To use Nelua you need a system with the following:

  • Git (for cloning nelua)
  • Lua (for running nelua compiler, can be lua 5.1, lua 5.3 or luajit)
  • LuaRocks (lua package manager for installing nelua)
  • A C compiler (for compiling C generated code such as GCC or Clang)

Installing on Linux

Use your system package manager to install Lua, LuaRocks and GCC first. For example in Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install lua5.1 git luarocks gcc

Then install nelua from master with the following command:

luarocks install

After installing Nelua compiler binary should be available in the binary path then run nelua -h in terminal check if its working. If doesn’t work your environment is probably missing the luarocks environment variables, to fix execute the output from luarocks path in your terminal.

Installing on Windows

Getting an environment with Git, Lua, LuaRocks and a C compiler working on Windows itself can be tricky, there are multiple ways. Here we show two ways with lesser steps. The first using MSYS2 with Mingw-w64 and the second using WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). I recommend the second one for users familiar with Linux systems or if the first doesn’t work out.

Installing on Windows (with MSYS2)

1.Install MSYS2

Download and install MSYS2. Choose the x86_64 installer, because the i686 is known to not work well with MSYS’s luarocks. After installing open its terminal and update:

pacman -Syu --noconfirm

After the update finishes, you may be asked to close the terminal and reopen to update using the same command a second time.

2. Install required tools in MSYS2

After updating, install all the required build tools:

pacman -S --noconfirm unzip git
pacman -S --noconfirm mingw-w64-x86_64-toolchain mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc
pacman -S --noconfirm mingw-w64-x86_64-lua51-luarocks

3. Install Nelua

luarocks install

This command may take a while. Nelua now should be working, check it running nelua.bat -h, you can clone and test examples from the official repository:

nelua.bat hellowolrd.nelua

Note that luarocks installs Nelua as nelua.bat.

To run snakesdl demo:

pacman -S --noconfirm mingw-w64-x86_64-SDL2
nelua.bat snakesdl.nelua

Installing on Windows (with WSL)

This alternative way uses ArchLinux subsystem on Windows through WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) with all Nelua requirements in a few commands, inside the system you will be able to compile Windows binaries, Linux binaries and even WebAssembly binaries too.

Before going through these steps make sure that you are using an updated Windows 10.

1. Install Scoop

Download and install Scoop, a command line installer for windows, we use it to install ArchWSL. Open “Windows PowerShell” then execute:

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -scope CurrentUser
iwr -useb | iex

2. Install ArchWSL

Get ArchWSL from scoop:

scoop install git
scoop bucket add extras
scoop install archwsl

Open another “Windows PowerShell” with Administrative privileges, then enable WSL feature:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

Restart the system if requested, then open the newly shortcut ArchLinux in startup menu, a new terminal will be shown, continue updating the subsystem:

pacman -Syy
pacman -S archlinux-keyring --noconfirm
pacman -Syu --noconfirm

Install required dependencies for compiling packages:

pacman -S --needed --noconfirm git autoconf automake binutils bison flex gcc libtool m4 make cmake patch pkgconf texinfo

3. Install Lua, LuaRocks and Nelua

Install Lua and LuaRocks:

pacman -S --noconfirm lua luarocks

Install Nelua:

luarocks install

Nelua now should be working, check it running nelua -h, you can clone and test examples from the official repository:

nelua helloword.nelua

Note this is compiling Linux binaries using GCC, thus this way you are only be able to run it inside WSL therefore limiting to command line applications. To run graphical applications you need to compile actual Windows binaries, proceed bellow.

4. Install Mingw-w64

Continue here only if you want to compile Windows binaries in the ArchWSL.

Create a password-less privileged user for compiling packages and login with it:

useradd builduser -m
passwd -d builduser
echo 'builduser ALL=(ALL) ALL' >> /etc/sudoers
su builduser
cd ~

Install YAY package manager:

git clone
cd yay-bin
makepkg -si --noconfirm

Install mingw-w64 compiler and SDL2 to run the graphical demo:

yay -S --noconfirm mingw-w64-gcc-bin mingw-w64-headers-bin mingw-w64-crt-bin mingw-w64-binutils-bin mingw-w64-winpthreads-bin
yay -S --noconfirm mingw-w64-sdl2

You can now logout the builduser:


To run snakesdl demo:

cp /usr/x86_64-w64-mingw32/bin/SDL2.dll .
nelua --cc=x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc snakesdl.nelua

Developing setup on ArchWSL

You can use your favorite text editor to edit Nelua projects and save them in your user home in Windows, the files will be located somewhere in /mnt/c/Users/<user>/ on ArchWSL. Use the WSL terminal to change to that path and run the nelua compiler.

Note for users wanting to use Nelua with MSVC

At the moment the language C code generator uses some C extensions that are supported by GCC and Clang but not by MSVC C compiler, for those really wanting to use MSVC they should install and use Clang support in Visual Studio.

Getting Lua and LuaRocks working in MSVC is tricky, the user should try to follow LuaRocks website. I don’t recommend using this method because is quite difficult.