Installing Mercurial from Source - Open Source Mercurial: The Definitive Guide

Mercurial: The Definitive Guide  book cover

This excerpt is from Mercurial: The Definitive Guide . This definitive guide takes you step by step through ways to track, merge, and manage both open source and commercial software projects with Mercurial, using Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, and other systems.

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On a Unix-Like System

If you are using a Unix-like system that has a sufficiently recent version of Python (2.3 or newer) available, it is easy to install Mercurial from source. Here’s how:

  1. Download a recent source tarball from

  2. Unpack the tarball:

    gzip -dc mercurial-MYVERSION.tar.gz | tar xf -
  3. Go into the source directory and run the installer script. This will build Mercurial and install it in your home directory.

    cd mercurial-MYVERSION
    python install --force --home=$HOME

Once the install finishes, Mercurial will be in the bin subdirectory of your home directory. Don’t forget to make sure that this directory is present in your shell’s search path.

You will probably need to set the PYTHONPATH environment variable so that the Mercurial executable can find the rest of the Mercurial packages. For example, on my laptop, I have set it to /home/bos/lib/python. The exact path that you will need to use depends on how Python was built for your system, but should be easy to figure out. If you’re uncertain, look through the output of the installer script above, and see where the contents of the mercurial directory were installed to.

On Windows

Building and installing Mercurial on Windows requires a variety of tools, a fair amount of technical knowledge, and considerable patience. I very much do not recommend this route if you are a “casual user.” Unless you intend to hack on Mercurial, I strongly suggest that you use a binary package instead.

If you are intent on building Mercurial from source on Windows, follow the “hard way” directions on the Mercurial wiki at, and expect the process to involve a lot of fiddly work.

If you enjoyed this excerpt, buy a copy of Mercurial: The Definitive Guide.