On Linux, install the development packages for FreeType, Cairo, and GLib. For example, on Ubuntu / Debian, you would do:

sudo apt-get install meson pkg-config ragel gtk-doc-tools gcc g++ libfreetype6-dev libglib2.0-dev libcairo2-dev

whereas on Fedora, RHEL, CentOS, and other Red Hat based systems you would do:

sudo dnf install meson pkgconfig gtk-doc gcc gcc-c++ freetype-devel glib2-devel cairo-dev

and on ArchLinux and Manjaro:

sudo pacman -Suy meson pkg-config ragel gcc freetype2 glib2 cairo

then use meson to build the project like meson build && meson test -Cbuild.

On macOS, brew install pkg-config ragel gtk-doc freetype glib cairo meson then use meson like above.

On Windows, meson can build the project like above if a working MSVC's cl.exe (vcvarsall.bat) or gcc/clang is already on your path, and if you use something like meson build --wrap-mode=default it fetches and compiles most of the dependencies also.

Our CI configurations is also a good source of learning how to build HarfBuzz.

There is also amalgam source provided with HarfBuzz which reduces whole process of building HarfBuzz like g++ src/harfbuzz.cc -fno-exceptions but there is not guarantee provided with buildability and reliability of features you get.