Building FlightGear - Debian

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HowTo build on Debian

HowTo build FlightGear 2.2.0 or bleeding edge development version, hereinafter simply called GIT, on GNU/Linux Debian Stable 6.x (Squeeze) and Testing/Unstable (Wheezy).

Even on Debian Oldstable 5.x (Lenny) this guide will work for both, 2.2.0 and GIT. At least until one or more dependencies of the GIT version are changing or beeing added.

If you don't want to make your hands dirty, have a look at Scripted_Compilation_on_Linux_Debian/Ubuntu.

Requirements and Preparations

You need an OpenGL capable graphics including a proper installed driver.

Also a bunch of packages (and some of their dependencies) are required:

  • gcc, g++, make, automake1.9, pkg-config
  • mawk (or gawk)
  • cmake (min. version 2.6.0-5)
  • git, subversion, wget
  • freeglut3-dev, libgl1-mesa-dev, libxrandr-dev
  • libxi-dev, libxmu-dev, libxext-dev
  • libopenal-dev (for Lenny see libopenal), libalut-dev
  • libjpeg62-dev, libtiff4-dev, libpng12-dev
  • libboost1.37-dev (min 1.37, 1.40 available for Lenny on

During installation packages simgear-dev and openscenegraph-dev must not be installed. They can safely be re-installed after compilation.

Build and install

Because we are going to install versions different to the ones in the repositries it is recommended to install FG-2.2.0 and/or GIT in a place independent to the base system such as /usr/local/FG-2.2.0, /opt/FG-2.2.0 or in a subdirectory of your $HOME. I suggest to make it writeable by the user that there is no need to become root for the make install commands. I'll use $prefix as a placeholder for this directory.
Another one will be $srcdir, it stands for the absolute path to the directory which is supposed to keep the folders of the various source codes. So in the following instructions you have to replace these with the local paths or even export them during the process.

Follow the instructions to fetch the sources and the data needed by FlightGear and the commands to build/install each source.

Have in mind that the data is a relatively large download (GIT about 3.5 GB and 2.2.0 300 MB). 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 dummies section.


In some aspects FlightGear's development relies closely on plib and OpenSceneGraph. Therefore the GIT users are encouraged to update them regularly. Not each time one rebuilds FlightGear but from time to time.


Lenny only! The libopenal-dev package in Lenny is too old for fgcom. For FlightGear it does work but not all features (like doppler) are available, so installing an up to date version is recommended anyway.

cd $srcdir
tar xjf openal-soft-1.11.753.tar.bz2
cd openal-soft-1.11.753/build
cmake  -D CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH="$prefix" ..
make install


Latest SVN is recommended, yet package plib1.8.5-dev for Squeeze does work as well.

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


2.2.0 only:

cd $srcdir
svn co -r 12072 OpenSceneGraph

GIT only: Mostly the latest revision from OpenSceneGraph svn does suit. However, sometimes this does not work and as a fallback one can go backwards through the revisions.
At the moment (February 2011) this is the case. Highest reported working revision is 12072, checkout the source as shown above at 2.2.0 only.

cd $srcdir
svn co OpenSceneGraph

2.2.0 and GIT:

mkdir osg-build && cd osg-build
cmake -D CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE="Release" -D CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH="$prefix" $srcdir/OpenSceneGraph
make install

FlightGear and Components

FlighGear relies very closely on its data and SimGear. Therefore it is necessary to update them at one time.

From this point forward when providing the LDFLAGS string, you should use the path specific to your installation. For 32-bit installations this will probably be the path ending in /lib. In a 64-bit installation, this may be the path ending in /lib64, but doesn't have to be. You must verify this for your build, because you do not have to include both paths in the following compilations.


2.2.0 and GIT:

cd $srcdir
git clone git:// simgear
cd simgear

2.2.0 only:

git checkout -b releases/2.2.0 origin/releases/2.2.0

2.2.0 and GIT:
./configure --prefix=$prefix CPPFLAGS=-I$prefix/include LDFLAGS="-L$prefix/lib -L$prefix/lib64"
make install

FlightGear source

2.2.0 and GIT:

cd $srcdir
git clone git:// flightgear
cd flightgear

2.2.0 only:

git checkout -b releases/2.2.0 origin/releases/2.2.0

2.2.0 and GIT:

./configure --prefix=$prefix CPPFLAGS=-I$prefix/include/ LDFLAGS="-L$prefix/lib -L$prefix/lib64"
make install

FlightGear data

2.2.0 only: At the time of writing, 2.2.0 is not yet released, there is no tar archive for the data available. Test pilots for this release are advised to use the release/2.2.0 branch from git. The following URL for wget will be updated, if it is not working, as soon as 2.2.0 is released.

cd $prefix
tar xjf FlightGear-data-2.2.0.tar.bz2

GIT only: For slow/unstable internet connections it is recommended to download the fgdata.bundle instead of cloning the data.
FlightGear's primary git server on gitorious is known to have trouble cloning the data, the mapserver's mirror usually has no problems:

cd $prefix
git clone git://

Trial run

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

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$prefix/lib/:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH
$prefix/bin/fgfs --fg-root=$prefix/fgdata

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 FGo!. Have in mind that fgfs need to find our self compiled libraries and therefore we have to tell the linker (ld) where to find them. That is what the first line here does.

Optional Software

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


To build fgrun one more package is required:

  • libfltk1.1-dev
cd $srcdir
svn co fgrun
cd fgrun/fgrun/
./configure --prefix=$prefix  [CPPFLAGS=-I$prefix/include/ LDFLAGS="-L$prefix/lib -L$prefix/lib64"]
make install


For fgcom unfortunately there is one more dependency which cannot be solved with packages on Lenny, see libopenal.

cd $srcdir
svn co fgcom
cd fgcom/src
make INSTALL_BIN=$prefix/bin INSTALL_DIR=$prefix/fgcom \
   PLIB_PREFIX=$prefix OPENAL_PREFIX=$prefix install