Building WebKitGTK from a release tarball

You can build and install WebKitGTK from a release tarball the same as you would any other CMake project. The only trick is that you must pass the CMake option -DPORT=GTK. For example, to do a release build with debug info and install the result:

$ cmake -DPORT=GTK -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo -GNinja
$ ninja
$ sudo ninja install
  • Note: If you want to use the MiniBrowser, you need to enable it at build time by passing -DENABLE_MINIBROWSER=ON to CMake

If you want to build WebKit for production use, you should stop reading here. The rest of the instructions on this page are only suitable for development and testing.

Building WebKitGTK from git

If you want to do development on WebKit itself, you'll need a git checkout. You'll also need to use our Flatpak-based SDK, as using other versions of dependencies may cause layout tests to fail. The following steps are suitable for WebKit development only, not for production builds. Our Flatpak SDK does not receive security or bugfix updates and it is not suitable for any purpose other than development and running layout tests. Do not run against untrusted websites.

Getting the source

To get the WebKitGTK source, please follow the instructions on the WebKit page. Many WebKit developer also use git to interact with the repository and the WebKit developer tools have strong support for git. contains tips for using git with WebKit.


Download and locally install the Flatpak SDK:

$ Tools/Scripts/update-webkitgtk-libs


  • If you see python traceback reporting like this, then you need to install python3-pip package (for Ubuntu).
    ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'distutils.core'
  • Flatpak is needed to be installed before updating this dependencies. On Ubuntu, run:
    # apt-get install flatpak 
  • If you accidentally delete the WebKitBuild/UserFlatpak folder, you can copy an existing one from another work tree and run the following command to update:
    $ Tools/Scripts/update-webkitgtk-libs -r


$ Tools/Scripts/build-webkit --gtk


  • You can pass parameters to the make command with the --makeargs argument.
    • For example, you can pass --makeargs="-jXX", where XX is an integer, to set the number of threads make will use. The default is one per logical CPU detected, but you might want fewer if it's bogging down your system.
  • If everything builds properly tests should typically pass on your system. Please file a bug if they do not.
  • If you get build errors saying a library could not be found but you have the appropriate packages installed make sure you have up-to-date multiarch-support and binutils (or binutils-gold) packages.

Speeding up the build process

There are several tricks that can be used to build WebKitGTK in less time. Check the WebKitGTK/SpeedUpBuild page for the details.

Building the GTK port on MacOS

The code on MacOS may [1] build like any Linux distribution, as long as you install the above build dependencies (in addition to an "ordinary build environment" that includes XCode Tools 2.3 or newer). MacPorts users can get the dependencies via:

$ sudo port install webkit-gtk

If you get an error about libjpeg when the build does the configuration step, you may find the following fixes it:

$ export CPPFLAGS="-I/opt/local/include"
$ export LDFLAGS="-L/opt/local/lib"

[1] Note: The MacOS build is not actively maintained to the same standards than the Linux one. So your mileage may vary.

Cross Compiling

Below there are some tips for cross-compiling

Yocto / OpenEmbedded

One of the easiest ways to build WebKitGTK is with Yocto. There are recipes for webkitgtk in the main Yocto layer. On top of that there is also the meta-webkit layer with extra recipes.

Using a cross-toolchain

The instructions below are a bit old and won't work as such (you need a new GCC version now), but you can get an idea of how this can be done:

  • Wrapping up the instructions in there a bit, you'd basically have to follow 3 steps (or 2, after the initial setup):
    1. Create the chroot and provision it, running the bootstrap script provided (only once) as root (or with sudo)
    2. Configure the build as you please, pointing to the CMake Toolchain provided, which you placed somewhere in your disk
        $ mkdir /path/to/your/WebKit/BUILD && cd /path/to/your/WebKit/BUILD
        $ cmake -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=/path/to/armv7l-toolchain.cmake \
              -DPORT=GTK \
              -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \
              -DCMAKE_INSTALL_SYSCONFDIR=/etc \
              -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr \
              -DCMAKE_INSTALL_LIBDIR=lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf \
              -DCMAKE_INSTALL_LIBEXECDIR=lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf \
              -DENABLE_GLES2=ON \
              -DUSE_LD_GOLD=OFF \
  1. Build it:
      $ make VERBOSE=1 -j12    # Or anything else, this is just what I use

This has been tested with WebKit2GTK 2.12.x and 2.14.x releases as well as with trunk. If you find any issue/comment, please comment on the github repo, or open a pull request.


Running from git

$ Tools/Scripts/run-minibrowser --gtk

Running from a tarball

  1. Install the built product
  2. Execute your program using WebKitGTK, or try to use the MiniBrowser (you need to enable it on the build, its disabled by default)
Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on Jun 13, 2022 2:26:43 PM