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Once you have downloaded the source code, you can build Lite XL yourself using Meson. In addition, the script can be used to compile Lite XL and create an OS-specific package for Linux, Windows or macOS.

The following libraries are required:

  • freetype2
  • SDL2

The following libraries are optional:

  • libagg
  • Lua 5.2

If they are not found, they will be downloaded and compiled by Meson. Otherwise, if they are present, they will be used to compile Lite XL.

Build Script

If you compile Lite XL yourself, it is recommended to use the script

bash -h

The script will run Meson and create a tar compressed archive with the application or, for Windows, a zip file. Lite XL can be easily installed by unpacking the archive in any directory of your choice.

On Windows two packages will be created, one called “portable” using the “data” folder next to the executable and the other one using a unix-like file layout. Both packages works correctly. The one with unix-like file layout is meant for people using a unix-like shell and the command line.

Please note that there aren’t any hard-coded directories in the executable, so that the package can be extracted and used in any directory.


When performing the meson setup command you may enable the -Dportable=true option to specify whether files should be installed as in a portable application.

If portable is enabled, Lite XL is built to use a data directory placed next to the executable. Otherwise, Lite XL will use unix-like directory locations. In this case, the data directory will be $prefix/share/lite-xl and the executable will be located in $prefix/bin. $prefix is determined when the application starts as a directory such that $prefix/bin corresponds to the location of the executable.

The user directory does not depend on the portable option and will always be $HOME/.config/lite-xl. $HOME is determined from the corresponding environment variable. As a special case on Windows the variable $USERPROFILE will be used instead.


On Debian-based systems the required libraries and Meson can be installed using the following commands:

# To install the required libraries:
sudo apt install libfreetype6-dev libsdl2-dev

# To install Meson:
sudo apt install meson
# or pip3 install --user meson

To build Lite XL with Meson the commands below can be used:

meson setup --buildtype=release --prefix <prefix> build
meson compile -C build
DESTDIR="$(pwd)/lite-xl" meson install --skip-subprojects -C build

where <prefix> depends on the OS you are using:

  • on Linux is /usr
  • on macOS application bundle can be "/Lite"

If you are using a version of Meson below 0.54 you need to use diffent commands to compile and install:

meson setup --buildtype=release build
ninja -C build
ninja -C build install


macOS is fully supported and a notarized app disk image is provided in the release page. In addition the application can be compiled using the generic instructions given above.

Windows MSYS2

The build environment chosen for Lite XL on Windows is MSYS2. Follow the install instructions in the link.

  • Open MinGW 64-bit or MinGW 32-bit shell from the start menu.
  • Update the MSYS2 installation with pacman -Syu
  • Restart the shell
  • Install the dependencies:
pacman -S \
  ${MINGW_PACKAGE_PREFIX}-freetype \
  ${MINGW_PACKAGE_PREFIX}-pkg-config \
  ${MINGW_PACKAGE_PREFIX}-python-pip \
pip3 install meson

${MINGW_PACKAGE_PREFIX} expands either to mingw-w64-i686 or mingw-w64-x86_64 depending if the current shell is 32 or 64 bit.