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OpenKinect / libfreenect


Drivers and libraries for the Xbox Kinect device on Windows, Linux, and OS X



libfreenect is a userspace driver for the Microsoft Kinect. It runs on Linux, OSX, and Windows and supports

  • RGB and Depth Images
  • Motors
  • Accelerometer
  • LED
  • Audio

Build Instructions

To build libfreenect, you'll need

  • libusb >= 1.0.18
  • CMake >= 2.6
  • python == 2.* (only if BUILD_PYTHON=ON or BUILD_REDIST_PACKAGE=OFF)

For the examples, you'll need

  • OpenGL (included with OSX)
  • glut (included with OSX)
  • pthreads-win32 (Windows)

For audio support, you must have firmware to upload to the Kinect. If you specify a non-redistributable package, firmware will be downloaded automatically:


Note that the downloaded firmware may not be legal to redistribute!

Fetch & Build

git clone
cd libfreenect
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -L ..

# if you don't have `make` or don't want color output
# cmake --build .

You can specify a build with debug symbols:

cmake -L .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debug
# or with optimizations
# cmake -L .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo

You can build .deb, .rpm, and/or .tgz packages with cpack:



If you don't have a package manager, install Homebrew. For a manual build, see the wiki.


brew install libfreenect
# or get the very latest:
# brew install --HEAD libfreenect


sudo port install git-core cmake libusb libtool

Continue with Fetch & Build.


Remember to install the udev rules. For a manual build, see the wiki.


The version packaged in Ubuntu may be very old. To install newer packaged builds, see the wiki. Continue with this section for a manual build.

sudo apt-get install git cmake build-essential libusb-1.0-0-dev

# only if you are building the examples:
sudo apt-get install freeglut3-dev libxmu-dev libxi-dev

Continue with Fetch & Build.

There is also a debian branch for packaging purposes.

Gentoo Linux

There is a live ebuild for your convenience in platform/linux/portage/dev-libs/libfreenect/.

Arch Linux

There is a libfreenect PKGBUILD in the AUR. Alternately, the libfreenect-git PKGBUILD builds the very latest.


As of February 2015, libusb still does not support isochronous transfers on Windows. This support may be patched in by performing these steps or their GUI equivalent.

git clone
cd libusb
git remote add jblake
git fetch jblake
git cherry-pick c5b0af4 1c74211
MSBuild.exe msvc/libusb_2013.sln

Use Zadig to install the libusbK driver for each device you wish to use. Follow Fetch & Build or use Github and CMake GUI tools. Remember to supply paths to CMake so it can find dependencies. For example:

cmake .. -DLIBUSB_1_INCLUDE_DIR="C:\path\to\patched\libusb\include" -DLIBUSB_1_LIBRARY="C:\path\to\patched\libusb\libusb.lib"


Interfaces to various languages are provided in wrappers/. Wrappers are not guaranteed to be API stable or up to date.

  • C (using a synchronous API)
  • C++
  • C#
  • python
  • ruby
  • actionscript
  • Java (JNA)


cd wrappers/python
# if you have cython and want to rebuild the binding
# cython freenect.pyx
python2 build_ext --inplace

For example, start with

Code Contributions

In order of importance:

  • Make sure to sign commits: git commit -s
  • Use a feature branch in your own fork and target master with pull requests
  • Tab indentation, no trailing whitespace


Ongoing Development and Maintenance by the OpenKinect Community

  • Original Code and Engineering: Hector Martin (marcan)
  • Community Lead: Josh Blake (JoshB)
  • Integration: Kyle Machulis (qDot)


The libfreenect project is covered under a dual Apache v2/GPL v2 license. The licensing criteria are listed below, as well as at the top of each source file in the repo.

This file is part of the OpenKinect Project.

Copyright (c) 2010 individual OpenKinect contributors. See the CONTRIB
file for details.

This code is licensed to you under the terms of the Apache License,
version 2.0, or, at your option, the terms of the GNU General Public
License, version 2.0. See the APACHE20 and GPL2 files for the text of
the licenses, or the following URLs:

If you redistribute this file in source form, modified or unmodified,
you may:

- Leave this header intact and distribute it under the same terms,
  accompanying it with the APACHE20 and GPL2 files, or
- Delete the Apache 2.0 clause and accompany it with the GPL2 file, or
- Delete the GPL v2 clause and accompany it with the APACHE20 file

In all cases you must keep the copyright notice intact and include a
copy of the CONTRIB file.

Binary distributions must follow the binary distribution requirements
of either License.

More Information

Information about the OpenKinect project can be found at

For questions, support, and discussion, check out the google groups mailing list at

Or the IRC channel at #openkinect on Freenode

We are also on twitter at