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Getting Started Windows

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Revision as of 16:13, 6 January 2011 by BankP (talk | contribs) (Again...)
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Building libfreenect from Source

Getting the source files

There are 2 ways to get the latest source:

  • Go to the OpenKinect project github, select the branch you want (master or unstable for instance) and click the "Download" button (then extract the files to a convenient location).


  • Use Git to create and keep an up to date project folder and access any branch locally:

Using Git

  • Download and install Git with these settings:
    • Accept the license etc.
    • Choose the level of shell integration you want
    • Choose "Run git from the Windows Command prompt"
    • Choose "Check out WIndows style, commits Unix-style line endings"
  • Open a Command Prompt, cd to the directory where you want the source folder (libfreenect) created and type:
$ git clone
  • Then cd to the libfreenect folder. This is the up to date master branch of the project and you can configure it and build it at this point. You could also create a local branch for the remote unstable branch (or any other existing branch) so that you can conveniently check it out later:
$ git branch --track unstable origin/unstable   
  • The "git branch" command will show you the different branches (here master and unstable) and which one is currently selected. You can also view the development logs for the branch you're checking out with the "git log" command (use shift-Q to exit the log).
  • From now on, you can just cd to the libfreenect folder, and select the branch you want to checkout:
$ git checkout master


$ git checkout unstable
  • Also make sure the files are the latest:
$ git pull
  • The contents of the libfreenect folder will interactively change as you checkout a specific branch (magic!) so you don't need to search for a specific "branch" folder inside the libfreenect directory. Just checkout the branch you want to configure and proceed using the libfreenect folder as source. This setup allows you to easily switch between the master and unstable branch and then configure the one you want to try.

Master vs. unstable branch

If you plan on changing libfreenect, writing wrappers, or trying the latest developments you might want to check out the unstable branch. Unstable has the latest commits that have not been fully tested yet.

  • Take note that the master and unstable branches were synced on Jan. 6, 2011; see this update for more information.

After you have the source files, you should download the dependencies required to configure and build the library and then install the hardware driver...


For each required dependency, first download and install the libraries (.dll) on your system and then identify the paths to the libraries (.lib or .a) and header (.h) files which you will need later on to configure the source project using cmake:

Dependency Install Library/includes to be used with cmake
libusb-win32 - download and extract the latest This will be taken care of when we install the driver in the next section The /lib and /include folders contain the libraries and header files required to configure the project; depending on the compiler you choose, you may have to specify a different library file:
  • For instance, to configure for MS Visual Studio 2010, use /lib/msvc/libusb.lib or if you plan to use mingw, use /lib/gcc/libusb.a

For more info see the libusb-win32 readme and their wiki

pthreads-win32 - download and extract the latest pthreads-w32-x-x-x-release.exe Find the /lib folder and copy the appropriate library to /windows/system (see Library/includes) The /lib and /include contain the libraries and header files required to configure the project; depending on the compiler you choose, you may have to specify a different library file:
  • For instance, to configure for MS Visual Studio 2010, use /lib/pthreadVC2.lib or if you plan to use mingw, use /lib/pthreadGC2.a.
  • In both cases you will need to install the corresponding library .dll file to /windows/system i.e. phtreadVC2.dll or pthreadGC2.dll

For more info see the pthreads-win32 readme and their FAQ

Glut - download and extract the latest Find the glut32.dll file and copy it to /windows/system
  • With MSVC, the glut.h header file should always be in the /include/GL folder and the glut32.lib library in the /lib folder of your VC tree(for instance /Program Files/Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0/VC/). If you built glut from source, the files should already be there.
  • In cmake-gui, supply the path to the header up to the /include folder (NOT ../include/GL) and the path to the library itself (../lib/glut32.lib).

For more info see the glut readme

Driver installation

There are two parts to libfreenect -- the low-level libusb-based device driver and libfreenect itself, the library that talks to the driver. You only need to install the driver once.

Windows 7: step-by-step walkthrough (should also work with Windows XP!)

  • Plug in your Kinect. Windows will warn that no device driver was found for the plugged device (the LED of Kinect will not turn on). If Windows presents a dialog asking to search for drivers, simply cancel it.
  • Open the Device Manager: Start >> Control Panel >> System and Security >> System >> Device Manager
  • A device called "Xbox NUI Motor" should be somewhere there (most probably be under "Other devices") with a small yellow warning symbol "!" on top of its icon. Right click on it, and select "Update Driver Software...", then click on "Browse my computer for driver software".
  • "Browse" and select the folder where the "XBox_NUI_Motor.inf" is located (/platform/windows/inf inside your libfreenect source folder). Click "Next" and if warned by Windows that a non-certified driver is about to be installed, just order it to install it anyway.
  • After that, the Kinect LED should start blinking green. Now there will be two additional devices in the Device Manager list: "Xbox NUI Camera" and "Xbox NUI Audio". Repeat the above instructions for them as well.

You are now ready to configure libfreenect before building...

Configuring with cmake-gui

Follow these steps to configure libfreenect for compiling:

  1. Download Cmake (Cross-Platform Make) and make sure you have a working C compiler (Visual Studio 2010 or MinGW)
  2. Launch Cmake-GUI and select your /libfreenect folder as source, select an output folder and then click on the "Configure" button
  3. Select the C compiler you want to use
  4. Unresolved dependencies will show up as red in the CMake GUI. Use the "advanced" and "grouped" checkboxes to display more variables and categorize them. (NOTE: For now only select the EXAMPLES and C_SYNC options in BUILD. The other build options such as FAKENECT have not been updated for Visual Studio yet)
  5. Supply the missing paths to the dependencies by following these guidelines, and click the "Configure" button again:
    1. The *_LIBRARY variables need to point to actual .lib files not a folder
    2. INCLUDE variables need to point to the appropriate include directories
  6. When all errors have been resolved, click on the "Generate" button to create the makefiles for your compiler.
  • See this sceenshot of a sample cmake configuration for MS Visual Studio 2010: 1


Now that the project is configured, open libfreenect.sln from your output folder and build it with Visual Studio. Then look for your compiled files in /bin and /lib

  • If you're having issues compiling check out the readme in the /libfreenect/platform/windows folder for more information.


To do a quick test you can run /bin/glview.exe with the libraries from /lib

  • It's also a good idea to check the wrappers section and the mailing list for more ideas and solutions...