Build instructions

Crosswords and Crossword Editor build on most modern Linux distributions and MacOS (build hints). It was developed primarily on Fedora and OpenSUSE and should build easily on those platforms with few add-ons. It has dependencies on GTK 4.10, libadwaita-1.2, and libpanel-1.3 which will be built submodules if not installed.

The easiest way to build and test Crosswords from source is by building a flatpak. This command will build and install it:

$ flatpak-builder  --force-clean _flatpak/ org.gnome.Crosswords.Devel.json  --user --install
$ # To run the output:
$ flatpak run org.gnome.Crosswords.Devel

Local build from a container image

An easy way to set up a development environment is to use podman to download and run a container image. This image already contains all the dependencies for Crosswords, so you don’t have to mess around with your core system packages. distrobox is a useful wrapper around podman.

Install podman and distrobox on your distro, and then:

cd crosswords   # wherever you did your "git clone"
bash ci/

In the Crosswords source tree, ci/ is a script that will invoke podman pull to download the container image that you can use for development. It is the same image that Crosswords uses for its continuous integration pipeline (CI), so you can have exactly the same setup on your own machine.

Then, the script will give you instructions on how to use distrobox to build and install Crosswords inside the container:

Now run this:

  distrobox create --image $IMAGE_NAME --name crosswords
  distrobox enter crosswords

Once inside the container, you can build and install with this:

  sudo sh ci/

You can just run crosswords on the shell afterwards.  It is installed to
the overlay /usr filesystem, and will not interfere with your system:


Run those commands from the script with the correct $IMAGE_NAME.

Now you can build and install Crosswords while inside the container. With the instructions above, the Crosswords program will get installed to the container’s overlay file system for /usr without affecting your main system.

Note: When done with this, you can remove the image by calling distrobox rm crosswords.

Local build

Use standard meson tools to build it locally on Linux. You’ll need recent versions of most libraries to get this to build. In general, we test crosswords on the latest released Fedora, openSUSE, and Ubuntu, but it’s not guaranteed to build on older versions.

$ meson setup _build -Dlocaledir=/usr/share/locale
$ ninja -C _build

Note: We set localedir just so that we can find translations of language names. It’s not necessary, but there will be a runtime warning about missing translations without it.

Note: The meson in Ubuntu 21.10 isn’t recent enough to build this app. You can install a local version of meson that’s sufficiently new by running pip3 install --user meson.

Load .puz files (Optional)

In order to use the convertor to load other crossword types, you need to install some python dependencies. The easiest way to do this is to use pip:

$ pip install -r requirements.txt

Running Crosswords without installation

Running it locally out of the builddir is a little more involved as it requires some environment variables set to work. To make this simple and avoid a full system installation, a run script is included.

Use it as follows:

$ cd _build/

$ # To run the game
$ ./run ./src/crosswords

$ # To run the crossword editor
$ ./run ./src/crossword-editor

$ # To use the convertor
$ ./run ./tools/ipuz-convertor -i puzzle.puz -o /path/to/puzzle.ipuz

$ # To debug the game
$ ./run gdb ./src/crosswords

$ # To run crossword tests
$ ./run ninja test

Loading Puzzle Sets

If you want to test the game with another puzzle-set without installation, you can use the PUZZLE_SET_PATH and PATH environment variables. As an example:

$ PATH=~/Projects/puzzle-sets-xword-dl/ PUZZLE_SET_PATH=~/Projects/puzzle-sets-xword-dl/_build/puzzle-sets/ ./run src/crosswords

Common problems


Meson doesn’t rebuild the compiled gschemas file when the source gschema file changes. If you see an error that looks similar to this after a rebuild:

$ ./run src/crosswords
(crosswords:100131): GLib-GIO-ERROR **: 09:46:51.527: Settings schema 'org.gnome.Crosswords' does not contain a key named 'hidden-puzzle-sets'
Trace/breakpoint trap (core dumped)

You’ll have to recreate the compiled file. Assuming you’re still in _build, this should fix it:

$ rm data/gschemas.compiled
$ ninja -C .