Source Code

The source code for Gerbil is hosted on Github, with the latest release available in releases.

For the latest Gerbil, you can clone the repository:

$ git clone


The latest Gerbil release (v0.17) requires the separate installation of Gambit v4.9.4 or later; it also supports the previous Gambit release, v4.9.3. Older versions of Gambit, starting with v4.9.1 may also work, but we haven't tested.

Starting with the v0.18 release cycle, there is no external dependency on Gambit any more; it is integrated in Gerbil as a git submodule

The core system has no outside depencies, but the standard library has some mostly optional dependencies. The only hard dependency is libssl and libcrypto from OpenSSL; important parts of the standard library require it and we refuse to ship software without SSL/TLS support in the 2020s.

All the other dependencies are soft. Most library modules with foreign dependencies are external packages, with the exception of zlib and sqlite. These are ubiquitous, stable and generally useful enough to warrant being present in the standard library and enabled by default; you can still disable them if you want for a minimal installation.

In Ubuntu, you can install the dependencies for a default installation with:

$ sudo apt install libssl-dev zlib1g-dev libsqlite3-dev

The optional libraries can be enabled or disabled by passing arguments to the configure script (see below).

Build Instructions

After unpacking a release or checking out the source code from Github, cd into the gerbil directory.

Gerbil takes quite a while to compile, if you wish it to build faster by utilizing multiple cores, you can:

make -j<number-of-cores>

Alternatively, you can set the GERBIL_BUILD_CORES environment variable to the number of cores you want to use.

If you are using the default configuration, you can build Gerbil simply with:

$ ./configure && make && sudo make install

This will install Gerbil in /opt/gerbil; you will need to add /opt/gerbil/bin to your PATH environment variable.

By default, the configuration will enable shared libraries, which is the sane thing to do for a development workstation or laptop. On the other hand, if you want to build statically linked binaries, you can disable shared libraries by configuring like this:

$ ./configure --disable-shared

If you need to override some configuration defaults, you will have to use the following (with your own set of configuration options):

$ ./configure --prefix=/path/to/which/to/install/gerbil \
  --enable-feature1 --enable-feature2 --disable-feature3 --disable-feature4 --enable-feature5
$ make && sudo make install

Various features can be enabled or disabled by passing --enable-FEATURE or --disable-FEATURE to ./configure. Use ./configure --help to see which features are available.

Installation using Binary Release Packages

If you want to install the latest release (v0.18), you can also use the precompiled binary packages for Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and CentOS. They are available in the v0.18 release page.

Installation on MacOS

Gerbil is available via a homebrew recipe. If you are on MacOS, you can build using the brew formula.

$ wget
$ brew install --formula -vd gerbil-scheme.rb

Feel free to check out the MacOS Details if needed.

Note Currently, this is not yet upstreamed. The brew recipe will be updated for v0.18 once the release is ready and available by default for all homebrew users.

Skip the Install, Get Started on Docker

The latest Gerbil images are available via Docker Hub

Alpine based version:

docker pull gerbil/gerbil:$(uname -m)

To get to the REPL:

docker run -it gerbil/gerbil:$(uname -m)

To get a bash shell where you can compile programs:

docker run -it gerbil/gerbil:$(uname -m) bash

Or you can build your own container using the Dockerfile. See the Docker Gulde for additional information.

Using Nix and/or Docker

You can install Gerbil using Nix. See for more details.

There are also Docker containers based on Nix, with some gerbil libraries also installed, at mukn/glow:devel or with many libraries installed.

See the scripts directory of Gerbil Clan for details.