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Getting Started with the LLVM System using Microsoft Visual Studio
.. contents::
Welcome to LLVM on Windows! This document only covers LLVM on Windows using
Visual Studio, not mingw or cygwin. In order to get started, you first need to
know some basic information.
There are many different projects that compose LLVM. The first piece is the
LLVM suite. This contains all of the tools, libraries, and header files needed
to use LLVM. It contains an assembler, disassembler, bitcode analyzer and
bitcode optimizer. It also contains basic regression tests that can be used to
test the LLVM tools and the Clang front end.
The second piece is the `Clang <>`_ front end. This
component compiles C, C++, Objective C, and Objective C++ code into LLVM
bitcode. Clang typically uses LLVM libraries to optimize the bitcode and emit
machine code. LLVM fully supports the COFF object file format, which is
compatible with all other existing Windows toolchains.
The last major part of LLVM, the execution Test Suite, does not run on Windows,
and this document does not discuss it.
Additional information about the LLVM directory structure and tool chain
can be found on the main :doc:`GettingStarted` page.
Before you begin to use the LLVM system, review the requirements given
below. This may save you some trouble by knowing ahead of time what hardware
and software you will need.
Any system that can adequately run Visual Studio 2015 is fine. The LLVM
source tree and object files, libraries and executables will consume
approximately 3GB.
You will need Visual Studio 2015 or higher, with the latest Update installed.
You will also need the `CMake <>`_ build system since it
generates the project files you will use to build with.
If you would like to run the LLVM tests you will need `Python
<>`_. Version 2.7 and newer are known to work. You will
need `GnuWin32 <>`_ tools, too.
Do not install the LLVM directory tree into a path containing spaces (e.g.
``C:\Documents and Settings\...``) as the configure step will fail.
Getting Started
Here's the short story for getting up and running quickly with LLVM:
1. Read the documentation.
2. Seriously, read the documentation.
3. Remember that you were warned twice about reading the documentation.
4. Get the Source Code
* With the distributed files:
1. ``cd <where-you-want-llvm-to-live>``
2. ``gunzip --stdout llvm-VERSION.tar.gz | tar -xvf -``
(*or use WinZip*)
3. ``cd llvm``
* With anonymous Subversion access:
*Note:* some regression tests require Unix-style line ending (``\n``). To
pass all regression tests, please add two lines *enable-auto-props = yes*
and *\* = svn:mime-type=application/octet-stream* to
1. ``cd <where-you-want-llvm-to-live>``
2. ``svn co llvm``
3. ``cd llvm``
5. Use `CMake <>`_ to generate up-to-date project files:
* Once CMake is installed then the simplest way is to just start the
CMake GUI, select the directory where you have LLVM extracted to, and
the default options should all be fine. One option you may really
want to change, regardless of anything else, might be the
``CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX`` setting to select a directory to INSTALL to
once compiling is complete, although installation is not mandatory for
using LLVM. Another important option is ``LLVM_TARGETS_TO_BUILD``,
which controls the LLVM target architectures that are included on the
* If CMake complains that it cannot find the compiler, make sure that
you have the Visual Studio C++ Tools installed, not just Visual Studio
itself (trying to create a C++ project in Visual Studio will generally
download the C++ tools if they haven't already been).
* See the :doc:`LLVM CMake guide <CMake>` for detailed information about
how to configure the LLVM build.
* CMake generates project files for all build types. To select a specific
build type, use the Configuration manager from the VS IDE or the
``/property:Configuration`` command line option when using MSBuild.
* By default, the Visual Studio project files generated by CMake use the
32-bit toolset. If you are developing on a 64-bit version of Windows and
want to use the 64-bit toolset, pass the ``-Thost=x64`` flag when
generating the Visual Studio solution. This requires CMake 3.8.0 or later.
6. Start Visual Studio
* In the directory you created the project files will have an ``llvm.sln``
file, just double-click on that to open Visual Studio.
7. Build the LLVM Suite:
* The projects may still be built individually, but to build them all do
not just select all of them in batch build (as some are meant as
configuration projects), but rather select and build just the
``ALL_BUILD`` project to build everything, or the ``INSTALL`` project,
which first builds the ``ALL_BUILD`` project, then installs the LLVM
headers, libs, and other useful things to the directory set by the
``CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX`` setting when you first configured CMake.
* The Fibonacci project is a sample program that uses the JIT. Modify the
project's debugging properties to provide a numeric command line argument
or run it from the command line. The program will print the
corresponding fibonacci value.
8. Test LLVM in Visual Studio:
* If ``%PATH%`` does not contain GnuWin32, you may specify
``LLVM_LIT_TOOLS_DIR`` on CMake for the path to GnuWin32.
* You can run LLVM tests by merely building the project "check". The test
results will be shown in the VS output window.
9. Test LLVM on the command line:
* The LLVM tests can be run by changing directory to the llvm source
directory and running:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..\llvm> python ..\build\bin\llvm-lit --param build_config=Win32 --param build_mode=Debug --param llvm_site_config=../build/test/ test
This example assumes that Python is in your PATH variable, you
have built a Win32 Debug version of llvm with a standard out of
line build. You should not see any unexpected failures, but will
see many unsupported tests and expected failures.
A specific test or test directory can be run with:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..\llvm> python ..\build\bin\llvm-lit --param build_config=Win32 --param build_mode=Debug --param llvm_site_config=../build/test/ test/path/to/test
An Example Using the LLVM Tool Chain
1. First, create a simple C file, name it '``hello.c``':
.. code-block:: c
#include <stdio.h>
int main() {
printf("hello world\n");
return 0;
2. Next, compile the C file into an LLVM bitcode file:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..> clang -c hello.c -emit-llvm -o hello.bc
This will create the result file ``hello.bc`` which is the LLVM bitcode
that corresponds the compiled program and the library facilities that
it required. You can execute this file directly using ``lli`` tool,
compile it to native assembly with the ``llc``, optimize or analyze it
further with the ``opt`` tool, etc.
Alternatively you can directly output an executable with clang with:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..> clang hello.c -o hello.exe
The ``-o hello.exe`` is required because clang currently outputs ``a.out``
when neither ``-o`` nor ``-c`` are given.
3. Run the program using the just-in-time compiler:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..> lli hello.bc
4. Use the ``llvm-dis`` utility to take a look at the LLVM assembly code:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..> llvm-dis < hello.bc | more
5. Compile the program to object code using the LLC code generator:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..> llc -filetype=obj hello.bc
6. Link to binary using Microsoft link:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..> link hello.obj -defaultlib:libcmt
7. Execute the native code program:
.. code-block:: bat
C:\..> hello.exe
Common Problems
If you are having problems building or using LLVM, or if you have any other
general questions about LLVM, please consult the :doc:`Frequently Asked Questions
<FAQ>` page.
This document is just an **introduction** to how to use LLVM to do some simple
things... there are many more interesting and complicated things that you can
do that aren't documented here (but we'll gladly accept a patch if you want to
write something up!). For more information about LLVM, check out:
* `LLVM homepage <>`_
* `LLVM doxygen tree <>`_