux server, which I'm hoping should be generic enough to have this guide apply to other Linux flavours.

File extraction and directory settings

If you haven't done so by now, you should extract all the tar archives downloaded above into your working directory. Now, a lot of guides will have you go through gmp+mpfr+mpc installation before you can fiddle with gcc, but that's really pointless. The newer gcc sources are designed to pick up and compile gmp, mpfr and mpc if they are available in the gcc source directory. Moreover, I have had trouble getting gcc 4.5.0 recognize the very new mpfr 3.0.0 when compiled as standalone, whereas it doesn't seem to have a problem picking it up from its source directory.
Therefore, here's what you should do once you have extracted everything:
mv mpfr-3.0.0/ gcc-4.5.0/mpfr
mv gmp-4.3.2/ gcc-4.5.0/gmp
mv mpc-0.8.2/ gcc-4.5.0/mpc
Once this is done, this is the content you should have in your working directory:
binutils-2.20.1/  binutils-2.20.1.tar.bz2  gcc-4.5.0/  gcc-4.5.0.tar.bz2  gmp-5.0.1.tar.bz2  mingw-w64/  mpc-0.8.2.tar.gz  mpfr-3.0.0.tar.bz2


For most of the configuration, we will use the defaults, therefore, the binaries and includes will use /usr/local as their base (specific MinGW-w64 subdirectories will be created, don't worry). The only option I'm going to consistently add when running the versions configure is the --disable-nls to try to speed up things a little bit by disabling non Western language support.
Also, you should never compile any part of a cross compiler from within the extracted source directory. If you do, the whole process is bound to fail. Instead, we will create external build directories (eg. binutils-build) in our working space for each source we need to go through.
Also, since I am lucky enough to run on a quad core, I'm going to use the parallel processing option of make (-j) to considerably speed up the whole compilation process. The rule of thumb is to use j# with # being the number of cores you have at your disposal (altough I've also seen people doubling that number). Hence, almost every make command we call below will be affixed with -j4.
Oh yeah, and some people will advise to add a --build=<build-machine-triplet> all over the place, but most of the scripts we use are smart enough to detect cross compilation, so this is not necessary. You might see some warnings about --build not being specified, but you shouldn't worry too much about them.
Finally, gcc compilation is a bit unpredictable, especially if you use -j on make (but even without, weird things happen), so if your make process generates an error for any reason, the first thing to try is make again, to see if things get further. Even without -j, it sometimes takes 2 or 3 passes to get a specific section of the compilation working.


And now the fun begins. Didn't encounter much of any issues with binutils, so the process goes as follows:
mkdir binutils-build; cd binutils-build
../binutils-2.20.1/configure --disable-nls --target=x86_64-w64-mingw32 --enable-targets=x86_64-w64-mingw32,i686-w64-mingw32
make -j4
make install
In the above, the --target indicates that we ultimately want to produce a MinGW compiler that can produce x86_64 binaries (i.e. MinGW-w64), and the --enable-targets with 2 parameters is for multilib support, with 64 (x86_64) and 32 (i686) bit.The end result of all this is that you should get a bunch of x86_64-w64-mingw32 binaries into /usr/local/bin (ar, ld, etc)

MinGW headers

Pay attention here:  This is the headers install => the configure we run is NOT the one from trunk/ but the one from trunk/mingw-w64-headers/. If you try to run the configure from trunk/ at this stage, of course it will fail.
cd ..; mkdir mingw-build; cd mingw-build
../mingw-w64/trunk/mingw-w64-headers/configure --host=x86_64-w64-mingw32
make install
This should copy the MinGW headers into /usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32/include/.

MinGW directories and symlinks

With the above steps, you should end up with a /usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32/ directory that also contains a lib/ directory (which will be used for the 64 bit version of the libraries). If that's not the case you should create it. Now, for multilib, we'll also need a lib32/ directory, and some parts of MinGW expect a few specific directories, like lib64/ or /usr/local/mingw, so we create all that:
ln -s /usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32 /usr/local/mingw
mkdir -p /usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32/lib32
ln -s /usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32/lib /usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32/lib64

Gcc, pass 1

Now things start to get real (and problems start to appear if you don't use the right configure options):
cd ..; mkdir gcc-build; cd gcc-build
../gcc-4.5.0/configure --disable-nls --target=x86_64-w64-mingw32 --enable-languages=c,c++ --with-system-zlib --enable-multilib --enable-version-specific-runtime-libs --enable-shared --enable-fully-dynamic-string
OK, a little clarification about our configure options:
  • --enable-languages=c,c++, because, who the hell compiles 64 bit Windows binaries in Fortran or Ada, and your time is precious (plus, I think the Fortran/Ada source generate some errors). C and C++ are all you need.
  • --with-system-zlib, at least on Slackware, you do want to use that option to avoid an uncorrectable "Link tests are not allowed after GCC_NO_EXECUTABLES" error in the zlib/ directory provided by gcc. And I'm at loss to figure out why gcc does include the sources for zlib in their archive, but not the ones for gmp, mpc, mpfr, as it'd make life a lot easier for everybody.
  • --enable-version-specific-runtime-libs, --enable-fully-dynamic-string, because some people use these and say they are useful.
    [UPDATE: 2010.09.09] According to the MinGW-w64 developers, you should NOT use --enable-version-specific-runtime-libs, as this causes issues. There is currently a long discussion on the MinGW-w64 mailing list about this. Make sure you read it! I may update this guide at some stage
  • --enable-multilib, to have -m32 and -m64 support!
  • --enable-shared, to be able to compile DLLs as well as static libraries.
make all-gcc -j4
Yay, our first compilation error (sadly, won't be the last!). The above fails on
checking for gmp internal files... configure: error: header files gmp-impl.h and longlong.h not found
make: *** [configure-mpfr] Error 1
To fix that error:
cp ../gcc-4.5.0/gmp/gmp-impl.h gmp; cp ../gcc-4.5.0/gmp/longlong.h gmp
After that, the process should complete successfully with:
make all-gcc -j4
make install-gcc
Note that if you get other errors during the build (eg. "Link tests are not allowed after GCC_NO_EXECUTABLES"), just try without -j a couple of times to see if this is really a permanent error, or just gcc screwing with your nerves.

Crt (MinGW-w64)

Nothing fancy here. If you use the latest from svn, things should compile pretty nicely with:
cd ../mingw-build
../mingw-w64/trunk/configure --disable-nls --host=x86_64-w64-mingw32 --enable-lib32
make -j4
make install -j4
I think --enable-lib32 is superfluous, as recent MinGW-w64 seem to be hardwired for multilib by default. Just make sure that 32 and 64 bit are enabled on the configure summary screen.

Gcc, pass 2

"It's right when you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, that the arch collapses."

Thought you were out of the woods? Think again:
cd ../gcc-build
make -j4
will choke on:
/usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32/bin/ld: skipping incompatible /usr/local/x86_64-w64-mingw32/lib/libmingw32.a when searching for -lmingw32
and a whole bunch of similar errors. Obviously, since we're in gcc-build/x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libgcc/ when that happens, ld should be looking in lib32/ rather than lib/.
Now, there's probably a smarter approach, but the easiest way I found to fix this is to:
  1. edit <your_working_dir>/gcc-build/x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libgcc/Makefile
  2. copy the CC line into a CC32 line and replace all the /lib by /lib32
  3. replace GCC_FOR_TARGET = $(CC) with GCC_FOR_TARGET = $(CC32)
Note that just editing the CC line doesn't work (which I guess is due to libtool use)! You need to create a new CC32 variable.
make -j4
You might get a "Link tests are not allowed after GCC_NO_EXECUTABLES" (what the heck does that error actually mean anyway?). If that happens, just retry... until it breaks again with the "skipping incompatible when searching for -lmingw32" error again in <your_working_dir>/gcc-build/x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libssp/
Same trick as above applies, with editing the Makefile, only this time you can edit the CC and CPP variables directly and just replace /lib with /lib32 again.
make -j4
Yup, choked again, this time in <your_working_dir>/gcc-build/x86_64-w64-mingw32/libstdc++-v3/libsupc++/, with:
/bin/sh: ../libtool: No such file or directory
Easiest solution I found:
cp ./x86_64-w64-mingw32/libssp/libtool ./x86_64-w64-mingw32/libstdc++-v3
Then once more:
make -j4
Might get a few errors, that go away on retry, and then:
../../../../gcc-4.5.0/libstdc++-v3/src/atomic.cc:26:21: fatal error: gstdint.h: No such file or directory
Easy to fix:
ln -s /usr/local/mingw/include/stdint.h /usr/local/mingw/include/gstdint.h
make -j4
...and then again:
make[6]: Entering directory `/mnt/hd/src/clean/gcc-build/x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libstdc++-v3'
make[6]: *** No rule to make target `all'.  Stop.
Well, no surprise: there's no makefile in <your_working_dir>/gcc-build/x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libstdc++-v3/! How I fixed it?
rm -r x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libstdc++-v3
ln -s x86_64-w64-mingw32/libstdc++-v3/32 x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libstdc++-v3
make -j4
...and once more, plenty of errors in ./x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libssp/ about lib vs lib32. At least we can't say gcc compilation isn't keeping us entertained. This time, we can edit ./x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libssp/libtool and do a search for -m32. For each line that has -m32, just replace /lib with /lib32.
$ make -j4
YAY!!! Completion at last! Just one final thing to do:
make install -j4
If you managed to make it through that last ordeal, you should now have a fully working MinGW-w64 gcc compiler, capable of producing 32 and 64 bit windows binaries, as well as static or dynamic (DLL) libraries, and using nothing but the latest versions of all the tools. Pretty cool huh?
To compile, just remember to add a --host=x86_64-w64-mingw32 when running configure, and possibly export a CFLAGS=-m32 if you want to produce 32 bit binaries.


  1. Hello Pete,

    Nice post, I try to follow it step by step and every thing was running precisely as explained up to the second Makefile issue which never occurs ("skipping incompatible when searching for -lmingw32" error again in /gcc-build/x86_64-w64-mingw32/32/libssp/)

    I receive the "missing ../libtool" error... and the fix didn't work since I don't even have a "/x86_64-w64-mingw32/libssp/" directory. :-(

    Any idea what's going wrong ?
    I run Ubuntu 10.10 on MacBookPro, and I did the mingw checkout today.

  2. OK. It seems that the build order is now slightly different that at the time of this post. So to solve my issue : I just copy libtool from another location. Other errors came later in a slightly different order... but at the end it seems that everything get compiled.

    Thank you for this amazing post :-)

  3. Glad to hear you sorted your issue out. I'm still planning to update this guide, to make sure it works against all the latest versions of the various components, as well as to apply some of the advice from the MinGW-w64 mailing list, but I don't know when I'll have a chance to do that.

  4. The reason libtool was missing from libstdc++ is because the configure for the 32-bit multidir subdirectory failed, and the script is apparently broken in a way where it will believe it completed if the parent directory completed even if the children do not, so the directory ends up only half-configured. It thereby doesn't bother building the 32-bit libstd++ and doesn't try to install it, so the resulting toolchain cannot build 32-bit C++ programs. I was able to fix my local copy sort of, but it required a ton of screwing around in various files and I have no clue what exactly I did.

  5. My env Ubuntu 10.04 X86_64 server, I was stuck at GCC pass1, I didn't get gmp-impl.h issue, I got
    configure: error: in `/home/stang/tmp/Ming64/gcc-build/gmp':
    configure: error: C preprocessor "/lib/cpp" fails sanity check
    my: gcc: 4.8.1 mingw-w64 V3, binutil2.23.2

    Any hint?

  6. When using the --prefix the MinGW header files will end up where --prefix specifies them to end up (obviously?!?).
    If you get the error:
    Please check if the mingw-w64 header set and the build/host option are set properly
    it might be because the include (containing _mingw_mac.h) directory needs to be copied/moved to the x86_64-w64-mingw32 directory.

    I got pass the MinGW Header step and managed to pass the gcc and all, until I got to the second mingw build.

  7. Another reason for the error:
    Please check if the mingw-w64 header set and the build/host option are set properly

    Check that the environment variable $CC is not set before launching the ./configure for mingw-w64-crt. My CC was set to gcc so it was messing up and instead of picking i686-mingw-w64-gcc, it was falling back to gcc.

  8. Thank your article, throught it , I build gcc4.9.4+mingw32 tool chain for windows under Linux successfully.
    this's my topic share: https://www.cnblogs.com/strollingwolf/articles/10903055.html