Installing Xapian


This document is intended to give a quick guide to how to install Xapian. You can find more detailed instructions in the INSTALL file which is in top level directory of each source tree.

Xapian can be built on UNIX systems (including macOS), and also Microsoft Windows systems using GCC with mingw or cygwin, or MSVC.

Packaged binary versions

Pre-built Xapian packages are available for a number of platforms, including most of the popular Linux distributions and BSD variants, and also Cygwin and MSVC. If you are using such a platform, you'll probably find it easiest to use pre-built packages - it saves having to compile by hand and you'll generally get updates automatically.

There are some links on our download page but it's likely that Xapian packages are available for platforms we aren't aware of. Feel free to let us know and we'll add a link.

In some cases, the version packaged may be rather old, in which case you can either request the packager to update, or build from source. If you find we're linking to a package which isn't being updated, please let us know so we can remove the link.

Installing from Source


The first step is to obtain a copy of the software from the Xapian download page.


Use the usual tools to unpack the archives. For example, on a Linux system:

tar xf xapian-core-<versionnumber>.tar.xz
tar xf xapian-omega-<versionnumber>.tar.xz
tar xf xapian-bindings-<versionnumber>.tar.xz

If tar on your system doesn't support xz decompression, you can instead use:

xz -dc xapian-core-<versionnumber>.tar.xz|tar xf -
xz -dc xapian-omega-<versionnumber>.tar.xz|tar xf -
xz -dc xapian-bindings-<versionnumber>.tar.xz|tar xf -

These commands should unpack the archives into separate subdirectories (xapian-core-<versionnumber>, xapian-omega-<versionnumber> and xapian-bindings-<versionnumber>).

Configuring and building the Xapian library

For full details of the different options available when configuring and building, read the file "INSTALL" in the top level directory of your newly unpacked source tree. But in many cases, the following quick summary is all you need to know.

Each directory contains a configure script which checks various features of your system. Assuming this runs successfully, you can then run make to build the software, and make install to actually install it. By default, the software installs under /usr/local, but you can change this by passing --prefix=/path/to/install to configure. So for example, you might use the following series of commands to build and install xapian-core under /opt:

cd xapian-core-<version>
./configure --prefix=/opt
sudo make install

If you don't have root access to install Xapian, you can specify a prefix in your home directory, for example:

./configure --prefix=/home/jenny/xapian-install

Configuring and building Omega

Omega can be built in almost exactly the same way as the core library. Omega's configure script will try to locate your Xapian installation by looking for the xapian-config script, which is installed as <prefix>/bin/xapian-config. If <prefix>/bin/xapian-config isn't on your PATH, or you have multiple installations of Xapian (perhaps a debug and non-debug build, or two different versions), you can specify a xapian-config to use by passing XAPIAN_CONFIG on the configure command line, as shown below:

cd xapian-omega-<version>
./configure --prefix=/opt XAPIAN_CONFIG=/opt/bin/xapian-config
sudo make install

Note that we use GNU libtool, which will set the runtime library search path if your Xapian installation isn't in the dynamic linker search path, so there's no need to mess around with setting LD_LIBRARY_PATH.

Configuring and building Xapian-bindings

Xapian-bindings is built much like Omega. One thing to be aware of is that by default we install the built bindings where they need to go to work without further intervention, so they may get installed under /usr even if the prefix is elsewhere. See the INSTALL file for xapian-bindings for details of how you can override this, and what steps you'll need to take to run scripts which use the bindings if you do.

Building from git

If you wish to help develop Xapian, read how to build from the Xapian git repository.