Compiling the viewer (Mac OS X)

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The following are instructions for building the Second Life viewer on Mac OS X. For other platforms, see Compiling the viewer

You will also need to check the Build Notes column of the table on source downloads page.

Getting Development Tools

  • XCode : Most Lindens use XCode 3.1 on Leopard (OS X 10.5) for building on Macintosh computers (though some still use XCode 2.4). For simplicity, we suggest installing everything from the mpkg.
  • CMake : Install CMake 2.6.2 from

Downloading Source Code

You can download the Viewer source code on the source downloads page. You can also use a version control repository. If you're just starting out, it's probably best to get the latest Release version, rather than a Release Candidate, because the Release Candidates get updated quite often. But if you would rather work with the latest code, go for the version control repository "trunk". Don't forget to also download the artwork and library bundles relevant to the repository branch you're using as explained in Artwork and Library Bundles.

If you're downloading from the source downloads page, there are three packages to get: the source package, the artwork package, and the library package. In versions 1.20 and earlier, Linden packaged the library binaries in the Libs package. For 1.21 and beyond, the CMake script now downloads most of the libraries that were previously in the libs zip file. This saves developers who are tracking trunk from constantly downloading them every update and only downloads updated libraries. As of this writing, there are some pieces packages that still require downloading, so be sure to grab the library and artwork bundles from the source downloads page.

Downloading Tarballs on Mac

If you have Stuffit installed on your system, it may automacially unstuff .gz files. In that case, use tar xvf (i.e. the regular command without the z) to extract the tar file. It may also automatically unzip files. To prevent these unpacking when downloading, instead of clicking on the file link in the source downloads page, right click on the link and select Download Linked File from the contextual menu which will keep .gz and .zip files intact.

When you have downloaded it, unpack the snapshot (replace x.x.x.x with the version number of the snapshot you downloaded). This creates the linden directory as a subdirectory of your current working directory:

tar xvzf path-to-download/snowglobe-src-viewer-x.x.x.x.tar.gz

The exact filenames will differ with the version number. If you open them with the double click file extract, remember that dragging folders on top of each other on Mac will overwrite the original contents, not merge them as in Windows.

Check the source downloads page for any special Build Notes associated with the viewer version, if any.

Installing Libraries and Artwork Bundles

The build requires a number of libraries and artwork files that must be downloaded separately and dropped in directories in the linden source tree.

The easiest method of doing this is to use the script described in Artwork and Library Bundles.

Installing Third Party Libraries

You can if you prefer install those libraries from scratch. For convenience, Linden Lab packages up the libraries they are allowed to distribute so you can download and unpack them into your development working directory. The Artwork and Library Bundles installs such pre-compiled third-party library files. Alternatively, if you want to build the libraries yourself, See Compiling the viewer libraries (Mac OS X).

Installing Proprietary Libraries

The Viewer depends on some proprietary libraries. Lindens do not distribute these libraries, so you will need to fetch and install these even if you download the libraries packages. (This is due to licensing restrictions. Don't ask, Lindens already did, and can't get permission. So you do have to get them yourself.)


  1. Download & extract fmod 3.75 programmers api for macintosh (later versions, like FMOD Ex, are incompatible).
  2. Copy the extracted files to folder containing your linden local repository. Now you'll need to combine the separate PowerPC and x86 libraries into a universal binary and copy the result to the libraries folder. In a Terminal session, navigate to the folder containing the extracted fmod package and type the following commands:
mkdir -p linden/libraries/include
mkdir -p linden/libraries/universal-darwin/lib_debug
mkdir -p linden/libraries/universal-darwin/lib_release
cp -p fmodapi375mac/api/inc/*.h linden/libraries/include
lipo -create fmodapi375mac/api/lib/libfmod.a  fmodapi375mac/api/lib/libfmodx86.a  -output linden/libraries/universal-darwin/lib_debug/libfmod.a
touch -r fmodapi375mac/api/lib/libfmodx86.a linden/libraries/universal-darwin/lib_debug/libfmod.a
cp -p linden/libraries/universal-darwin/lib_debug/libfmod.a linden/libraries/universal-darwin/lib_release/libfmod.a

It's a good practice to create that libraries hierarchy once somewhere and copy it over a freshly checked out repo.

Building the Viewer

CMake is a system for generating per-platform build files using platform independent scripts. On OS X, it will generate your choice of Makefiles or Xcode project files. The code contains a python script that invokes CMake for you and takes care of other tasks like downloading the 3rd party libraries.

See below instructions for setting up an XCode environment or a command line Unix Makefile style environment.

NOTE: These instructions only apply to version 1.21 and later of the Second Life viewer. For instructions about compiling earlier versions, please see Compiling the viewer (Mac OS X, 1.20 and earlier)


  • Under a Terminal window, navigate to your local linden/indra directory, and type the following command:
  • Launch XCode and open the project file "linden/indra/build-darwin-universal/SecondLife.xcodeproj", universal being the platform type, i.e. i386, PPC or universal. Note that for all branches starting with 2.0, only the Mac Intel platform (i386) is supported.
  • In XCode, select the SecondLife project (top of the left bar), click "Info" in the tool bar
    • Select the "Build" tab (second from top left)
    • Select RelWithDebInfo in the "Configuration" drop down
    • Under the "Architectures" sub panel, set the base SDK to Mac OS X 10.6 (NOTE: see [1]) or 10.5, if you're using an older version of the OS
    • Under the "Compiler Version" sub panel, set the compiler version to GCC 4.0.
  • Build the project simply clicking on the "Build" button on the top toolbar.

Full build can take a long time (select the "Build" tab in the work area so you can follow what's going on), but will likely use nearly 100% CPU for most of the process.


  • Under a Terminal window, navigate to your local linden/indra directory, and type the following command:
python -G 'Unix Makefiles'

NOTE: The above commands will configure a "non-standalone" version of the source code tree. This means that the required third party library packages (as built by Linden Lab) will be downloaded during the CMake process.

  • To start the build, you can still use
python build

-- or --

  • Navigate to the build directory and invoke make
cd build-darwin-universal

Build Configurations

This configuration is more suitable for debugging. The build process will create the SecondLife application targeted for your host architecture. Unoptimized, includes debug symbols.
Essentially the same as the Debug target without LL_DEBUG defined. This disables a significant amount of sanity checking which slows down the viewer. Unoptimized, includes debug symbols.
Optimised, without debug info.

Where's the built viewer?

On OS X, your viewer build will be in "build-darwin-platform/newview/RelWithDebInfo/" or "build-darwin-platform/newview/RelWithDebInfo/Second" depending on which branch you built.

The easiest way to launch your compiled viewer is to simply navigate under the Finder to that folder and double click the application.


  • If you change the build configuration you use, the intermediate directory will also change, e.g. from RelWithDebInfo to Release.
  • Depending on your platform, the platform will be chosen among i386, PPC and universal.

Building the Unit Tests

From XCode, open the project 'linden/indra/test/MacTester.xcodeproj', set 'MacTester' as the active target, and build.

What to do if it doesn't work for you

  • Check your environment. Ensure you have the OS X 10.6 (NOTE: see [2]) or 10.5 SDK selected and installed (reinstall XCode if needed to get it) and have set the Compiler Version to GCC 4.0 in XCode's Project Settings.
  • If the build complains about "vivox" or "fmod" missing, you skipped the fmod step or installed fmod after running In that case, you need to delete "linden/indra/build-darwin-platform" and rebuild it using
  • If the build complains of missing proprietary libraries, such as libopenal.dylib, you may need to copy them manually to the location the build scripts expect them to be.
  • If you can't find certain files that the build process expects, you can copy them from an already-compiled version of the viewer. You can do this by looking inside the viewer's application package [right click > Show Package Contents]. This applies equally to branched or third-party variants of the viewer which may have additional dependencies.
  • Ask for help on IRC ( #opensl)
  • Ask for help on the SLDev mailing list
  • Fix it: Modifying CMake Files‎ and please, submit a patch!

Submitting Patches

This is probably far down the road, but if you make changes to the source and want to submit them, see the page about submitting patches.