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Build troubleshooting

Desktop application

On Windows

If yarn dist fails, it may need administrative rights.

If you get an error MSB8020: The build tools for v140 cannot be found. try to run with a different toolset version, eg npm install --toolset=v141 (See here for more info). You may also try to install npm --vs2015 install --global windows-build-tools (the --vs2015 flag is to get toolkit "v140", which is what is used by default).

There are various errors that can occur from an improper build environment (such as MSBUILD: error MSB3428). It is recommended to install windows-build-tools with the command npm install --global windows-build-tools (elevation required) and then using these two commands to set the environmental variables to the proper values:

call "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\BuildTools\VC\Auxiliary\Build\vcvarsamd64_x86.bat" 
set "PATH=C:\Program Files\nodejs;%PATH%"

On Linux and macOS

If there's an error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory, run sudo apt-get install libgconf-2-4

If you get a node-gyp related error, you might need to manually install it: npm install -g node-gyp.

If you get unexpected npm dependency errors on a fresh git pull, try npm run clean

If npm i gives you a fatal error like the following:

node-pre-gyp WARN Tried to download(403): 
node-pre-gyp WARN Pre-built binaries not found for sqlite3@5.0.1 and node@14.15.4 (node-v83 ABI, glibc) (falling back to source compile with node-gyp)
/bin/sh: 1: python: not found

Try sudo apt install python (or the apt equivalent for your operating system) and then run npm i again.

If you get the error libtool: unrecognized option '-static', follow the instructions in this post to use the correct libtool version.

Other issues

The application window doesn't open or is white

This is an indication that there's an early initialisation error. Try this:

  • In ElectronAppWrapper, set debugEarlyBugs to true. This will force the window to show up and should open the console next to it, which should display any error.
  • In more rare cases, an already open instance of Joplin can create strange low-level bugs that will display no error but will result in this white window. A non-dev instance of Joplin, or a dev instance that wasn't properly closed might cause this. So make sure you close everything and try again. Perhaps even other Electron apps running (Skype, Slack, etc.) could cause this?
  • Also try to delete node_modules and rebuild.
  • If all else fails, switch your computer off and on again, to make sure you start clean.

The application window doesn't open or is white

How to work on the app from Windows?

You should not use WSL at all because this is a GUI app that lives outside of WSL, and the WSL layer can cause all kind of very hard to debug issues. It can also lock files in node_modules that cannot be unlocked when the app crashes. (You need to restart your computer.) Likewise, don't run the TypeScript watch command from WSL.

So everything should be done from a Windows Command prompt or Windows PowerShell running as Administrator. All build and start commands are designed to work cross-platform, including on Windows.

Mobile application


If there is an error /joplin/packages/app-mobile/ios/Pods/Target Support Files/Pods-Joplin/Pods-Joplin.debug.xcconfig: unable to open file (in target "Joplin" in project "Joplin") (in target 'Joplin' from project 'Joplin') run the following commands:

cd ios
pod deintegrate
pod install