The following instructions will help you build Looking Glass from source code. Before attempting this, you should have a basic understanding of how to use the shell.


Visit the Looking Glass Download Page, and download the stable version (recommended). You can also download a bleeding-edge version, or the latest RC version during a Release Candidate cycle.

Developers can clone the source code repo with git.

git clone --recursive


Please only clone from Git if you’re a developer, and know what you’re doing. Looking Glass requires git submodules that must be setup and updated when building. Source code downloads from the website come bundled with the necessary submodules.


When using the latest bleeding-edge client version, you MUST download and install the corresponding host application.


Installing build dependencies

These required libraries and tools should be installed first.


The below list of dependencies is for Debian. A community maintained list of dependencies for other distributions for the current stable version of Looking Glass is maintained on the wiki at:

Required dependencies

  • cmake

  • gcc, g++ | clang

  • libegl-dev

  • libgl-dev

  • libgles-dev

  • libfontconfig-dev

  • libgmp-dev

  • libspice-protocol-dev

  • make

  • nettle-dev

  • pkg-config

May be disabled

These dependencies are required by default, but may be omitted if their feature is disabled when running cmake.

  • Disable with cmake -DENABLE_BACKTRACE=no ..

    • binutils-dev

  • Disable with cmake -DENABLE_X11=no ..

    • libx11-dev

    • libxfixes-dev

    • libxi-dev

    • libxinerama-dev

    • libxss-dev

    • libxcursor-dev

    • libxpresent-dev

  • Disable with cmake -DENABLE_WAYLAND=no ..

    • libxkbcommon-dev

    • libwayland-bin

    • libwayland-dev

    • wayland-protocols

  • Disable with cmake -DENABLE_PIPEWIRE=no ..

    • libpipewire-0.3-dev

    • libsamplerate0-dev

  • Disable with cmake -DENABLE_PULSEAUDIO=no ..

    • libpulse-dev

    • libsamplerate0-dev

Fetching with APT

You can fetch these dependencies with the following command:

apt-get install binutils-dev cmake fonts-dejavu-core libfontconfig-dev \
gcc g++ pkg-config libegl-dev libgl-dev libgles-dev libspice-protocol-dev \
nettle-dev libx11-dev libxcursor-dev libxi-dev libxinerama-dev \
libxpresent-dev libxss-dev libxkbcommon-dev libwayland-dev wayland-protocols \
libpipewire-0.3-dev libpulse-dev libsamplerate0-dev

You may omit some dependencies if you disable the feature which requires them when running cmake. (See May be disabled)


If you’ve downloaded the source code as a zip file, simply unzip and cd into the new directory. If you’ve cloned the repo with git, then cd into the LookingGlass directory.

mkdir client/build
cd client/build
cmake ../

This will build the looking-glass-client binary, which is used to display frames from the guest.

You can then continue installing Looking Glass, or run it directly from the build directory:



For users running GNOME on Wayland, you may want to enable libdecor when building.


For details, see the FAQ.


The most common compile error is related to backtrace support. Try disabling this when building:


If you disable this and need support for a crash, use gdb to obtain a backtrace manually.


These instructions help you build the host yourself from the downloaded source code.


Building the host from source code is not recommended for most purposes, and should only be attempted by users who are prepared to handle issues on their own. Please download the pre-built binary installers from for stability, and increased support.


The pre-built binaries also include NvFBC support built in, which is only available to current Nvidia SDK license holders, and cannot be enabled when building the host without also having a license.

For Windows on Windows

  1. Download and install msys2 x86_64 from following the setup instructions provided

  2. Run the MSYS2 shell

  3. Download build dependencies with pacman

pacman -Fy
pacman -Sy git make mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc mingw-w64-x86_64-cmake
  1. Change directory to the source tree with cd

  2. Configure the project and build it

mkdir host/build
cd host/build
cmake -G "MSYS Makefiles" ..

For Linux on Linux

Make a host/build directory, then run cmake

mkdir host/build
cd host/build
cmake ..

For Windows cross compiling on Linux

Like For Linux on Linux, but using the mingw64 toolchain to cross-compile a Windows .exe file.

mkdir host/build
cd host/build
cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=../toolchain-mingw64.cmake ..

Building the Windows installer

  1. Build the host on Linux.

  2. Install nsis

apt-get install nsis
  1. Use makensis to build the installer.

cd host/build/platform/Windows
makensis installer.nsi

This will build looking-glass-host-setup.exe under host/build/platform/Windows/looking-glass-host-setup.exe