Building FlightGear - Debian

Revision as of 16:26, 31 August 2015 by Flughund (Talk | contribs) (update for 3.6)

Revision as of 16:26, 31 August 2015 by Flughund (Talk | contribs) (update for 3.6)

WIP.png Work in progress
This article or section will be worked on in the upcoming hours or days.
Note: Article is being updated for the 3.6 release. At the moment building 3.6 will result in the release candidate for 3.6.0
See history for the latest developments.

HowTo build FlightGear stable (3.6) or bleeding edge development version, hereinafter simply called GIT, on Debian GNU/Linux Stable (Jessie). Users of Testing or Unstable at least have to change package names (version numbering) accordingly.

The meaning of this article is to be a short, checklist like, overview of the specific steps to compile FlightGear and components on Debian. For more detailed information please refer to the main article Building FlightGear on Linux.

If you don't want to get your hands dirty, have a look at Scripted Compilation on Linux Debian/Ubuntu.

Zeichen 144 icon.png For beginners with compiling it is highly recommended to follow this guide step by step. Any modification to most of the here used commands may cause trouble.

Requirements and Preparations

A bunch of packages (as well as some of their dependencies) are required to compile FlightGear:

su -c "apt-get install automake cmake g++ gcc git make sed subversion"

su -c "apt-get install  \
  freeglut3-dev   libboost-dev      libcurl4-openssl-dev  libdbus-1-dev \
  libfltk1.3-dev  libgtkglext1-dev  libjpeg62-turbo-dev   libopenal-dev \
  libopenscenegraph-dev   librsvg2-dev    libxml2-dev"
If you prefer you might replace "libcurl4-openssl-dev" by "libcurl4-gnutls-dev".
If "libjpeg62-turbo-dev" breaks package dependencies, just install one of the other versions' -dev.
Add "libudev-dev" if you need FG's feature -D EVENT_INPUT=ON.
Add "qt5-default" if you intend to use/test FG's internal, yet experimental, Qt5 Launcher.
Zeichen 144 icon.png During installation development packages of libraries which are going to be compiled must not be installed. They can safely be re-installed after compilation. Namely these are "libplib-dev", "libopenthreads-dev" and "simgear-dev". For Wheezy additionally "libboost-dev" and "libopenscenegraph-dev".

Build and install

Because we are going to install versions different to the ones in the Debian repositories, it is recommended to install FlightGear in a place independent of the base system, such as /usr/local/FG-3.6 or $HOME/FG-3.6. This way also has the advantage of easily managing several FlightGear versions, even with different versions of OpenSceneGraph and/or plib, simply by altering the installation prefix. I suggest to make this directory writeable by the user so there is no need to become root for the make -j2 install commands. We'll use $FG_INSTALL_DIR as a placeholder for this directory.
Another placeholder will be $FG_SRC_DIR, it stands for the absolute path to the directory which is supposed to keep the folders of the various source codes. So, in the instructions below, you have to replace these with the local paths or even export them (in every terminal you're using them) for the process:

export FG_SRC_DIR=$HOME/src && mkdir $FG_SRC_DIR

Have in mind that the data is a relatively large download (GIT about 1.5 GiB (required disk space 3.1 GiB) and growing / 3.6 about 1.0 GiB). So, to save some time, it is a good idea to fetch it while building the sources.
For some basic info on git commands for FlightGear users we have a git for laymen section.

For more/advanced cmake options and SimGear's and FlightGear's optional features see the cmake article.

Zeichen 144 icon.png Do not mix instructions for 3.6 and GIT! Not even for fgdata, mixing versions will almost certainly break the installation.


Debian 7.x/Wheezy only!
3.6 and GIT:
Unfortunately version 1.52 or newer is recommended while Wheezy ships with 1.49:

wget -O boost_1_52_0.tar.bz2
tar xjf boost_1_52_0.tar.bz2
cp -R boost_1_52_0/boost $FG_INSTALL_DIR/include/

For cmake to find this alternate libboost version it has to be told where to look for it. Use the following cmake commands instead of the ones given at the respective part.

cmake -D Boost_INCLUDE_DIR="$FG_INSTALL_DIR/include/" \


cmake -D Boost_INCLUDE_DIR="$FG_INSTALL_DIR/include/" \


3.6 and GIT:
Latest SVN is required.

svn co plib.svn
cd plib.svn
sed s/PLIB_TINY_VERSION\ \ 5/PLIB_TINY_VERSION\ \ 6/ -i src/util/ul.h
./configure --prefix=$FG_INSTALL_DIR
make -j2 install


Debian 7.x/Wheezy only!
3.6's optimum version is OSG 3.2.1.
Same for GIT at the time of the release. This might change over time.

3.6 and GIT:

svn co
mkdir build-osg; cd build-osg
cmake -D CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE="Release" -D LIB_POSTFIX="" -D Boost_INCLUDE_DIR="$FG_INSTALL_DIR/include/" \
make -j2 install


3.6 and GIT:

git clone git:// simgear.git

3.6 only:

cd simgear.git
git checkout origin/release/3.6.0

3.6 and GIT:

mkdir $FG_SRC_DIR/build-sg; cd $FG_SRC_DIR/build-sg
make -j2 install

FlightGear source

3.6 and GIT:

git clone git:// flightgear.git

3.6 only:

cd flightgear.git
git checkout origin/release/3.6.0

3.6 and GIT:

mkdir $FG_SRC_DIR/build-fg; cd $FG_SRC_DIR/build-fg
make -j2 install

FlightGear data

3.6 only: Please have a look at the mirror list for a server close to your location.

tar xjf FlightGear-data-3.6.0.tar.bz2

GIT only:

git clone git:// fgdata

Trial run and finishing process

When all the builds are done and the data download has finished it is time for a test run:

$FG_INSTALL_DIR/bin/fgfs --fg-root=$FG_INSTALL_DIR/fgdata
The fgfs binary needs to find our self compiled libraries at runtime and therefore we have to tell the linker (ld) where to find them. That is what the first line here does. You might want to add this line to your $HOME/.bashrc to have this as a persistent setting (may cause problems, if one has installed more than one version of FlightGear!).
Have in mind, the $FG_INSTALL_DIR and $FG_SRC_DIR variables are available for this session only. For future use of these lines, replace them by the real paths.

To avoid the need to give the path to the fgfs command each time, you might consider to create a symlink at a place that is listed in $PATH:

ln -s $FG_INSTALL_DIR/bin/fgfs $HOME/bin/fgfs

For the future, if you want to start FlightGear from command line have a look at fgfsrc, if you prefer a graphical user interface continue with compiling fgrun or check out another launcher.

Optional Software

Zeichen 101 icon.png Some of the below instructions possibly are not up to date. Please feel free to revise them.

Feel free to add the commands to install other FlightGear related projects.


One more Package has to be installed: "libglew1.5-dev"

git clone
cd atlas
./configure --prefix=$FG_INSTALL_DIR --with-fgbase=$FG_INSTALL_DIR/data
make -j2 install
cp -R $FG_SRC_DIR/atlas/src/data/* $FG_INSTALL_DIR/data/Atlas

fgcom 3.0

There is nothing to compile because FGCom 3.0 is compiled with FlightGear.

If you can't compile FlightGear you can download a pre-built binary at

fgcom (FG 2.12 and former)

For fgcom install package "libasound2-dev".

git clone fgcom.git
cd fgcom.git
git checkout -b next origin/next
mkdir $FG_SRC_DIR/build-fgcom; cd $FG_SRC_DIR/build-fgcom
make -j2 install

Create an .alsoftrc file as shown in FGCOM Testing.


Package "fluid" has to be installed.
3.6 and GIT:

git clone git:// fgrun.git

3.6 only:

cd fgrun.git
git checkout origin/release/3.6.0

3.6 and GIT:
On Wheezy only, insert option -D Boost_INCLUDE_DIR="$FG_INSTALL_DIR/include/" right after "cmake".

mkdir $FG_SRC_DIR/build-fgrun; cd $FG_SRC_DIR/build-fgrun
make -j2 install

Execute it:



Zeichen 101 icon.png Obsolete for airport creation, use WorldEditor instead. It is still useful for working on ground networks.
To compile TaxiDraw we need to install packag "wx2.8-headers" (at least, maybe even more than just that one. Please report!

git clone git://
cd taxidraw
./configure --prefix=$FG_INSTALL_DIR
make -j2 install


Automatic Installation

link If you are familiar with "" script from Brisa you can donwload this script: This script is similar to Brisa's one (only usable for Debian/Mint/Ubuntu). This script installs TerraGear (latest version) and terragear-gui.

How to use it?
sh -j 2 ALL
Need some help?

Look at forum topics:

After success installation you can exectute this command line in the terragear/bin directory in order to display every --help for each binary files:

cd terragear/bin && for i in `ls`; do echo ""; echo "################# "$i" ##############"; ./$i --help; done

Basic Installation

To resolve some of the dependencies of TerraGear the GIT sections of steps plib, OpenSceneGraph and SimGear have to be done first. Additionally some packages and their dependencies have to be installed:

su -c "apt-get install \
  libgdal-dev libtiff4-dev libboost-signals-dev libboost-system-dev libboost-thread-dev"

Squeeze users have to compile the CGAL dependency. On Wheezy just install package "libcgal-dev" instead.

tar xjf CGAL-4.0.2.tar.bz2
mkdir $FG_SRC_DIR/build-cgal; cd $FG_SRC_DIR/build-cgal
make -j2 install

Compile TerraGear:

git clone git://
mkdir $FG_SRC_DIR/build-tg; cd $FG_SRC_DIR/build-tg
make -j2 install

WorldEditor (WED)

Because this is the same for all Linux distributions the instructions are not listed here separately. Please refer to our lead WED article.

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