FontForge on Cygwin

I've spend a fair amount of time trying to work out how to compile FontForge from source on Cygwin on my Windows XP machine. I've recently upgraded to Windows 7 and decided to install everything from scratch running Cygwin 64 bit rather than just copying the Cygwin 32 folder. There are detailed instructions available at Building FontForge from source, but some key steps are left out. The steps might be assumed common knowledge for Unix users, but coming from a Windows background I struggled with them.

This guide will go through

  • Install Cygwin and required packages
  • Downloading FontForge source
  • Compiling

Install Cygwin

Start with following the first 15 steps of Step 1: Install Cygwin on Installing Cygwin and FontForge for Windows. If you are not bothered with running the latest version of FontForge follow the those instructions completely. Last time I installed it (beginning of 2012) the version I downloaded was buggy and kept crashing. If found the github version I downloaded much more reliable and slicker looking.

If your Windows username has a space in edit /etc/passwd

Cygwin packages

To install from source select the additional packages:

  • git
  • xinit
  • gcc-core
  • libtool
  • python

Together with the packages from the above two guides you should have the following list:

git clone fontforge

in /fontforge

git clone






cd fontforge
./configure --with-freetype-src

Note: If you omit the --with-freetype-src parameter it will be a long time processing on:

checking trying to find the freetype source directory -- be patient...