Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am having a pretty tough time installing the latest development libraries of SDL in my Ubuntu 12.04. Last year, I somehow managed to install libsdl 1.2-dev for Ubuntu. As far as I remember, I did it using Synaptic Package Manager. Now, I want to work with the latest SDL libraries. In the page containing downloads for SDL version 2.0.0 (which is the latest stable version), under Linux section for Development Libraries, it is given

Please contact your distribution maintainer for updates.

It would help me a lot if someone answered these questions:

  1. Why is it so not simple to install dev libraries in Ubuntu?
  2. Can anyone give an exhaustive list of the ways to install these libraries on the system so that one can use them for programming?
  3. It would be helpful if you can give the above answer taking the latest SDL dev libraries as an example. Also what is the procedure to clean all the previous versions from the system while installing the latest versions?

PS: I searched for the libsdl-dev package on Synaptic Package Manager, but it is not showing up the latest version.

share|improve this question
Debian-based systems (including Ubuntu) can simply do "sudo apt-get install libsdl2-2.0" to get the library installed system-wide, and all sorts of other useful dependencies, too. "sudo apt-get install libsdl2-dev" will install everything necessary to build programs that use SDL ( – Mr.Hyde Nov 30 '15 at 11:06
up vote 21 down vote accepted

You have to download the source and compile the libs.

You also need some dependencies before compile SDL2. So install these packages first:

sudo apt-get install build-essential xorg-dev libudev-dev libts-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libglu1-mesa-dev libasound2-dev libpulse-dev libopenal-dev libogg-dev libvorbis-dev libaudiofile-dev libpng12-dev libfreetype6-dev libusb-dev libdbus-1-dev zlib1g-dev libdirectfb-dev

  • Method 1: Source code archive
    Now you can go here: download "SDL2-2.0.0.tar.gz" extract the archive (you can extract the archive using tar: tar -xvzf SDL2-2.0.0.tar.gz) and run the follow commands (don't forget to install the dependencies I wrote above, before starting to compile):
    sudo make install

  • Method 2: Mercurial repository
    Another way to install SDL2 is downloading SDL from the mercurial repository online. In order to do this you have to install mercurial first:
    sudo apt-get install mercurial
    then download the SDL (SDL will be downloaded into the directory you're using the terminal)
    hg clone
    now go into the downloaded SDL directory and build & install (don't forget to install the dependencies I wrote above, before starting to compile) the libs running:
    cd SDL
    sudo make install

Don't forget to run:
sudo ldconfig
to update the necessary links and cache to the libraries.

To remove all the installed SDL libs you can run:
sudo apt-get purge libsdl*
sudo apt-get autoremove --purge

Add to
Project -> Build options... -> Compiler settings -> Other options

and to
Project -> Build options... -> Linker settings -> Other linker options

Remember to add these to the Project options and not only to Debug or Release settings. Also, if you've already wrong-compiled the sources, remember to Rebuild it (CTRL + F11)

share|improve this answer
First of all, thanks for the great answer! All the commands work so well together. I use codeblocks, and it is not detecting the libraries. What are the changes that I need to make in my Codeblocks environment so that I can use these libraries? – jsp99 Sep 12 '13 at 8:07
New project-> SDL Project – PeppeDAlterio Sep 12 '13 at 8:19
You can compile it using gcc by adding -lSDL2 to gcc. For example: gcc source.c -lSDL2. I don't know how to do this with codeblocks, but I'm downloading codeblocks and I'll try and let you know. – PeppeDAlterio Sep 12 '13 at 9:04
Btw, it's SDL2/SDL.h NOT SDL/SDL.h – PeppeDAlterio Sep 12 '13 at 9:21
Anyway you can check the Ubuntu Wiki for tons of useful guides: and also this lin for general linux guides: – PeppeDAlterio Sep 12 '13 at 10:08

You can also do:

If you just want the libraries:

sudo apt-get install libsdl2-2.0

If you want to do development:

sudo apt-get install libsdl2-dev
share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.