Tux Paint
version 0.9.26
Installation Documentation

Copyright © 2002-2021 by various contributors; see AUTHORS.

March 9, 2021



Tux Paint requires the Simple DirectMedia Layer Library (libSDL), an Open Source multimedia programming library available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

Along with libSDL, Tux Paint depends on a number of other SDL 'helper' libraries: SDL_Image (for graphics files), SDL_TTF and (optionally) SDL_Pango (for True Type Font support) and, optionally, SDL_Mixer (for sound effects).

Linux/Unix Users:

The SDL libraries are available as source-code, or as RPM or Debian packages for various distributions of Linux. They can be downloaded from:

They are also typically available along with your Linux distribution (e.g. on an installation media, or available via package maintainance software like Debian's "apt").

Note: When installing libraries from packages, be sure to ALSO install the development versions of the packages. (For example, install both "SDL-1.2.4.rpm" and "SDL-1.2.4-devel.rpm".)

Other Libraries

Tux Paint also takes advantage of a number of other free, LGPL'd libraries. Under Linux, just like SDL, they should either already be installed, or are readily available for installation as part of your Linux distribution.


Tux Paint uses PNG (Portable Network Graphics) format for its data files. SDL_image will require libPNG be installed.



Tux Paint uses your system's locale settings along with the "gettext" library to support various languages (e.g., Spanish). You'll need the gettext library installed.


libpaper (Linux/Unix only)

As of Tux Paint 0.9.17, Tux Paint can determine your system's default paper size (e.g., A4 or Letter), or can be told to use a particular paper size, thanks to "libpaper".



Tux Paint's "Text" and also "Label" tools support bidirectional languages, thanks to the "FriBiDi" library.


SVG graphics support

As of Tux Paint 0.9.17, Tux Paint can load SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) images as stamps. Two sets of libraries are supported, and SVG support can be completely disabled (via "make SVG_LIB:=")

librsvg-2 & libCairo2 (newer libraries)
Older SVG libraries

Animated GIF Export feature

To support export of animated GIFs (slideshows), the "libimagequant" library (from the "pngquant2" project) is required.


NetPBM Tools (optional) No longer used, by default

Under Linux and Unix, earlier versions of Tux Paint used the NetPBM tools to assist with printing. (A PNG is generated by Tux Paint, and converted into a PostScript using the 'pngtopnm' and 'pnmtops' NetPBM command-line tools.)


Compiling and Installation:

Tux Paint is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) (see "COPYING.txt" for details), and therefore the 'source code' to the program is available freely.

Windows Users:


As of February 2005 (starting with Tux Paint 0.9.15), the "Makefile" includes support for building on a Windows system using MinGW/MSYS (http://www.mingw.org/).

After configuring the environment and building and installing all the dependencies, use these commands, in MSYS, to build, install and run:

Prior to version 0.9.20:
$ make win32
$ make install-win32
$ tuxpaint
Version 0.9.20 and beyond:
$ make
$ make install
$ tuxpaint

Use the following command to build a version suitable for redistribution with the installer or in a zip-file:

$ make bdist-win32

Or if building for Win9x/ME:

$ BDIST_WIN9X=1 make bdist-win32

Before any of the above will work, you need to configure the environment and build or install the libraries that Tux Paint depends upon. John Popplewell put together some instructions for doing that here:


Read the relevant notes if building for Win9X/ME.

Running the Installer:

Double-click the Tux Paint installer executable (.EXE file) and follow the instructions.

First, you will be asked to agree to the license. (It is the GNU General Public License (GPL), which is also available as "COPYING.txt".)

You will then be asked whether you want to install shortcuts to Tux Paint in your Windows Start Menu and on your Windows Desktop. (Both options are set by default.)

Then you will be asked where you wish to install Tux Paint. The default should be suitable, as long as there is space available. Otherwise, pick a different location.

At this point, you can click 'Install' to install Tux Paint!

Changing the Settings Using the Shortcut:

To change program settings, right-click on the TuxPaint shortcut and select 'Properties' (at the bottom).

Make sure the 'Shortcut' tab is selected in the window that appears, and examine the 'Target:' field. You should see something like this:

"C:\Program Files\TuxPaint\TuxPaint.exe"

You can now add command-line options which will be enabled when you double-click the icon.

For example, to make the game run in fullscreen mode, with simple shapes (no rotation option) and in French, add the options (after 'TuxPaint.exe'), like so:

"C:\Program Files\TuxPaint\TuxPaint.exe" -f -s --lang french

(See the main documentation for a full list of available command-line options.)

If you make a mistake or it all disappears use [Ctrl] + [Z] to undo or just hit the [Esc] key and the box will close with no changes made (unless you pushed the "Apply" button!).

When you have finished, click "OK."

If Something Goes Wrong:

If, when you double-click on the shortcut to run Tux Paint, nothing happens, it is probably because some of these command-line options are wrong. Open an Explorer like before, and look for a file called "stderr.txt" in the TuxPaint folder.

It will contain a description of what was wrong. Usually it will just be due to incorrect character-case (capital 'Z' instead of lowercase 'z') or a missing (or extra) '-' (dash).

Linux/Unix Users:


Note: Tux Paint does not use autoconf/automake, so there is no "./configure" script to run. Compiling should be straight-forward though, assuming everything Tux Paint needs is installed.

To compile the program from source, simply run the following command from a shell prompt (e.g., "$"):

$ make

Disabling SVG support (and hence Cairo, libSVG, and svg-cairo dependencies):

To disable SVG support (e.g., if your system is not currently supported by the Cairo library or other SVG-related dependencies), you can run "make" with "SVG_LIB= SVG_CFLAGS= NOSVGFLAG=NOSVG" added:


Disabling Pango support (and hence Pango, Cairo, etc. dependencies):

Prior to version 0.9.18, Tux Paint used the libSDL_ttf library for rendering text using TrueType Fonts. Since 0.9.18, libSDL_Pango is used, as it has much greater support for internationalization. However, if you wish to disable the use of SDL_Pango, you may do so running "make" with "SDL_PANGO_LIB=" added:


Disabling Sound at Compile-time:

If you don't have a sound card, or would prefer to build the program with no sound support (and therefore without a the SDL_mixer dependency), you can run "make" with "SDL_MIXER_LIB=" added:


Other options:

Various other options (e.g., installation paths) may be overridden; see them in "Makefile" for further details.

If you get errors:

If you receive any errors during compile-time, make sure you have the appropriate libraries installed (see above). If using packaged versions of the libraries (e.g., RPMs under RedHat or DEBs under Debian), be sure to get the corresponding "-dev" or "-devel" packages as well, otherwise you won't be able to compile Tux Paint (and other programs) from source!


Assuming no fatal errors occured, you can now install the program so that it can be run by users on the system. By default, this must be done by the "root" user ('superuser'). Switch to "root" by typing the command:

$ su

Enter "root"'s password at the prompt. You should now be "root" (with a prompt like "#"). To install the program and its data files, type:

# make install

Finally, you can switch back to your regular user by exiting superuser mode:

# exit

Alternatively, you may be able to simply use the "sudo" command (e.g., on Ubuntu Linux):

$ sudo make install

Note: By default, "tuxpaint", the executable program, is placed in "/usr/local/bin/". The data files (images, sounds, etc.) are placed in "/usr/local/share/tuxpaint/".

Changing Where Things Go

You can change where things will go by setting "Makefile"variables on the command line. "DESTDIR" is used to place output in a staging area for package creation. "PREFIX" is the basis of where all other files go, and is, by default, set to "/usr/local".

Other variables are:

Where the "tuxpaint" binary will be installed. (Set to "$(PREFIX)/bin" by default - e.g., "/usr/local/bin")
Where the data files (sound, graphics, brushes, stamps, fonts) will go, and where Tux Paint will look for them when it's run. (Set to "$(PREFIX)/share/tuxpaint")
Where the documentation text files (the "docs" directory) will go. (Set to "$(PREFIX)/share/doc/tuxpaint")
Where the manual page for Tux Paint will go. (Set to "$(PREFIX)/share/man")
Where the icons and launchers (for GNOME and KDE) will go.
Where the translation files for Tux Paint will go, and where Tux Paint will look for them. (Set to "$(PREFIX)/share/locale/") (Final location of a translation file will be under the locale's directory (e.g., "es" for Spanish), within the "LC_MESSAGES" subdirectory.)

Note: This list is out of date. See "Makefile" and "Makefile-i18n" for a complete list.


Debugging (to "STDOUT", e.g. to the terminal, or to a "stdout.txt" file, on Windows) can be enabled by setting "DEBUG" (and, if verbose logging is wanted, "VERBOSE") #defines in "src/debug.h".

Uninstalling Tux Paint:


Using the Uninstaller

If you installed the Start Menu shortcuts (the default), then go to the TuxPaint folder and select "Uninstall". A box will be displayed that will confirm that you are about to uninstall Tux Paint and, if you are certain that you want to permanently remove Tux Paint, click on the 'Uninstall' button.

When it has finished, click on the close button.

Using the Control Panel

It is also possible to use the entry "TuxPaint (remove only)" in the Control Panel Add/Remove programs section.


Within the Tux Paint source directory (where you compiled Tux Paint), you can use the "make uninstall" target to uninstall Tux Paint. By default, this must be done by the "root" user ('superuser'), but if you installed Tux Paint somewhere else (e.g., using a "PREFIX=..." setting to "make" and "make install"), you may not, and will want to provide those same settings here. (See the installation instructions above for further information.)