Building biblatex-biber on Windows

I’ve just reinstalled my Strawberry Perl system on Windows, and so had the opportunity to try a clean build of biblatex-biber. I’ve posted before about building this on various platforms, and it now is almost asstraight-forward on Windows as on Linux.

As before, I’ll assume you’ve grabbed the source code, unzipped it and have a Command Prompt running as the Administrator, in the directory where biblatex-biber is unzipped. First, you need to install one support Perl module using

cpan Config::AutoConf

You can then do

perl Build.PL
build installdeps
build test
build install

That’s it! I’m not quite sure why you have to install Config::AutoConf ‘by hand’, but if you don’t then Text::BibTeX still fails to work. However, that is almost as easy as on Linux or MacOS 10.6, so everyone should be able to use biblatex-biber now.

15 thoughts on “Building biblatex-biber on Windows

  1. Not only on Windows. Text::BibTeX refuses to be built without Config::Autoconf also on a machine running Linux Mint 8 (Ubuntu 9.10).

  2. From what I can see, cpanm is a Linux utility, so probably won’t help Windows users. At the very least you’ll always need to install Perl first.

  3. From what I’ve just tried, cpanm works fine on Windows… but not yet with biber-biblatex ! (Well, maybe I’ve done something wrong, however.) Of course, it needs first a Perl install, but it’s just a matter of two minutes and a double-click with Strawberry.

  4. Ok, I had been speaking a bit too fast, I just retried and it’s (almost) working. So, just for the records, here is what I’ve done (with Windows 7) – I put the max details, for whoever it might help :

    (0. I went to, downloaded the fresh new perl, double-clicked the setup .exe to install strawberry to default directory c:strawberry with default options… Really no trouble so far for the average Win user.)

    1. I downloaded last cpanminus source (which was, for instance, App-cpanminus-1.0004.tar.gz ; just go to and click download) ; unarchived it (e.g., with 7-zip).

    2. I opened a new Command Prompt with Admin rights, navigated to the App-cpanminus-1.0004 folder, then typed command line :
    > perl Makefile.PL
    and then :
    > dmake install
    (important : this is where you need admin rights.)
    That’s it, cpanm is now working.

    3. Still with admin rights, I typed in the command prompt window :
    > cpanm
    cpanm takes care of everything… it’s almost magic… but then, as usual, the Text::BibTeX module is causing trouble… So I want to

    3bis. At this point, every other needed module is installed (i.e, including Config::AutoConf), so I just gave another try :
    > cpanm Text::BibTeX
    … which now works fine, and then again :
    > cpanm
    That’s it ! “Successfully installed biblatex-biber-v0.5.3”, it says…

    Following what Joseph did with the standard “cpan” command, I guess the step “3 + 3bis” should work if replaced by :
    > cpanm Config::AutoConf
    > cpanm
    but that’s just an assumption, I didn’t try. Moreover, I suppose it’s not too crazy to think that cpanm will be included in perl distributions in the near future, right ? (3 months ? 6 months ? I don’t know, but surely no more than 1 year, that’s my guess…) So eventually, my steps 1 & 2 will then disappear, and you’ll just need :
    1. installing strawberry, which is like installing any app on Windows ;
    2. type two lines in the Command Prompt.

    Have a good day !


  5. (oops ! sorry for the typo : at end of step 3, you should read “I went to” (i.e “I went to step 3bis”) instead of “I want to”…)

  6. Hi,

    Benjamin’s method is works like a charm on Windows Vista and Seven. But that’s not the case on my XP test machine where, if I’m right, it is impossible to launch “Command Prompt” with admin rights: I get a:

    ! Installing Text::BibTeX failed. See .cpanmbuild.log for details.

    In the other hand, Joseph’ method works on XP, Vista and Seven, except that there is warning during biber’s compilation:

    Could not find or check module ‘IPC::Run’ [THIS MAY BE A PROBLEM!] at C:/strawberry/perl/lib/IPC/ line 124

    After running:

    cpan IPC::Run

    everything is OK.

    Best regards.

  7. Hi

    for me it’s the same problem
    “! Installing Text::BibTeX failed. See .cpanmbuild.log for details.”

    on vista 🙁

    is there another way?

    Best regards

  8. err…. why can’t someone just post the binary of biber for Windows? Like, you know, every other software on the planet does? Why all this “build” nonsense?

  9. It’s not that simple, as biber is written in Perl. Most Perl modules are cross-platform, and biber is no exception. However, the way that Perl achieves this is by installing the sources, and then compiling them on the target platform. For non-Windows users this is not an issue, as Perl is standard on Unix systems (including Mac OS X). However, Windows doesn’t come with a Perl system (or indeed a compiler) out of the box, which is where the trouble starts.

    Some Perl modules can be bundled up with the appropriate bits and pieces so they don’t need to be compiled. For example, tlmgr does this. However, I believe that biber needs a very complex set of other Perl modules, and this precludes bundling it up in a single block.

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