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Sugar-jhbuild will automatically download the latest of Sugar's dependencies as well as Sugar itself directly from their source repositories, rather than relying on source packages that may have become stale. Below are generic instructions on how to use jhbuild to get up and running with Sugar.

Compatible Platforms

Jhbuild is quite demanding with regard to the packages and setup for the host Linux distribution. As a result there are only a few Linux distributions which are known to work with it.

See the distribution specific instructions for information about whether your distribution is currently supported. Other distros which have a recent-enough release (e.g. including the latest stable GNOME release) can be supported if someone is willing to maintain the dependencies for that distro release (in config/sysdeps).

Check distro-specific instructions

Many distributions have some quirks that need to be catered for and there are different package managing tools in use, so please check the page for your distribution before proceeding:

Here are some videos of the Fedora jhbuild install process.

Check out sugar-jhbuild

In a suitable directory (i.e. usually your home directory), execute

git clone git://git.sugarlabs.org/sugar-jhbuild/mainline.git sugar-jhbuild

I did exactly what is said and I get an error: [denny@localhost /]$ cd home [denny@localhost home]$ git clone git://git.sugarlabs.org/sugar-jhbuild/mainline.git sugar-jhbuild fatal: could not create work tree dir 'sugar-jhbuild': Permission denied. --Dennis Daniels 17:20, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Build sugar base system and its dependencies

Go into the directory you created and start the build.

cd sugar-jhbuild
./sugar-jhbuild update
./sugar-jhbuild depscheck
./sugar-jhbuild build

Dealing with dependencies

sugar-jhbuild depscheck will print a list of required packages. They are part of the distribution you're using and should be installed using your favourite package manager (e.g. aptitude/synaptic for Debian, yum for Fedora). If you notice that there's a package missing from the depscheck output (i.e. it's required for Sugar to work properly and not installed, but depscheck does not mention it), please file a bug report (login required first, but currently no automatic redirection to login page) against the sugar-jhbuild Component in the Sugar Labs bug tracker.

Some tips:

  • hulahop stopped building because I had installed a more recent version of xulrunner on my machine. The workaround was to rm -rf ~/sugar-jhbuild/source/hulahop and then run update and build again.

Run Sugar

This command launches the Sugar emulator:

./sugar-jhbuild run

To exit the emulator, press Alt-Q.

Note that due to a bug in Xephyr your keyboard might not work as expected. A partial workaround is to run setxkbmap <keymap name> in ~/.sugar/debug (this file will be created on first run of Sugar). Most "regular" keys should work fine after that, some "special keys" (e.g. cursor up/down) might still refuse to operate as intended.

The "keymap name" usually is a two letter country code, e.g. "de" for german or "fr" for french.

Running multiple instances

To run multiple instances of sugar you can start it in the following way:

SUGAR_PROFILE=2 ./sugar-jhbuild run

This will create a new profile in ~/.sugar/, i.e. ~/.sugar/2/. You will find logs and configuration for this instance here. The default profile is ~/.sugar/default/

Run an individual activity

Within sugar, e.g. in Terminal, this command launches an individual activity for testing:

sugar-launch [bundle name]

You will see debug output appearing in Terminal.

Configure the mode and resolution of Sugar

You can make Sugar run fullscreen or specify a size (in pixels):

./sugar-jhbuild run sugar-emulator --fullscreen
./sugar-jhbuild run sugar-emulator --dimensions 1200x900

The default size of 800x600 is currently the minimum that should work without issues. I.e. activities should be tested to work in this mode (and in others as well).

Other commands

JHBuild has several other commands that can be useful for development. You can get an overview with:

./sugar-jhbuild --help-commands

A useful sequence of commands for building Sugar, from the Sugar mailing list: (Note that build will update first anyway, so run update separately if you want to see what changed more easily.)

./sugar-jhbuild update
./sugar-jhbuild build -a --clean
./sugar-jhbuild run

The use of -a and --clean flags are needed when a file is removed so that autogen.sh is run. Note: Some packages, e.g., squeak and etoys, don't have a make clean. Just ignore the error.

If build breaks after an update

The packages in sugar-jhbuild are the latest development versions, so you not only get the latest features, but also the latest breakages. The dependencies may change often, too, so be sure to run

./sugar-jhbuild depscheck

regularly and install the missing packages.

If your problem persists for more than a day (and even though you installed all missing packages), please file a bug report.

From within Sugar

Once you have Sugar running, here are some useful commands:

  • Alt+Shift+F makes the frame appear and disappear
  • Ctrl-Q quits an activity
  • Alt+Shift+Q quits Sugar
  • Alt+Shift+O opens the search
  • Alt+Shift+R rotates the screen


To customize the build create a configuration file, named .sugar.jhbuildrc, in your home directory.

Write access to the repositories

If you have write access to the repositories you can add this (if your login name happens to be marco):

repos['gnome.org'] = ':ext:marco@cvs.gnome.org:/cvs/gnome'
repos['mozilla.org'] = ':ext:marco%gnome.org@cvs.mozilla.org:/cvsroot'
repos['dev.laptop.org'] = 'git+ssh://marco@dev.laptop.org/git/'
repos['dev.laptop.org/projects'] = 'git+ssh://marco@dev.laptop.org/git/projects/'

Useful Internal Links

External links