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This guide is about porting to AROS software that comes with configure or make scripts, which is true for most of the open source software from the Linux world. It's based on a document which was written by Johan Samuellson for AmigaOS4.

What to port?

  • The best supported programming language is C. Support for C++ lacks some features.
  • Look what additional packages are required for the software you want to port. You cannot simply port when GUI toolkits are needed, like GTK or QT. Only software which runs under a console can be ported directly.
  • When you would like to port games, look if they use libSDL. But avoid software which requires OpenGL.

Getting the SDK up to date

The easiest way to port to AROS is from a Linux box, because it usually has all the needed development tools. Look in the Development Guide for some information on installing the SDK.

The basics

The first thing you do is to check how to build your project. If there is a file called configure in the root directory of the archive, it means you'll have to configure it for your platform. See the next chapter for a description on how to do that. However, if the project doesn't have a file called configure, look for a file called Makefile. Edit it to suit AROS.

After the project is properly configured it's time to roll out the compiler. Start building your project by typing make.

If everything compiled and linked, you are ready to test your port. A very common problem is that it won't find its datafiles, and crash. Fix the paths as described in the path-fixing chapter, and try to run it again.

Strip the binaries in order to remove debugging information and making them smaller.

OK, you're done now, upload it to and!

How to configure

On Linux, packages with a configure script are usually installed in 3 steps:

sudo make install

What makes configuring for AROS more difficult than e.g. for AmigaOS4 is the fact that for AROS compiling is done with a cross compiler.

Type ./configure --help to see what options are available. If configuring fails try to disable some features.

Simple example

./configure CC=i386-aros-gcc \
--build=local --host=i686-aros
--disable-nls --without-x --without-pic --disable-shared


It makes sense to write the configure statement to a text file. This way re-run it is as easy as sh But before re-running the script, you'll have to do rm -f config.cache, in order to reset the configuration process.

Here is an explanation of the options used above:

Use the AROS compiler. Otherwise the result will be a Linux binary.
--build=local --host=i686-aros
Tells the configure script to cross-compile to i686-aros.
--disable-nls --without-x --without-pic --disable-shared
Disables some features that AROS doesn't support.


Don't do sudo make install, because this would install your application in Linux paths like /usr/local.

SDL example (manual installation)

The following example is for Ltris, but it should be similar for other SDL applications:

./configure CC=i386-aros-gcc  LDFLAGS="-nix" \
--prefix=/PROGDIR \
--build=local --host=i686-aros \
--disable-nls --without-x --without-pic --disable-shared \
This enables Linux semantics for paths. Linux applications often use absolute paths to their data files. But an absolute Linux path like /usr/local/app means for AROS: go one level up, then go into the usr directory.
Prefixes all paths with /PROGDIR. Together with the -nix option this allows to use Linux paths when compiling and AROS paths when running.
The configure script calls sdl_config to find out the required CFLAGS and LDFLAGS for SDL applications. Without this option it would call the Linux version of sdl_config, which would give wrong results.

After a successful run of the configure script and make, copy the ltris binary and the data files in such a way that the binary finds the data files:

    ltris (binary)

SDL example (semi-automatic installation)

The options will be nearly the same as above:

./configure CC=i386-aros-gcc  LDFLAGS="-nix" \
--prefix=/PROGDIR --bindir=/PROGDIR \
--build=local --host=i686-aros \
--disable-nls --without-x --without-pic --disable-shared \
Avoids that a subdirectory bin will be created.

Don't forget the --prefix option or it will install AROS files in some Linux paths.

Now you can rebuild your project (make distclean, run the configure script, make). You could call sudo make install at this point, but it's better to instead do the following steps:

  • sudo mkdir /PROGDIR
  • sudo chmod a+rwx /PROGDIR

This allows accessing /PROGDIR without root rights. Now you can do make install which should install the game in /PROGDIR. As this isn't a good place you'll have to copy it to a place were AROS can reach it (e.g. cp -r /PROGDIR ~/AROS/games/ltris).

Remember to do rm -rf /PROGDIR/* before you build another project.

Common errors that can occur when configuring

You get errors like target or host i686-aros isn't available.

The config.sub script is probably old or doesn't exist. Run autoconf in the root directory of the package. If this doesn't help, copy an actual version of the file config.sub from e.g. /usr/share/automake.
I get errors like this:
checking for IMG_Load in -lSDL_image... no

You're linking with static libraries, and need to tell exactly what to link in. Locate this line in the configure script:

LIBS="-lSDL_image $LIBS"

SDL_image depends on some more libraries to function correctly, add them like this:

LIBS="-lSDL_image -lpng -ljpeg -lz $LIBS"
I get errors like this:
checking for Mix_OpenAudio in -lSDL_mixer... no

You're linking with static libraries, and need to tell exactly what to link in. Locate this line in the configure script:

LIBS="-lSDL_mixer $LIBS"

SDL_mixer depends on some more libraries to function correctly, add them like this:

LIBS="-lSDL_mixer -lvorbisfile -lvorbis -logg $LIBS"

The same thing also often happens when configure is searching for SDL_ttf, and you know why by now. You need to specify some more libs that SDL_ttf depends on. It needs -lfreetype and -lz. Proceed as before.

If you've added the needed dependencies to the configure script, and it still doesn't work it can be due missing files in the SDK. E.g. the SDL libs might not be included.

If it still doesn't work, and you are sure that you have the library installed, try to remove the whole section where it checks for the failing library in the configure file. This is not recommended, but if there is no other way...

Now you should be ready to build your project. When porting Unix applications always type make.

Creating a makefile by hand

This makefile could be used if the build system is a mess and you want to simplify it a bit. Alter it to fit your needs. Usually you only need to modify an existing makefile, change the name of the C compiler (otherwise it would create binaries for Linux) and add some linklibraries.

Here's an explanation of what the flags do.

The name of the C compiler executeable.
The name of the delete command.
The name of the strip command (used to remove debug data from exe files).
Tells the compiler where to find the includes (-I) etc.
Tells the linker what libraries to include (-l) and where to find them (-L).
The compiler (GCC/G++) compiles object files (#?.o) from your .c files; the object files are later linked together to become an executable file. Specify the object filenames here.
The name of the final executable file.
CC      = i386-aros-gcc
RM      = rm
STRIP   = i386-aros-strip --strip-unneeded --remove-section .comment
CFLAGS  = -Wall -O2
LDFLAGS = -nix -lsmpeg -lSDL_gfx -lSDL_net -lSDL_image -lpng -ljpeg -lz -lSDL_mixer \
          -lvorbisfile -lvorbis -logg -lSDL_ttf -lfreetype -lz -lsdl -lauto -lpthread -lm
OBJS    = a.o b.o c.o
OUTPUT  = test.exe

all: $(OBJS)
        $(CC) $(CFLAGS) $(LDFLAGS) $(OBJS) -o $(OUTPUT)

main.o: main.cpp main.h
        $(CC) $(CFLAGS) -c main.cpp

        $(STRIP) $(OUTPUT)

        $(RM) -f $(OBJS) $(OUTPUT)

Remember that you have to use tabulator chars before the command.

Using the build system

The build system contains some scripts for configuring of packages. The big advantage when using the build system is that you can easily port to different AROS flavours.

  • %build_with_configure
  • %fetch_and_build
  • %fetch_and_build_gnu_development

Look in the file $(TOP)/config/make.tmpl for an explanation of the arguments. In $(TOP)/contrib/gnu you can already find a lot of GNU packages.


Converting Unix paths to AROS paths

How to convert Unix paths into AROS paths?

Change getenv("HOME") to "/PROGDIR/"


old: strcpy(path, getenv("HOME"));
new: strcpy(path, "/PROGDIR/");

old: strcpy(home,getenv("HOME"));
new: strcpy(home,"/PROGDIR/");

old: sprintf(rc_dir, "%s/.gngeo/romrc.d", getenv("HOME"));
new: sprintf(rc_dir, "%sgngeo/romrc.d", "/PROGDIR/");

Notice that in the last example "/." was removed.

Paths to datadirs are often set during the configure process by issuing -DDATADIR=. If this is the case, set it to -DDATADIR=/PROGDIR/ It's also common that the datadir are set in the makefiles. Locate DATADIR= and change it to DATADIR=/PROGDIR/


Defines are often set in config.h; if something is configured incorrectly, you can often change it there by using #define and #undef.

A define example that considers all AmigaOS flavours:

#ifdef __AMIGA__
    blah blah blah
    blah blah blah

A define example that only considers AROS:

#ifdef __AROS__
    blah blah blah
    blah blah blah

A define example, that considers BeOS and AROS:

#if !defined(__BEOS__) && !defined(__AROS__)

An example of a more complex #ifdef:

#ifdef GP2X
    char *gngeo_dir="save/";
#elif defined __AROS__
    char *gngeo_dir="/PROGDIR/save/";
    char *gngeo_dir=get_gngeo_dir();

Some open-source packages are already adapted to Amiga-like operating systems. If you find something like #ifdef __AMIGA__ in the source you can try to add the define to the config options (e.g. CFLAGS="-nix -D__AMIGA__").

Understanding error messages

Error: No return statement in function returning non-void
There is no return in a function that needs a return.
Error: Control reaches end of non-void function
It is reaching the end of a function that needs to return a value, but there is no return.
Error: May be used uninitialized in this function
The variable is not initialized.
Warning: implicit declaration of function 'blah blah'
You need to include a header.

Common errors

warning: incompatible implicit declaration of built-in function 'exit'; warning: incompatible implicit declaration of built-in function 'abort':


#include <stdlib.h>

warning: implicit declaration of function 'strlen'; warning: incompatible implicit declaration of built-in function 'strlen':


#include <string.h>

warning: implicit declaration of function 'memcpy'; warning: incompatible implicit declaration of built-in function 'memcpy':


#include <string.h>

error: memory.h: No such file or directory:


#include <string.h>

error: malloc.h: No such file or directory:


#include <stdlib.h>

warning: incompatible implicit declaration of built-in function 'printf':


#include <stdio.h>

warning: implicit declaration of function 'MyRemove':


#define MyRemove Remove

Tips and tricks

How do I search for text strings using GREP?

grep -R "I am looking for this" *

How do I make a DIFF file with my changes?

diff originalfile.c mychangedfile.c >./originalfile.patch
My executeable is crashing, how do I debug it?
Look in Debugging manual. You can use sys:utilities/snoopy to find out what your application tries to do.

How do I redirect GCC warnings and errors to a text file?

make 2>warnings.txt

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