Building the Zotero Desktop App on Windows

Note: If you 1) primarily work on macOS or Linux and just want to test a build on Windows; 2) have WSL installed, you don't need to follow these steps. You can simply create an unpackaged Windows build on your main system/WSL with app/scripts/dir_build -p w and run the application in app/staging/ from Windows.

Instructions for building the Zotero desktop app assume a POSIX-compliant system capable of handling symbolic links. These instructions will work out-of-the box on most Linux and macOS systems, but Windows requires a few extra steps.

  1. Install Node.js (Node 18 LTS recommended) and Cygwin. During Cygwin setup, in the “Select Packages” step, select the following additional packages to install: “git”, “p7zip”, “python3”, “wget”, “xz”, “zip”, and “unzip”.
  2. Run Cygwin Terminal as Administrator (right click → Run as Administrator). Run the following commands in that Cygwin terminal, in a single session.
  3. Force Cygwin to use native windows symlinks:
    export CYGWIN="winsymlinks:nativestrict"
  4. Clone the Zotero source code without checking it out:
    git clone --config core.symlinks=true --no-checkout zotero-client
  5. Change to the source code repo, check out required files, and install Node.js modules:
    cd zotero-client
    git checkout HEAD package.json package-lock.json
    npm install
  6. Check out the remaining files, creating valid symbolic links:
    git checkout -f HEAD
    git submodule update --init --recursive

    Note: If you are seeing here errors of the form “error: unable to create symlink […]: Operation not permitted” then you are not running Cygwin as an administrator (see step 2 above).

  7. Fetch rcedit, which is an additional build dependency on Windows:
  8. Continue building the app with app/scripts/build_and_run -r, as explained on Building the Zotero Desktop App

Troubleshooting Errors

line 2: $'\r' : command not found

This error is caused by the Cygwin shell misinterpreting Windows line endings in the Node executable. Rerun the Cygwin installer, add the “dos2unix” package, then run:

dos2unix "$(which npm)" "$(which npx)"
dev/client_coding/building_the_desktop_app_windows_notes.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/17 06:17 by xiangyu