Distributing a GTK App for Windows

Setting up msys2

Installation using chocolatey

You need to install msys2 before you can start developing on windows. The easiest way to set it up is to use the chocolatey package manager.

If you don’t already have choco installed, just follow the installation instructions on https://chocolatey.org/install then run

choco install msys2

After msys2 is set up, open a new (non-administrator) powershell window, and in that run msys2

Installing necessary packages

sudo pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-gtk3 mingw-w64-x86_64-toolchain base-devel glib2-devel

Refer to the installation instructions on GTK’s website on which other packages you might need. I believe this is enough to get started.

Compiling your app

Now, clone your project’s repository and build the app as you normally would on linux and place the executable in the bin directory inside your installation directory. Use the ldd command (ldd bin/MyApp.exe) to list the necessary DLLs required by your app and copy all the DLLs starting with "/mingw" to the bin directory. This script automatically does that:

ldd bin/MyApp.exe | grep '\/mingw.*\.dll' -o | xargs -I{} cp "{}" ./bin

Credit goes to https://stackoverflow.com/a/50130668; Replace MyApp.exe with your executable’s name.

Adding other required files

Icon Theme

Create a directory for the icon theme with mkdir -p ./share/icons, and download the hicolor (mandatory) and another icon pack (I’ll be using Adwaita) and place both files into share/icons.

Or just copy from your mingw installation

cp /mingw64/share/icons/* -r share/icons/

GLib Schemas

Settings schemas need to be compiled in order for the app to work. The quickest way is to just copy the default ones from your mingw installation. In a real-world scenaro you might want to edit these files and delete any irrelevant settings but just for testing I don’t care.

mkdir -p share/glib-2.0/schemas
cp /mingw64/share/glib-2.0/schemas/* share/glib-2.0/schemas/
glib-compile-schemas.exe share/glib-2.0/schemas/

Pixbuf loaders

GTK needs Pixbuf loaders to be able to load images, else it will crash. Just copy the loaders from your mingw installation:

cp /mingw64/lib/gdk-pixbuf-2.0 -r lib/gdk-pixbuf-2.0

Finishing up

Check that your app runs, and either zip the file or create a microsoft installer to distribute the app!