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Getting Started Compiling and Installing SWORD from Source


This page is intended to help anyone who needs to get started obtaining and compiling the very latest SWORD source code, and then installing and testing it on their machine, on a Linux (or possibly other Unix-like) operating system.

""NOTE: This process includes making Internet connections to, to download source code and a sample SWORD module.""


There are four main steps involved:

  • Installing all the necessary software packages
  • Downloading the latest development SWORD source code
  • Compiling and installing SWORD
  • Testing that the new SWORD installation is basically working

All of these can be scripted for a specific Linux distribution, and some sample scripts are provided below. An explanation of each step is also provided, in case you want to understand what the script does (!), or there is no script for your particular Linux distribution.

Scripts for some Linux distributions

The bash scripts below use sudo to become root when necessary, see below for more details on that.


PKGS="subversion build-essential autotools-dev pkg-config libz-dev libclucene-dev libicu-dev libcurl4-gnutls--dev"
sudo apt-get install $PKGS -y
svn co sword
cd sword
./ && ./ && make && sudo make install && sudo make install_config

Fedora 10

Fedora 11



Test script

The is a very basic test; in particular it does not check indexed search functions at all.

export SWORD_PATH=~/.sword
mkdir -p $SWORD_PATH/mods.d
echo yes |installmgr -init
echo yes |installmgr -sc
echo yes |installmgr -r CrossWire
echo yes |installmgr -ri CrossWire KJV
installmgr -l
diatheke -b KJV -k Jn 3:16

Becoming root (using sudo)

In order to install software (including installing SWORD itself), you will need to be able to temporarily "become" root.

Most Linux (and several *BSD) distributions include a tool called sudo than can do this very conveniently, once set up, without having to repeatedly enter a root password. On some Linux distributions (including Ubuntu) this is already set up for you during the installation process. On others, you will need to

  • Become root (i.e. obtain a root comamnd shell) in some other way (log in as root, or use su, and type in the root password when prompted for it).
  • Ue the command
    to edit the sudo configuration file.
  • Add a line
    yourusername ALL=(ALL) ALL
    to the file, save the change and and exit your text editor.
After that, you should be able to type
sudo id
to run the (harmless) command id as root. sudo will prompt you for your own password, but if it is used more than once within a short period, will "remember" that you have already provided it and not ask for it again. This is very convenient.

Installing necessary software packages

Starting from a fairly minimal Linux installation, a C++ compiler and several other libraries and tools must be added to the system before compiling SWORD. These come in packages. The command to install packages varies between different Linux distributions. A few examples follow:

Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS
sudo yum install <list of packages>
Debian, Ubuntu, Mint
sudo apt-get install <list of packages>
sudo urpmi <list of packages>

These packaging tools will automatically install additional dependent packages, so the ones you request will work once installed.

Package names vary too, but generally the following packages must be installed:

  • subversion (a tool used to obtain the latest SWORD source code, see below)
  • the GNU C++ compiler, often in a package named g++ or gcc-c++
  • make
  • libtool
  • icu
  • zlib-devel (sometimes named zlib1g-dev)
  • clucene-core-devel (sometimes named libclucene-dev)
  • libicu-devel (sometimes named libicu-dev)
  • libcurl-devel (named libcurl4-gnutls-dev on Debian-derived systems)

These will generally automatically "pull in" other necessary packages such as binutils, automake and autoconf as dependencies.

Download the SWORD source code

The single command
svn sword
will download the current development code of SWORD, into a directory called sword. If it asks you about the SSL key, type p (for permanent, so it remembers the key) and press Enterm and it will continue. Once the command finishes, you should be able to do
cd sword
and look at all the source code you just downloaded.

Compile and install SWORD

You can read the INSTALL file for the details, but if all is well, after cd sword (so you are inside the SWORD source code directory) you can do
./ && ./ && make
to configure and compile SWORD.

If this fails, make sure you have all the necessary packages installed on your system, and after that, ask for help in the Crosswire forums at .

To install SWORD,After successfully compiling SWORD, you can do
sudo make install && sudo make install_config
to install SWORD and a default configuration file on your machine.

Testing a new SWORD installation

As a very basic test, you can download and install the KJV SWORD "module" and then check that the command line bible reader diatheke can read a verse from it. The commands to do this (using the usual bash shell) are:

export SWORD_PATH=~/.sword
mkdir -p $SWORD_PATH/mods.d

echo yes |installmgr -init
echo yes |installmgr -sc
echo yes |installmgr -r CrossWire
echo yes |installmgr -ri CrossWire KJV
installmgr -l
diatheke -b KJV -k Jn 3:16

If that displays a bunch of text, and then something very similar to:

John 3:16: 
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


then the SWORD installation is basically working.