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Installing MinGW, compiling Perl and vim

I am working on a new laptop. The first thing I need to have installed is MinGW, Perl and vim.
Note, the Laptop in question is a Windows Laptop. So, this page is probably less than useless for Unix/Linux users, but they will know that already.

Getting MinGW

MinGW (as of version 3.1.0) consists of the following 7 packages
  • GCC The compiler
  • binutils
    A collection of binary utils of which the most important ones are: ld (the linker) and as (the assembler)
  • mingw-runtime
    The header files and import libraries needed for the CRT and STL.
  • w32api
    The header files and import libraries needed to create Win32 applications.
  • gdb
    The GNU debugger
  • ming32-make
    The make utility
  • mingw-utils
    Consisting of dos2unix.exe, drmingw.exe, pexports.exe, redir.exe, reimp.exe, res2coff.exe, unix2dos.exe
Although these packages can be downloaded seperatly, for first time users, I recommend to download the entire package from It is found in the section labeled Current (and is named MinGW)
Note, however, that MinGW can not be downloaded directly from the download page, instead, by clicking on the link you're brought to the download server of sourceforge where you have to choose a mirror.
The downloaded .exe is a traditional setup program that leads you through the setup process. This site [at as the original site is now defunct] points out that MinGW should not be installed into c:\Program Files. I have never tried, so I don't know if this advice is still valid.
After installing MinGW, the PATH environment variable should be set to the MinGW-dir\bin directory.
MinGW's make utility is called mingw32-make.exe. Because I am too lazy to enter that word when I want to make a project, I create a .bat file called make.bat that calls mingw32-make.exe:
mingw32-make %*

Compiling Perl


Unfortunately, MinGW's make cannot handle the makefiles that come with the source for Perl. dmake is needed. The unzipped dmake.exe should go into a place where %PATH% points at.


The sources for Perl can be downloaded from They're called stable.tar.gz.

Adapting the makefile

In order to compile Perl, one must open the command prompt (cmd.exe) and go to the perl-unzipped-dir\win32 directory.
This directory has a makefile named which will be used. This makefile allows to define some settings. I find the following useful or mandatory:
INST_DRV and INST_TOP. These variables define where Perl's root will be installed. I want Perl to be under c:\perl, so I set these variable like so:
INST_DRV    *= c:
INST_TOP    *= $(INST_DRV)\perl
I am compiling with gcc, so I have to set CCTYPE to GCC:
# MinGW with gcc-2.95.2 or later
CCTYPE        *= GCC
I also need to tell where gcc had been installed through CCHOME. My MinGW's root is c:\rene\MinGW, so I change the (bold) line:
CCHOME           *= C:\borland\bcc55
.ELIF "$(CCTYPE)"  == "GCC"
CCHOME           *= C:\Rene\MinGW
CCHOME           *= $(MSVCDIR)
CCINCDIR         *= $(CCHOME)\include
CCLIBDIR         *= $(CCHOME)\lib


Now, that a c compiler and dmake is installed, and the makefile had been changed, the system is ready to compile Perl. dmake.exe is invoked. The -f flags tells which makefile has to be used.
dmake -f
This should build everything. Specifically, it will create perl.exe, perl58.dll at the perl toplevel, and various other extension dll's under the lib\auto directory.

Testing the compilation

After perl had been compiled, it should be tested. This can also be done with the makefile and its special target test.
dmake -f test
This will perform some tests of which each should be successful. The test will report this with something like:
All tests successful, 56 tests and 684 subtests skipped.
Files=884, Tests=86048, 484 wallclock secs ( 0.00 cusr +  0.00 csys =  0.00 CPU)

Installing Perl

If all tests had been successful, Perl can be installed with the makefile's special target install.
dmake -f install

Setting %PATH%

Setting the path to the bin directory in which Perl was installed ($INST_TOP\bin), in my case, that would be c:\perl\bin

Changing the registry

Optionally, some settings can be entered in the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Perl
  • lib-5.8.5
    Version specific (here: for 5.8.5) standard library path to add to @INC
  • lib
    standard library path to add to @INC
  • sitelib-5.8.5
    version-specific site library path to add to @INC
  • sitelib
    site library path to add to @INC
  • vendorlib-5.8.5
    version-specific vendor library path to add to @INC
  • vendorlib
    vendor library path to add to @INC
  • PERL*
    fallback for all %ENV lookups that begin with "PERL"

Compiling VIM


Vim can be downloaded from
Although I am compiling Vim for Windows, I had to choose the All Unix (sic!) files. This .tar.gz file contains the two important directories src for the sources and runtime for the runtime files. The runtime files are used for syntax highlighting and the like.


Vim comes with a few features that can be enabled or disabled when VIM is compiled. These features can be enabled and disabled through the feature.h file. However, there are five predifined classes of features which can be chosen through the makefile. These classes are: TINY, SMALL, NORMAL, BIG and HUGE. In the makefile, one of these classes can be choses through the FEATURES definition. The according line must be searched and edited.
I want Perl support with my vim, so I have to uncomment the following line and set the value to the installation directory of Perl.
# uncomment 'PERL' if you want a perl-enabled version

Compiling vim

make -f make_ming.mak
This creates gvim.exe.
gvim.exe can now be copied into a directory that %PATH% points at. In order to fine tune gvim, one can create a .vimrc file which should be at the same location wher gvim.exe is. My .vimrc file contains a set backupdir=/temp/vim. This directory must actually exist, otherwise, vim will say E510: Can't make backup file (add! to overwrite).