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This page is outdated and has largely been replaced by a series of release-specific HowTo files. If you want a detailed step-by-step install process for a particular Ubuntu release, please go back to the Installation Notes and find the notes for your release. This page documents only general guidance.

Ubuntu is a great Linux distribution that has many things that I like and a few that I don't. One of the first things I noticed about Unbuntu was that it didn't come with a development environment in the default install. No problem, adding software is a simple task. Ubuntu is based on Debian and as such, depends on the Debian package manager and Ubuntu software repositories to install and and maintain the system.

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to install XASTIR from source or as a binary (already built and ready to run). XASTIR is already available in binary form from the "universe" repository and should run "out of the box" for most users. Running XASTIR from a repository should almost always guarantee you with a working version of XASTIR at the latest stable release as a minimum. However, XASTIR is a moving target and is under heavy development and installing from source may provide you with important bug fixes and features not currently available from pre-built binaries from a repository.

This page gives general guidance for building on Debian-based systems. There are additional pages on the Installation Notes page that provide specific step-by-step instructions for building on particular variants of Ubuntu.

System Preparation

Whether you are installing the XASTIR binary or building it from source, you need to prepare your system by insuring certain repositories are available. See for more information on Ubuntu repositories.

Preparing a Unbuntu system for software development requires the presence of a number of software packages. The most important of which is build-essential. To install this, use your favorite package manager that you read about above and install it:

 sudo apt-get install build-essential

Hint: If you are installing many packages you can include them all on the same command line or

 sudo bash

this will get you a bash shell with a root prompt. When your finished, type 'exit' or close the window. Don't know what sudo is? See Notes:Sudo.

The build-essential package is a meta-package that contains compilers and support applications needed to compile your own applications. You will still need to have a number of development packages available for other required libraries. Development packages generally have a '-dev' appended to the main package name but before the version information.

The following is a list of packages needed for building XASTIR with most features enabled:

build-essential libmotif3 libmotif-dev libax25 libax25-dev graphicsmagick-libmagick-dev-compat libexif-dev libgraphics-magick-perl libgraphicsmagick++1 libgraphicsmagick++1-dev libgraphicsmagick1 libgraphicsmagick1-dev libwmf-dev x-dev gpsmanshp libshp-dev libshp1 shapelib tcl8.4 tcllib libcfitsio-dev libcfitsio2 libgeos2c2a libhdf4g libhdf4g-dev libltdl3 libltdl3-dev libnetcdf++3 libnetcdf3 libodbcinstq1c2 libpq-dev libpq4 libsqlite0 libsqlite0-dev libungif4-dev libxerces27 libxerces27-dev netcdfg-dev odbcinst1debian1 unixodbc unixodbc-dev proj libgsl0 libqgis0 qgis curl ibxp-dev x11proto-print-dev

Many of these are not specifically needed to run XASTIR but are dependencies of installed packages.

Getting XASTIR binary

If you've followed the above recommendations for making Ubuntu repositories available, installing the XASTIR binary is as simple as:

sudo apt-get install xastir

This option also as the benefit of replacing installed binary code with new versions as they become available.

Getting XASTIR source code

After you have prepared your system to build source code, the next task is to get the source from the XASTIR site. There are two options available to you.

  • The first is to download the stable archive (also called tarball). The code is located here.
  • The second is via CVS. I would only recommend this option to those who are familiar building software and comfortable with debugging compile issues. The developers make every effort to only submit changes to the CVS tree if the changes don't break anything else. However, this isn't always the case and at times it takes a bit of effort to get CVS code to compile.

Preparing the compile or what is './configure'

Now that you the tarball on your system lets get ready to compile it.

  • Copy (or move) the tarball to a temporary location.
cp -p xastir-version.tar.gz ~/build
  • The next step is to unpack the tarball
tar xvfz xastir-version.tar.gz

Now that you have a source tree you can build your source code as described in the Install Guide or XASTIR Manual. Pay careful attention to available command-line switches.

./configure --help

This will list configuration options available for compile.

Compiling the code

Once you've chosen configuration options and run "./configure" with those options, you can build the code.


If that completes with no errors, you are done.

Dealing with compile (or link) time errors

Hopefully, you should have a clean compile and the only thing left is to install. If, however, you receive errors or the compile fails, you need to do a little detective work to determine where the problem occurs. Errors are often caused by not having the development package available for a particular library or other generally easy to track down problems. Often you can cut and paste the error into Google to help provide leads on how to resolve the problem. If you are seriously stuck and have already made an effort to resolve the problem yourself you can post your question on the mailing list or web forum.

It's compiled, now what?

Now that you have compiled XASTIR your ready to install the application.

sudo make install

From a command-line you can run XASTIR by typing:


If everything works okay, you can then create a desktop link or add a link to XASTIR from your system menus.