Installing Open Watcom on Linux

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Current official release

A binary release, statically linked, for all x86 32-bit systems is available for download. The installer is a character mode (run in console or terminal) full screen program. Here are a few steps to help install it. This compiler should also be installed to compile OW from source on Linux.



Where X is the major and Y is the minor version number of the release.

Start a console/terminal session. Change to the directory where the files were saved. Run a command to verify the download with the help of the .md5 file.

md5sum -c open-watcom-c-linux-X.Y.md5

When the download integrity test has been performed, type:

chmod 755 open-watcom-c-linux-X.Y

to make the file executable. Type:


to start the installation. The most important question during the setup is whether full or partial installation should be performed. Unless the available space is really limited, go with full installation. The installation program also asks for a destination path. For a single person installation, use something like:


If you want to make an installation for all users, /usr/local/watcom or /opt/watcom may be acceptable locations. If you want to be able to run several versions in parallel, watcom can be replaced with owXY in all the alternatives mentioned above.

The file expansion and copying is performed.

  • NOTE: The setup program has been reported to fail on some versions of Linux with an error about a floating point exception. This error is very misleading and happens because the installer searches for an entry in the terminal info database (terminfo) referenced by the TERM environment variable, but either does not find the entry or cannot find the database at all. The easy way around is to force the installer to search in the correct place using environment variable TERMINFO to point to the actual location of the terminfo database, or to change the TERM environment variable to point to an existing terminal description file (often xterm-color works).
export TERMINFO=/lib/terminfo

If needed here, then this environment variable should also be added to (see below)

You may have to add the line

export WATCOM=[location where Open Watcom is installed]

before the other lines with the same form in, at least if you want to use wcl386. You may find it convenient to copy to your own space and edit it to include other environment settings if desired. For example settings such as

export WCL386="-zq"
export WCC386="-zq -w4"
export WPP386="-zq -w4"

pass the indicated options to the specified programs. The options above suppress the banner line and activate full warnings (as an example).

Finally, to make the environment settings made in active in the current shell, write either




At this point you should be able to use all the OW programs that is functional on your platform. Look in the watcom/binl directory to get an idea of what is available.

Old build (unofficial)

Ark Linux contains an openwatcom package.

Ark Linux users should just

apt-get install openwatcom

Users of other RPM based distributions may want to try the i586 binary pacakge or rebuilding the Source RPM.

Gentoo initial ebuild submitted at

Older build (unofficial)

NOTE: This binary version contains 1.6 rc2. If you want a newer version the source package must be downloaded and built.

The easiest way to install Open Watcom on Linux is to use the .deb packages made by Blair Campbell <blairdude at gmail dot com>. They are available at:

How to install older (unofficial) versions

  • Download and install the packages for each of the targets you want. For example, you'll need the openwatcom-target-386-linux package if you want to produce Linux binaries from your source code, or one of the DOS-targeting packages if you want to produce DOS .exe files. Your distribution's dependency resolution will ensure you have the rest of the packages you need.


  • The help files are in the openwatcom-help package.
  • Blair writes, "The startup code is in a misc package or something like that."
  • Currently there are no source packages
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