SFML and Linux


This tutorial is the first one you should read if you're using SFML on Linux. It will explain how to install SFML, and compile projects that use it.

Installing SFML

There are different approaches to the installation of SFML on Linux:

Option 1 is the preferred one; if the version of SFML that you want to install is available in the official repositories then get it with your package manager. For example, on Debian you would do:

sudo apt-get install libsfml-dev

Option 3 requires more work: you need to install the development files of all the dependencies of SFML, to install CMake, and to manually execute some commands. But then you'll get a perfect package, which takes in account all the specificities of your system.
If you want to go this way, there's a dedicated tutorial on how to compile SFML.

Finally, option 2 is a good compromise for a quick installation if SFML is not available as an official package. Download the SDK from the download page, unpack it and copy the files to your preferred location: either a separate path in your personal folder (like /home/me/sfml), or a standard path (like /usr/local).

If you already had an older version of SFML installed, make sure that it won't conflict with the new version!

Compiling a SFML program

In this tutorial we're not going to talk about IDEs such as Code::Blocks or Eclipse. We'll focus on the commands required to compile and link an SFML executable, but writing a complete makefile or configuring a project in an IDE is out of the scope of this tutorial -- there are better dedicated tutorials for this.
If you're using Code::Blocks, you may refer to the Code::Blocks tutorial for Windows; things should be similar, except that you won't have to set the compiler and linkers search paths if you installed SFML to a standard path of your system.

First, create a source file, let's name it "main.cpp", containing a sample SFML program:

#include <SFML/Graphics.hpp>

int main()
    sf::RenderWindow window(sf::VideoMode(200, 200), "SFML works!");
    sf::CircleShape shape(100.f);

    while (window.isOpen())
        sf::Event event;
        while (window.pollEvent(event))
            if (event.type == sf::Event::Closed)


    return 0;

Now let's compile it:

g++ -c main.cpp

In case you installed SFML to a non-standard path, you'll need to tell the compiler where to find the SFML headers (.hpp files):

g++ -c main.cpp -I<sfml-install-path>/include

Here, <sfml-install-path> is the directory where you copied SFML, for example /home/me/sfml.

Then, you must link the compiled file to the SFML libraries in order to get the final executable. SFML is made of 5 modules (system, window, graphics, network and audio), and there's one library for each of them.
To link a SFML library, you must add "-lsfml-xxx" to your command line, for example "-lsfml-graphics" for the graphics module (compared to the name of the corresponding file, the "lib" prefix and the ".so" extension must be ommited).

g++ main.o -o sfml-app -lsfml-graphics -lsfml-window -lsfml-system

If you installed SFML to a non-standard path, you'll need to tell the linker where to find the SFML libraries (.so files):

g++ main.o -o sfml-app -L<sfml-install-path>/lib -lsfml-graphics -lsfml-window -lsfml-system

We are now ready to execute the compiled program:


If SFML is not installed in a standard path, you need to tell the library loader where to find the SFML libraries first:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=<sfml-install-path>/lib && ./sfml-app

If everything was ok, you should see this in a new window:

Screenshot of the Hello SFML application