Installing OCaml and Camlp5 to compile GeneWeb

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Compiling GeneWeb requires the installation of OCaml and Camlp5. Nowadays, the simplest method is to install them through OPAM (OCaml preferred package manager) that is able to manage multiple versions of OCaml on the same machine. Note that Camlp5 must be installed for each version of the compiler.

Without OPAM, the old way of doing this was to install/compile OCaml and Camlp5 all by yourself.

When Ocaml and camlp5 are installed, you can clone repository to compile GeneWeb.

Don’t forget that if your base has been built under an old version, it won't be compatible with bases built with new version: one should recover through the .gw format to migrate from one to the other.

For GeneWeb 7

On Linux

Debian Stretch / Buster

This has been tested on Debian Stretch and Buster in July 2019 (debian-9.9.0-amd64-netinst.iso and debian-10.0.0-amd64-netinst.iso).

To install Opam (2.0.5) / OCaml (4.07.01) / Camlp5 (7.06.10)

sudo apt-get install curl make m4 unzip bubblewrap gcc libgmp-dev
sh <(curl -sL
opam init
eval $(opam env)
opam install camlp5 cppo dune.1.11.4 markup stdlib-shims num zarith uucp unidecode

If ocamlfind install fails, try installing the packages pkg-config or m4 from your distribution.

Ubuntu Server

This has been tested on Ubuntu Server 18.04.2 LTS in July 2019.

To install Opam (2.0.5) / Ocaml (4.07.1) / Campl5 (7.06.10)

sudo apt-get install curl make m4 unzip bubblewrap gcc libgmp-dev
sh <(curl -sL
opam init
eval $(opam env)
opam install camlp5 cppo dune.1.11.4 markup stdlib-shims num zarith uucp unidecode


This has been tested on Raspbian GNU/Linux 10 (Buster) in July 2019.

To install Opam (2.0.4) / Ocaml (4.07.1) / Campl5 (7.06.10)

sudo apt-get install curl make m4 unzip bubblewrap gcc libgmp-dev git
sh <(curl -sL
opam init
eval $(opam env)
opam install camlp5 cppo dune.1.11.4 markup stdlib-shims num zarith uucp unidecode

See also the detailed tutorial installing GeneWeb 7 as webserver on a Raspberry Pi OS.

On macOS

This has been tested on macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 in July 2019.

The best way to install Opam/OCaml is to install it with Homebrew, a package management software.

To install Homebrew, open a Terminal window and type or past this command:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Once Homebrew is installed you can continue to install Opam (and any dependencies) in the same Terminal window with these commands:

brew install gpatch protobuf darcs opam 
opam init

After the 'opam init' command, Opam will download and proceed with the installation of the latest switch (4.08.0). If installation of this switch fails, confirm "Y" when asked if the system should be cleaned up, and then enter proceed with the installation of the switch 4.05.0

opam switch create 4.05
eval $(opam env)

and then OCaml and dependencies required to compile GeneWeb 7.

opam pin add --no-action markup git://
opam install camlp5 --unlock-base
opam install cppo dune markup stdlib-shims num zarith

You can now download and compile GeneWeb.

On Windows using Cygwin

This has been tested on Windows 7 x64 and x86 in November 2021.

If you have Windows Powershell (embedded in Windows since XP SP2), this batch script will download/compile/install Cygwin/Opam/OCaml/Camlp5/Ocamfind/GeneWeb for you. You can download the script copying this line on a Windows prompt (command line) with administrator rights:

powershell.exe -Command {(new-object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('','opamwin.bat')}

Then just launch the downloaded script typing opamwin in the same console to install everything.

Without Powershell, you have to download the batch file opamwin.bat and the right Cygwin setup x64 or x86 manually. Launch the script under a prompt with administrator rights and having Cygwin setup in the same directory.

GeneWeb 6.xx with OPAM

On Linux

Sources of GeneWeb 6.04, 6.05 and 6.08 can be build easily with Opam switching to OCaml 3.12.1 (see #435). On Debian:

opam switch 3.12.1
eval `opam config env`
opam install -y camlp5 ocamlfind

When using Opam on old sources, we need to replace the path to Camlp5 CAMLP5D=+camlp5 in tools/ with a sed command after configuring Makefile:

sed -i 's|CAMLP5D=+camlp5|CAMLP5D=~/.opam/3.12.1/lib/camlp5|' tools/
make distrib

You can check the path to Camlp5 with camlp5 -where or ocamlfind query camlp5, for this exemple camlp5 lib is in /root/.opam/3.12.1/lib/camlp5/.


Apply the same process as with Linux, with the exception of the sed command:

sed -i .bak 's|CAMLP5D=+camlp5|CAMLP5D=~/.opam/3.12.1/lib/camlp5|' tools/
make distrib

On Windows

Previous chapter for Linux works for Windows under Cygwin modifying a few steps, OCaml version name is:

opam switch 3.12.1+mingw32

Using relative path or /cygdrive/… don’t work, we must target camlp5 lib using its full Windows path that depends of where is your home directory in Cygwin installation:

sed -i 's|CAMLP5D=.*|CAMLP5D=c:\\cygwin\\home\\user\\.opam\\3.12.1+mingw32\\lib\\camlp5|' tools/

Building version 6.07 like this also works under Windows.

Clone repository and compile GeneWeb

GeneWeb uses the version control software Git. Its repository is hosted on Github at To compile GeneWeb, you need OCaml.

git clone
cd geneweb
ocaml ./ && make distrib

If GeneWeb compilation fails, look at continuous integration tools to see if latest build is passing on your plateform.

Build options

./configure options:

     show this help
     build the API
     add debugging symbols to the build command
     run configure interactively
     statically link libraries
     treat warnings as errors

For example, if you want debug symbols/warnings use ./configure -d -we then you can launch gwd adding OCAMLRUNPARAM=b to trigger the printing of a stack backtrace when an uncaught exception aborts the program.

Build GeneWeb gui

In version 6.xx, an user friendly GTK gui helps managing gwd and gwsetup, it can be build with lablgtk installed.

 opam install lablgtk
 make everything

GeneWeb/OCaml/Camlp5 compability chart

GeneWeb Ocaml Camlp4/5
1.07-2.07 2.01-2.02 p4*
3.01-3.03 2.01-2.04 p4*
3.04-3.07 2.01-3.00 p4*
3.08-4.01 3.00 p4*
4.02 3.01 p4*
4.03 3.02 p4*
4.04-4.07 3.04
4.08-4.09 3.06 p4*
4.10 3.08
5.02 3.11 p5 6.02.1**
6.00-6.08 3.12.1 p5 6.04-6.16
7.00 4.09.1 p5 7.12
master 4.02.3-4.11.2 p5 6.13-7.14

* “same version number” for camlp4 as Ocaml version number

** Dominique Deram, compilation under Windows XP (jan. 2011)

GeneWeb Manual

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Use and manage genealogical databases

Technical annex