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AXEL - Lightweight CLI download accelerator


Axel tries to accelerate the download process by using multiple connections per file, and can also balance the load between different servers.

Axel tries to be as light as possible, so it might be useful on byte-critical systems.

Axel supports HTTP, HTTPS, FTP and FTPS protocols.

Thanks to the original developer of Axel, Wilmer van der Gaast, and everyone else who has contributed to it over the years.

How to help

If you can code and are interested in improving Axel, please read the file; if you’re looking for ideas check our open tickets.

Additionally, there is a google group to discuss and to coordinate development. You can also find other developers in the #axel channel on Freenode.

The sustainability of the project mainly depends on developers dedicating time, so if you want to contribute but can’t code, there’s also the option to fund paid development time through:

Installing from binaries

Your operating system may contain a precompiled version of Axel, and if so you should probably use it. If the package is outdated please get in touch with the package maintainer or open a support ticket with your distro.

Building from source

WARNING: Building from the source code repository is recommended only when doing development, otherwise only use release tarballs.

Axel uses GNU autotools for it’s buildsystem; instructions are provided in the INSTALL file. The basic actions for most users are:

./configure && make && make install

To build without SSL/TLS support, pass to configure the --without-ssl flag.

If you’re working from the source code repository instead of a release tarball, you need to generate the buildsystem first with:

autoreconf -i

When working from a git repository the build system will detect that and will add -Werror to the CFLAGS if supported; so if you’re not doing development you should probably consider passing --disable-Werror to configure in order to prevent build failures due to mere warnings.


  • gettext (or gettext-tiny)
  • pkg-config


  • libssl (OpenSSL, LibreSSL or compatible) -- for SSL/TLS support.

Extra dependencies for building from snapshots

  • autoconf-archive
  • autoconf
  • automake
  • autopoint
  • txt2man

Packages on Debian-based systems

  • build-essential
  • autoconf
  • autoconf-archive
  • automake
  • autopoint
  • gettext
  • libssl-dev
  • pkg-config
  • txt2man

Packages on Mac OS X (Homebrew)

  • autoconf-archive
  • automake
  • gettext
  • openssl

Building on Mac OS X (Homebrew)

You’ll need to provide some extra options to autotools so it can find gettext and openssl.


[ -x configure ] || autoreconf -fiv -I$GETTEXT/share/aclocal/

CFLAGS="-I$GETTEXT/include -I$OPENSSL/include" \
LDFLAGS=-L$GETTEXT/lib ./configure

You can just run make as usual after these steps.


Axel is licensed under GPL-2+ with the OpenSSL exception.