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Known configurations

Date Arch OS GTK Gtk2Hs GHC Haskell Platform
2016-08 Intel 64-bit El Capitan 10.11.6, Xcode Version 7.3.1 (7D1014) gtk+/2.24.30 (Homebrew) 8.0.1 (Homebrew)
2014-05 Intel 64-bit Mavericks - 10.9.2, Xcode Version 5.1.1 HomeBrew 7.6.3 2013.2.0.0 for Mac OS X, 64 bit
2012-04 Intel 64-bit Lion - 10.7.3, Xcode 4.3 HomeBrew 0.12.3 7.0.4 2011.3.0.0
2012-02 Intel 64-bit Lion - 10.7.3, Xcode 4.1 MacPorts darcs HEAD 2012-02-20 7.4.1 (built from source, 64-bit)
2011-08 Intel 32-bit Snow Leopard 2.24.5 Homebrew gtk-0.12.0 7.0.3 2011.2.0.1
2011-03 Intel 64-bit Leopard MacPorts 6.10

HomeBrew OS X El Capitan (64 bit, last checked 2016-08)

1. Install XQuartz (version 2.7.9 at the time of writing):

brew cask install xquartz

2. Install GTK and the required libraries

brew install glib cairo gtk gettext fontconfig freetype

3. Set an environment variable to allow pkg-config to find the file gtk+-2.0.pc (mine is located at /usr/local/lib/pkgconfig):

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig:

4. Install Cabal packages. The packages alex and happy are dependencies of dependencies of ghk2hs-buildtools. For some reason, they must be installed separately prior to installing gtk2hs-buildtools. The same goes for glib with respect to gtk. If they are not installed separately, compiling them fails. Make sure you install the gtk package with the flag -f have_quartz-gtk. Otherwise compiling gtk will fail.

cabal install alex happy
cabal install gtk2hs-buildtools
cabal install glib
cabal install gtk -f have-quartz-gtk

At the time of writing, the versions installed with these commands are alex-3.1.7, happy-1.19.5, gtk2hs-buildtools-, glib-, gtk-0.14.5.

HomeBrew OS X Mavericks (64 bit, last checked 2014-05)

These instructions are an update of the HomeBrew installation shown below (2008) for Mavericks. Make sure that the system you are using has the 64bit version of the Haskell platform installed. Unfortunately, if you have an older 32bit version these instructions will work but all the programs using gtk will fail to compile.

1. Install XQuartz (download) at the time these instruction were written version 2.7.5 worked. Make sure to logout and login again.

2. Install the gtk library and dependencies

brew install glib cairo gtk gettext fontconfig

3. Build freetype by hand (download)

tar -xzvf freetype-2.5.3.tar.gz
cd freetype-2.5.3
make install

Verify whether gtk installed correctly by executing gtk-demo. If the window does not open you might have forgotten to logout and login.


4. Install Haskell GTK with gcc 4.8, it might work with other versions of gcc that you already have installed. However, it will not work with gcc versions <= 4.2.

cabal install gtk2hs-buildtools 
export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/opt/X11/lib/pkgconfig
brew tap homebrew/versions
brew install gcc48
cabal install --with-gcc=gcc-4.8 gtk 

HomeBrew (64 bit, last checked 2012-08)

These instructions come from a gist by Carter Schonwald

1. Install the gtk library and dependencies

brew install glib cairo gtk gettext fontconfig
brew deps gtk # see below
brew deps gtk | xargs brew link
brew link cairo gettext fontconfig

2. Build freetype by hand (download)

brew install stow
mkdir /usr/local/stow
cd freetype-2.4.8
./configure --prefix /usr/local/stow/freetype-2.4.8
make install
cd /usr/local/stow
stow freetype-2.4.8

3. Install Haskell GTK

cabal install gtk2hs-buildtools 
cabal install gtk

4. Update for Mountain Lion (OSX 10.8)

This OS release uses xquartz project X11 implementation, that may yield errors while building the package.

In the above step 3 (cabal install gtk) I had errors that were resolved by:

4.1 Fixing any detail reported by "brew doctor"

4.2. Accepting the XCode 4.4 command line tool's license:

sudo xcodebuild -license

4.3. Setting pkg-config search path to:

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=~/Source/gtk/source/libpng-1.4.8/:/opt/X11/lib/pkgconfig

4.4. Building (as cited in gtk2hs mac instructions) with

cabal install gtk -fhave-quartz-gtk

HomeBrew (32 bit, last checked 2011-08)

brew update 
brew install gtk+ libglade

If the gtk-demo appears to work, proceed to the rest of the gtk2hs install.


Problem: Bus error

Try running the gtk-demo program. Does it also fail?

If so, did you try updating your port? For example, if you are using Howebrew try:

brew update
brew install gtk+

Then try gtk-demo again and finally

cabal install --renistall gtk

It may be worthwhile to try a gtkhs helloworld

MacPorts (last checked 2011-03-10)

  • Install MacPorts
  • Add +universal to /opt/local/etc/macports/variants.conf (not needed on 32bit)
  • execute:
    sudo port install ghc gtk2 gvfs cairo librsvg libglade2 gtkglext gtksourceview2 && sudo port install gtk2hs -universal

Detailed instructions

This explains how to install Gtk2Hs-0.10.1 on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, in combination with GTK+ from MacPorts.

  • Install the Haskell Platform for Mac
  • Download gtk2hs from Gtk2Hs website and untar it.
  • Install gtk, cairo, etc. from MacPorts like this (note that the +universal is needed; if you already installed gtk or one of its dependencies, it is recommended you reinstall those as detailed in the NB at the end of this section).
sudo port install gtk +universal
  • Go to the directory where gtk2hs is untarred and run
./configure --disable-split-objs --disable-gio
sudo make install

Alternatively, if you wish to follow the Mac OS X style of directory layout, you can use this configure command instead:

./configure --with-pkgconf=/Users/$USER/.ghc/i386-darwin-6.10.4/package.conf --prefix=/Users/$USER/Library/Haskell/packages/gtk2hs --disable-split-objs --disable-gio

Right now you should be able to run the demos. Unfortunately, to build any libraries depending on Gtk2Hs, such as Chart, you need to edit one more file. You will need to find package.conf for your installed GHC by running

ghc-pkg list

In the output you will see the full directory to your package.conf file. In this file, you need to search for "gthread", and everywhere you can find it, add "/opt/local/lib" (with quotes) to the libraryDirs array before it.

If all went well, it should be properly installed now.

NB: If compiling fails with architecture errors for certain dynlibs, you need to reinstall the packages these dynlibs belong to with +universal by doing

sudo port upgrade packagename --enforce-variants +universal

Alternatively, and this is recommended, you can follow the steps on Haskell On Snow Leopard Blogpost to immediately add the universal variant of each package:

  1. Edit /opt/local/macports/variants.conf and add +universal to the end of this file
  2. sudo port selfupdate
  3. sudo port sync
  4. sudo port upgrade --force installed

GTK+ OS X Framework

This explains how to install Gtk2Hs on Macs using the native GTK+ OS X Framework, a port of GTK+ to the Mac that does not depend on X11, and hence, is better integrated into the Mac desktop - i.e., menus actually appear in the menu bar, where they belong. It also avoids the often tedious installation of GTK+ via MacPorts. However, it misses support for optional Gtk2Hs packages that are currently not supported by the GTK+ OS X Framework, most notably support for Glade. It does include support for Cairo, though.

Here is how to install the library:

  1. Download and install GTK+ OS X Framework (this uses the standard Mac package installer).
  2. Install pkg-config, either by compiling it from source or via MacPorts.
  3. Download and unpack the Gtk2Hs tar ball from the Gtk2Hs download page (I tested 0.10.0).
  4. Configure with (you may want to remove the two backslashes and put everything on one line)
     env PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/Library/Frameworks/Cairo.framework/Resources/dev/lib/pkgconfig:\ 
     /Library/Frameworks/Gtk.framework/Resources/dev/lib/pkgconfig ./configure --disable-gio
  1. Build with
  1. Install (to /usr/local/ unless a --prefix option was passed to configure) with
     sudo make install

The library is now registered with the package database of the GHC you used for compiling.

NB: Thanks to Ross Mellgren for his post on the gtk2hs-users list that outlined the use of PKG_CONFIG_PATH.