How to install Espanso from source on Debian 12 bookworm

Currently available Espanso packages fail to install on Debian 12 because of unmet dependencies. Given that I depend on Espanso to expand text shortcuts and insert special characters, I was stuck on Debian 11. Until now!

The following instructions have also been tested with Debian 11.

After completing the installation, Espanso 2.2.0 for Wayland will be installed on your system and enabled for the current user.

Compiling Espanso from source code

Side-step any dependency problems by compliling Espanso from source and moving the binary into place.

Step 1

Install the required C/C++ compiler and some additional tools.

$ sudo apt-get install --yes build-essential curl git wl-clipboard libxkbcommon-dev libdbus-1-dev libwxgtk3.*-dev libssl-dev

Step 2

Install the required Rust compiler, which is managed by the rustup tool.

$ curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf | sh&&source ~/.bashrc

Press [Enter] to proceed with the installation.

Current installation options:

1) Proceed with instalation (default)
2) Customize installation
3) Cancel installation

Install cargo-make, which is required during the build process.

$ cargo install --force cargo-make

Step 3

Get the source code by cloning the Espanso repository to the local directory ~/.local/src/espanso.

$ git clone --progress ~/.local/src/espanso

Step 4

Compile the Espanso binary in release mode and as a Wayland-only build.

$ cargo make --cwd ~/.local/src/espanso --profile release --env NO_X11=true build-binary

Move the binary to the /usr/local/bin directory.

$ sudo mv ~/.local/src/espanso/target/release/espanso /usr/local/bin/

Step 5

Give Espanso the permissions it requires for operation.

$ sudo setcap "cap_dac_override+p" $(which espanso)

Check to see if the Espanso binary was installed successfuly.

$ espanso --version

Step 6

Integrate Espanso into the system by registering it as a systemd service.

$ espanso service register

Start Espanso.

$ espanso start && espanso status

Step 7

In GNOME, remove the conflicting default shortcut for activating the window menu.

Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > View and Customize Shortcuts > Windows > Activate the window menu > [Backspace]

From now on, use [Alt + Space] to open Espanso’s Search bar.

All Done!

Please keep in mind that Wayland support at this point has some known limitations. Most notably, “there is currently no support for App-specific configurations“.

Big thank you to Federico Terzi for creating such a useful tool for us all to use!

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