Table of Contents

Compile MESS 0.161

The compile instructions for MESS have changed starting with version 0.162. These instructions are for versions 0.161 and older. For current compile instructions, go here.

Compiling MESS is essentially the same process as building MAME, but after the make or mingw32-make command you add TARGET=mess. Read on for step-by-step instructions.

Note: the compiler used for MESS and MAME on Windows has changed starting with version 0.137. You will need to download a new set of build tools if you were previously set up for compiling 0.136. See Compile MESS 0.136 and earlier on Windows for the older instructions.

Setting up the source

MESS is developed as a patch for the MAME source, so the MESS source distribution does not include important files like the makefile, which come from MAME.

To obtain the complete source from SVN, follow the instructions here.

Otherwise, download the MESS source and the MAME source with the same version number. Extract the MAME source into a directory somewhere, then extract the MESS source overtop of it, overwriting files if prompted.

Setting up the build tools on Windows

Download the Build Tools (or from and follow the instructions to install them. To verify your install, open a command line window and try the following:

C:\>gcc --version
gcc (GCC) 4.4.3 20091223 (prerelease) r155431
Copyright (C) 2009 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions.  There is NO

The output should be the same or similar. If there is an error message like this:

C:\>gcc --version
'gcc' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

Then your path environment variable is not setup correctly. To fix this temporarily, use the following command:

C:\>path C:\MinGW\mingw64-w32\bin;%path%


C:\>path C:\MinGW\mingw64-w64\bin;%path%


If you installed the tools into a different directory, change the location appropriately.

Building MESS on Windows

You are now ready to compile MESS. To do so, change to the directory where you installed the MESS (and MAME) sources using the cd command and drive letters. For example:


D:\>cd mess


To start the build process, type make TARGET=mess

D:\mess>make TARGET=mess
mkdir.exe -p obj/windows/mess
mkdir.exe -p obj/windows/mess/build
mkdir.exe -p obj/windows/mess/emu/audio
mkdir.exe -p obj/windows/mess/emu/cpu
mkdir.exe -p obj/windows/mess/emu/cpu/apexc

This builds the code and creates the mess executables…

When it's finished, you will have a new executable, mess.exe.

You will need to create MESS's config files before running, to do that, type mess -cc:

D:\mess>mess -cc

You have now fully compiled MESS, have fun! :)

To compile the MESS tools (chdman, imgtool, etc.), use make all:

D:\mess>make all

If you are building on a windows platform and you want to build the mess.chm help file (you will need to have installed the HTML Help Workshop), type:

D:\mess>make mess.chm TARGET=mess

To compile a symbols-enabled version for backtracing add SYMBOLS=1:

D:\mess>make TARGET=mess SYMBOLS=1

Building MESS on *nix

Once you've set up the source, building MESS on Linux or other UNIX-based systems is simple (assuming you have the appropriate packages installed for make, gcc, etc.):

$ make TARGET=mess

To compile the MESS tools (chdman, imgtool, etc.), add tools:

$ make TARGET=mess tools

MESS does not provide a 'make install' target at this time; binaries are placed in the top-level MESS directory.

See also