Python can be built from source, but the easiest way is to
get a binary package for your type of system and version of Python.
This document will give you information on either type of installation.
Windows Binary Installer
Unix Binary Packages
This is probably the most popular method of installation. If you are
running on windows, it is highly recommended you use this form
of installing. The installers come with with nearly everything
you need and have an easy point and click installers.
The first thing you will need is an installation of Python. Python
binary installers make it easy to get this done. Pygame binaries
usually come for the latest 2 releases of Python, so you'll want to be fairly
up to date.
Once that is in place, you want to download the appropriate
windows binary. From the pygame downloads page you can find the .EXE
file you need. This will automatically install all of pygame and all the SDL
dependencies. The windows binaries have filenames like this: "pygame-1.8.0release.win32-py2.5.msi".
This would be the installer for pygame version 1.8.0, for Python version 2.5. You
shouldn't have trouble finding the correct binary from the "Windows" section
of the download page.
You will also probably want to install the windows documentation and
installation package. This will add easy links to the different documentation
and games that come with pygame. The installer for this is found
next to the other windows binary downloads. The filename looks like this:
"pygame-docs-1.8.0.exe". And this would install the documentation and
examples for pygame-1.8.0
One other thing the windows binaries are missing is the Numeric or numpy Python
packages. You can easily install this separately and it will allow you to use
the pygame "surfarray" module. This module is optional, so there is no need
to do this. A Numeric for Windows python 2.5 can be found on the download page: http://www.pygame.org/download.shtml. There are older binary installers from the Numeric download page.
PixelArray, which is built into pygame 1.8+, and is usually quite a lot faster is the recommended array implementation to use. Numpy is newer than Numeric, however both are not entirely compatible.
Mac OS X Binaries
For many unix systems, the easiest way to install pygame is
from source. Still, there are binary packages available for
There are several binary RPM packages for linux machines. These are
actually a little bit of work to install, since you will also need several
RPM packages for the dependencies. There is a good chance
your linux distribution came with the needed dependencies (like Python
and SDL). There are binary RPMs available from the website for each dependency.
For debian systems, pygame is actively maintained in the debian
archives. Visit the debian pygame page for more information.
FreeBSD also has an active pygame package. While techinicaly it
isn't binary, it is automatically built and installed by the
ports manager. See the FreeBSD package page for more information.
Gentoo has a builtin package for pygame. This is compiled for
your system as it installs, similar to BSD,
For Mac OS X 10.3 and above, binary packages are available from
This package includes almost of the dependencies required for pygame
(SDL, SDL_image, etc.), but you need PyObjC 1.2 or later, and may
also want to get Numeric, numpy and PyOpenGL. A PyObjC 1.4 installer is also made available on the download page.
If you want to use the Apple system python, you will need to compile from source at this time - since most people prefer to leave the system python alone, and use the python downloaded from python.org. See http://pygame.org/wiki/MacCompile for current instructions for compiling from source on Mac OSX.
pygame is also available from the fink, and macports distributions.
To build self-contained pygame applications, you should use py2app.
There is an example in:
Installing From Source
Windows Compiling Info
Compiling and installing pygame is handled by Python's distutils.
Pygame also comes with some scripts to automatically configure
the flags needed to build pygame. Use the "setup.py" script to
start the installation.
The first time you run the setup script, it will call the
"config.py" script. This will build a "Setup" file which
stores all the information needed to compile. The "config.py"
will do a good job of detecting what dependencies are available
and where they are located. If it isn't perfect, it is easy to
build your own, or edit the created "Setup" text file. This
"Setup" file is a simple Makefile-like text file. It defines
variables needed to use each dependency, and then enables
all the pygame modules with found dependencies. If you have
trouble compiling, you should be able to easily fix any problems
inside the "Setup" file.
Running the "setup.py" script will call distutils to build and
install the pygame package. Distutils actually supports a wide
variety of compile and install options. running "python setup.py help"
will start to show you the different options available. You can
change many things like install locations, compiler to use, and more.
Calling the "setup.py" script with no arguments and it will just
ask you if you want the default flags needed to compile and install.
Unix Compiling Info
You can compile pygame on windows with mingw (gcc for windows) and also with visual studio.
Up to date details can be found here:
Mac OS X Compiling Info
Compiling from linux shouldn't give you any problems. One thing
you must keep in mind is that most linux RPM packages separate the
actual library from the "dev" files needed to compile. To build you
will need to make sure the packages like "SDL-dev" are
You can check to see if SDL is ready to be built from by running
the command sdl-config and seeing if it is found. If the
sdl-config script is not on the path (or you have more than
one?) Set the environment variable SDL_CONFIG to its location.
Sometimes you will have the SDL libraries installed in once
location, and the other SDL libraries in another. This tricks the
pygame config scripts, but you can help it out by setting the
environment LOCALBASE to a path prefix where the other libraries
are. The common case for this is SDL installed in /usr and other
SDL libs installed in /usr/local. The command for this situation
is "LOCALBASE=/usr/local python setup.py install".
Up to date instructions for compiling on Mac OS X can be found here: