DFHack builds are available for all supported platforms; see Installing DFHack for installation instructions. If you are a DFHack end-user, modder, or plan on writing scripts [lua] (not plugins), it is generally recommended (and easier) to use these builds instead of compiling DFHack from source.

However, if you are looking to develop plugins, work on the DFHack core, make complex changes to DF-structures, or anything else that requires compiling DFHack from source, this document will walk you through the build process. Note that some steps may be unconventional compared to other projects, so be sure to pay close attention if this is your first time compiling DFHack.

How to get the code

DFHack uses Git for source control; instructions for installing Git can be found in the platform-specific sections below. The code is hosted on GitHub, and can be downloaded with:

git clone --recursive
cd dfhack

If your version of Git does not support the --recursive flag, you will need to omit it and run git submodule update --init after entering the dfhack directory.

This will check out the code on the default branch of the GitHub repo, currently develop, which may be unstable. If you want code for the latest stable release, you can check out the master branch instead:

git checkout master
git submodule update

In general, a single DFHack clone is suitable for development - most Git operations such as switching branches can be done on an existing clone. If you find yourself cloning DFHack frequently as part of your development process, or getting stuck on anything else Git-related, feel free to reach out to us for assistance.

Offline builds

If you plan to build DFHack on a machine without an internet connection (or with an unreliable connection), see Building DFHack Offline for additional instructions.

Working with submodules

DFHack uses submodules extensively to manage its subprojects (including the scripts folder and DF-structures in library/xml). Failing to keep submodules in sync when switching between branches can result in build errors or scripts that don’t work. In general, you should always update submodules whenever you switch between branches in the main DFHack repo with git submodule update. (If you are working on bleeding-edge DFHack and have checked out the master branch of some submodules, running git pull in those submodules is also an option.)

Rarely, we add or remove submodules. If there are any changes to the existence of submodules when you switch between branches, you should run git submodule update --init instead (adding --init to the above command).

Some common errors that can arise when failing to update submodules include:

  • fatal: <some path> does not exist when performing Git operations

  • Build errors, particularly referring to structures in the df:: namespace or the library/include/df folder

  • Not a known DF version when starting DF

  • Run 'git submodule update --init' when running CMake

Submodules are a particularly confusing feature of Git. The Git Book has a thorough explanation of them (as well as of many other aspects of Git) and is a recommended resource if you run into any issues. Other DFHack developers are also able to help with any submodule-related (or Git-related) issues you may encounter.

All Platforms

Before you can compile the code you’ll need to configure your build with cmake. Some IDEs can do this for you, but it’s more common to do it from the command line. Windows developers can refer to the Windows section below for batch files that can be used to avoid opening a terminal/command-prompt.

You should seek cmake’s documentation online or via cmake --help to see how the command works. See the Build Options page for help finding the DFHack build options relevant to you.

Before compiling code, you’ll of course need code to compile. This will include the submodules, so be sure you’ve read the section about getting the code.


On Linux, DFHack acts as a library that shadows parts of the SDL API using LD_PRELOAD.


Building is fairly straightforward. Enter the build folder (or create an empty folder in the DFHack directory to use instead) and start the build like this:

cd build
cmake .. -G Ninja -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE:string=Release -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<path to DF>
ninja install  # or ninja -jX install to specify the number of cores (X) to use

<path to DF> should be a path to a copy of Dwarf Fortress, of the appropriate version for the DFHack you are building. This will build the library along with the normal set of plugins and install them into your DF folder.

Alternatively, you can use ccmake instead of cmake:

cd build
ccmake .. -G Ninja
ninja install

This will show a curses-based interface that lets you set all of the extra options. You can also use a cmake-friendly IDE like KDevelop 4 or the cmake-gui program.


There are several different batch files in the win32 and win64 subfolders in the build folder, along with a script that’s used for picking the DF path. Use the subfolder corresponding to the architecture that you want to build for.

First, run set_df_path.vbs and point the dialog that pops up at a suitable DF installation which is of the appropriate version for the DFHack you are compiling. The result is the creation of the file DF_PATH.txt in the build directory. It contains the full path to the destination directory. You could therefore also create this file manually - or copy in a pre-prepared version - if you prefer.

Next, run one of the scripts with generate prefix. These create the MSVC solution file(s):

  • all will create a solution with everything enabled (and the kitchen sink).

  • gui will pop up the CMake GUI and let you choose what to build. This is probably what you want most of the time. Set the options you are interested in, then hit configure, then generate. More options can appear after the configure step.

  • minimal will create a minimal solution with just the bare necessities - the main library and standard plugins.

  • release will create a solution with everything that should be included in release builds of DFHack. Note that this includes documentation, which requires Python.

Then you can either open the solution with MSVC or use one of the msbuild scripts.

Visual Studio IDE

After running the CMake generate script you will have a new folder called VC2022 or VC2022_32, depending on the architecture you specified. Open the file dfhack.sln inside that folder. If you have multiple versions of Visual Studio installed, make sure you open with Visual Studio 2022.

The first thing you must then do is change the build type. It defaults to Debug, but this cannot be used on Windows. Debug is not binary-compatible with DF. If you try to use a debug build with DF, you’ll only get crashes and for this reason the Windows “debug” scripts actually do RelWithDebInfo builds. After loading the Solution, change the Build Type to either Release or RelWithDebInfo.

Then build the INSTALL target listed under CMakePredefinedTargets.

Command Line

In the build directory you will find several .bat files:

  • Scripts with build prefix will only build DFHack.

  • Scripts with install prefix will build DFHack and install it to the previously selected DF path.

  • Scripts with package prefix will build and create a .zip package of DFHack.

Compiling from the command line is generally the quickest and easiest option. Modern Windows terminal emulators such as Cmder or Windows Terminal provide a better experience by providing more scrollback and larger window sizes.


DFHack functions similarly on macOS and Linux, and the majority of the information above regarding the build process (CMake and Ninja) applies here as well.

DFHack can officially be built on macOS only with GCC 4.8 or 7. Anything newer than 7 will require you to perform extra steps to get DFHack to run (see Notes for GCC 8+ or OS X 10.10+ users), and your build will likely not be redistributable.


  • Get the DFHack source as per section How to get the code, above.

  • Set environment variables

    Homebrew (if installed elsewhere, replace /usr/local with $(brew --prefix)):

    export CC=/usr/local/bin/gcc-7
    export CXX=/usr/local/bin/g++-7


    export CC=/opt/local/bin/gcc-mp-7
    export CXX=/opt/local/bin/g++-mp-7

    Change the version numbers appropriately if you installed a different version of GCC.

    If you are confident that you have GCC in your path, you can omit the absolute paths:

    export CC=gcc-7
    export CXX=g++-7

    (adjust as needed for different GCC installations)

  • Build DFHack:

    mkdir build-osx
    cd build-osx
    cmake .. -G Ninja -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE:string=Release -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=<path to DF>
    ninja install  # or ninja -jX install to specify the number of cores (X) to use

    <path to DF> should be a path to a copy of Dwarf Fortress, of the appropriate version for the DFHack you are building.

Notes for GCC 8+ or OS X 10.10+ users

If you have issues building on OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or above, try defining the following environment variable:


If you build with a GCC version newer than 7, DFHack will probably crash immediately on startup, or soon after. To fix this, you will need to replace hack/libstdc++.6.dylib with a symlink to the libstdc++.6.dylib included in your version of GCC:

cd <path to df>/hack && mv libstdc++.6.dylib libstdc++.6.dylib.orig &&
ln -s [PATH_TO_LIBSTDC++] .

For example, with GCC 6.3.0, PATH_TO_LIBSTDC++ would be:

/usr/local/Cellar/gcc@6/6.3.0/lib/gcc/6/libstdc++.6.dylib  # for 64-bit DFHack
/usr/local/Cellar/gcc@6/6.3.0/lib/gcc/6/i386/libstdc++.6.dylib  # for 32-bit DFHack

Note: If you build with a version of GCC that requires this, your DFHack build will not be redistributable. (Even if you copy the libstdc++.6.dylib from your GCC version and distribute that too, it will fail on older OS X versions.) For this reason, if you plan on distributing DFHack, it is highly recommended to use GCC 4.8 or 7.

Notes for M1 users

Alongside the above, you will need to follow these additional steps to get it running on Apple silicon.

Install an x86 copy of homebrew alongside your existing one. This stackoverflow answer describes the process.

Follow the normal macOS steps to install cmake and gcc via your x86 copy of homebrew. Note that this will install a GCC version newer than 7, so see Notes for GCC 8+ or OS X 10.10+ users.

In your terminal, ensure you have your path set to the correct homebrew in addition to the normal CC and CXX flags above:

export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH

Windows cross compiling from Linux (running DF inside docker)

You can use docker to build DFHack for Windows. These instructions were developed on a Linux host system.

Step 1: prepare a build container

On your Linux host, install and run the docker daemon and then run these commands:

xhost +local:root
docker run -it --env="DISPLAY" --env="QT_X11_NO_MITSHM=1" --volume=/tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix --user buildmaster --name dfhack-win

The xhost command and --env parameters are there so you can eventually run Dwarf Fortress from the container and have it display on your host.

Step 2: build DFHack

The docker run command above will give you a shell prompt (as the buildmaster user) in the container. Inside the container, run the following commands:

git clone
cd dfhack
git submodule update --init
cd build
dfhack-configure windows 64 Release

Inside the dfhack-* scripts there are several commands that set up the wine server. Each invocation of a Windows tool will cause wine to run in the container. Preloading the wineserver and telling it not to exit will speed configuration and compilation up considerably (approx. 10x). You can configure and build DFHack with regular cmake and ninja commands, but your build will go much slower.

Step 3: copy Dwarf Fortress to the container

First, create a directory in the container to house the Dwarf Fortress binary and assets:

mkdir ~/df

If you can just download Dwarf Fortress directly into the container, then that’s fine. Otherwise, you can do something like this in your host Linux environment to copy an installed version to the container:

cd ~/.steam/steam/steamapps/common/Dwarf\ Fortress/
docker cp . dfhack-win:df/

Step 4: install DFHack and run DF

Back in the container, run the following commands:

cd dfhack/build
cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/home/buildmaster/df
ninja install
cd ~/df
wine64 "Dwarf Fortress.exe"

Other notes

Closing your shell will kick you out of the container. Run this command on your Linux host when you want to reattach:

docker start -ai dfhack-win

If you edit code and need to rebuild, run dfhack-make and then ninja install. That will handle all the wineserver management for you.

Cross-compiling windows files for running DF in Steam for Linux

If you wish, you can use Docker to build just the Windows files to copy to your existing Steam installation on Linux.

Step 1: Get dfhack, and run the build script

Check out dfhack into another directory, and run the build script:

git clone
cd dfhack
git submodule update --init --recursive
cd build

The script will mount your host’s dfhack directory to docker, use it to build the artifacts in build/win64-cross, and put all the files needed to install in build/win64-cross/output.

If you need to run docker using sudo, run the script using sudo rather than directly:

sudo ./

Step 2: install dfhack to your Steam DF install

As the script will tell you, you can then copy the files into your DF folder:

# Optional -- remove the old hack directory in case we leave files behind
rm ~/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/common/"Dwarf Fortress"/hack
cp -r win64-cross/output/* ~/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/common/"Dwarf Fortress"/

Afterward, just run DF as normal.

Building DFHack Offline

As of 0.43.05, DFHack downloads several files during the build process, depending on your target OS and architecture. If your build machine’s internet connection is unreliable, or nonexistent, you can download these files in advance.

First, you must locate the files you will need. These can be found in the dfhack-bin repo. Look for the most recent version number before or equal to the DF version which you are building for. For example, suppose “0.43.05” and “0.43.07” are listed. You should choose “0.43.05” if you are building for 0.43.05 or 0.43.06, and “0.43.07” if you are building for 0.43.07 or 0.43.08.

Then, download all of the files you need, and save them to <path to DFHack clone>/CMake/downloads/<any filename>. The destination filename you choose does not matter, as long as the files end up in the CMake/downloads folder. You need to download all of the files for the architecture(s) you are building for. For example, if you are building for 32-bit Linux and 64-bit Windows, download all files starting with linux32 and win64. GitHub should sort files alphabetically, so all the files you need should be next to each other.


  • Any files containing “allegro” in their filename are only necessary for building stonesense. If you are not building Stonesense, you don’t have to download these, as they are larger than any other listed files.

It is recommended that you create a build folder and run CMake to verify that you have downloaded everything at this point, assuming your download machine has CMake installed. This involves running a “generate” batch script on Windows, or a command starting with cmake .. -G Ninja on Linux and macOS, following the instructions in the sections above. CMake should automatically locate files that you placed in CMake/downloads, and use them instead of attempting to download them.