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Building LLVM with CMake
.. contents::
`CMake <>`_ is a cross-platform build-generator tool. CMake
does not build the project, it generates the files needed by your build tool
(GNU make, Visual Studio, etc.) for building LLVM.
If **you are a new contributor**, please start with the :doc:`GettingStarted`
page. This page is geared for existing contributors moving from the
legacy configure/make system.
If you are really anxious about getting a functional LLVM build, go to the
`Quick start`_ section. If you are a CMake novice, start with `Basic CMake usage`_
and then go back to the `Quick start`_ section once you know what you are doing. The
`Options and variables`_ section is a reference for customizing your build. If
you already have experience with CMake, this is the recommended starting point.
This page is geared towards users of the LLVM CMake build. If you're looking for
information about modifying the LLVM CMake build system you may want to see the
:doc:`CMakePrimer` page. It has a basic overview of the CMake language.
.. _Quick start:
Quick start
We use here the command-line, non-interactive CMake interface.
#. `Download <>`_ and install
CMake. Version 3.4.3 is the minimum required.
#. Open a shell. Your development tools must be reachable from this shell
through the PATH environment variable.
#. Create a build directory. Building LLVM in the source
directory is not supported. cd to this directory:
.. code-block:: console
$ mkdir mybuilddir
$ cd mybuilddir
#. Execute this command in the shell replacing `path/to/llvm/source/root` with
the path to the root of your LLVM source tree:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake path/to/llvm/source/root
CMake will detect your development environment, perform a series of tests, and
generate the files required for building LLVM. CMake will use default values
for all build parameters. See the `Options and variables`_ section for
a list of build parameters that you can modify.
This can fail if CMake can't detect your toolset, or if it thinks that the
environment is not sane enough. In this case, make sure that the toolset that
you intend to use is the only one reachable from the shell, and that the shell
itself is the correct one for your development environment. CMake will refuse
to build MinGW makefiles if you have a POSIX shell reachable through the PATH
environment variable, for instance. You can force CMake to use a given build
tool; for instructions, see the `Usage`_ section, below.
#. After CMake has finished running, proceed to use IDE project files, or start
the build from the build directory:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake --build .
The ``--build`` option tells ``cmake`` to invoke the underlying build
tool (``make``, ``ninja``, ``xcodebuild``, ``msbuild``, etc.)
The underlying build tool can be invoked directly, of course, but
the ``--build`` option is portable.
#. After LLVM has finished building, install it from the build directory:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake --build . --target install
The ``--target`` option with ``install`` parameter in addition to
the ``--build`` option tells ``cmake`` to build the ``install`` target.
It is possible to set a different install prefix at installation time
by invoking the ``cmake_install.cmake`` script generated in the
build directory:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/tmp/llvm -P cmake_install.cmake
.. _Basic CMake usage:
.. _Usage:
Basic CMake usage
This section explains basic aspects of CMake
which you may need in your day-to-day usage.
CMake comes with extensive documentation, in the form of html files, and as
online help accessible via the ``cmake`` executable itself. Execute ``cmake
--help`` for further help options.
CMake allows you to specify a build tool (e.g., GNU make, Visual Studio,
or Xcode). If not specified on the command line, CMake tries to guess which
build tool to use, based on your environment. Once it has identified your
build tool, CMake uses the corresponding *Generator* to create files for your
build tool (e.g., Makefiles or Visual Studio or Xcode project files). You can
explicitly specify the generator with the command line option ``-G "Name of the
generator"``. To see a list of the available generators on your system, execute
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake --help
This will list the generator names at the end of the help text.
Generators' names are case-sensitive, and may contain spaces. For this reason,
you should enter them exactly as they are listed in the ``cmake --help``
output, in quotes. For example, to generate project files specifically for
Visual Studio 12, you can execute:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake -G "Visual Studio 12" path/to/llvm/source/root
For a given development platform there can be more than one adequate
generator. If you use Visual Studio, "NMake Makefiles" is a generator you can use
for building with NMake. By default, CMake chooses the most specific generator
supported by your development environment. If you want an alternative generator,
you must tell this to CMake with the ``-G`` option.
.. todo::
Explain variables and cache. Move explanation here from #options section.
.. _Options and variables:
Options and variables
Variables customize how the build will be generated. Options are boolean
variables, with possible values ON/OFF. Options and variables are defined on the
CMake command line like this:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake -DVARIABLE=value path/to/llvm/source
You can set a variable after the initial CMake invocation to change its
value. You can also undefine a variable:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake -UVARIABLE path/to/llvm/source
Variables are stored in the CMake cache. This is a file named ``CMakeCache.txt``
stored at the root of your build directory that is generated by ``cmake``.
Editing it yourself is not recommended.
Variables are listed in the CMake cache and later in this document with
the variable name and type separated by a colon. You can also specify the
variable and type on the CMake command line:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake -DVARIABLE:TYPE=value path/to/llvm/source
Frequently-used CMake variables
Here are some of the CMake variables that are used often, along with a
brief explanation and LLVM-specific notes. For full documentation, consult the
CMake manual, or execute ``cmake --help-variable VARIABLE_NAME``.
Sets the build type for ``make``-based generators. Possible values are
Release, Debug, RelWithDebInfo and MinSizeRel. If you are using an IDE such as
Visual Studio, you should use the IDE settings to set the build type.
Be aware that Release and RelWithDebInfo use different optimization levels on
most platforms.
Path where LLVM will be installed if "make install" is invoked or the
"install" target is built.
Extra suffix to append to the directory where libraries are to be
installed. On a 64-bit architecture, one could use ``-DLLVM_LIBDIR_SUFFIX=64``
to install libraries to ``/usr/lib64``.
Extra flags to use when compiling C source files.
Extra flags to use when compiling C++ source files.
.. _LLVM-specific variables:
LLVM-specific variables
Semicolon-separated list of targets to build, or *all* for building all
targets. Case-sensitive. Defaults to *all*. Example:
Build LLVM tools. Defaults to ON. Targets for building each tool are generated
in any case. You can build a tool separately by invoking its target. For
example, you can build *llvm-as* with a Makefile-based system by executing *make
llvm-as* at the root of your build directory.
Generate build targets for the LLVM tools. Defaults to ON. You can use this
option to disable the generation of build targets for the LLVM tools.
Install symlinks from the binutils tool names to the corresponding LLVM tools.
For example, ar will be symlinked to llvm-ar.
Build LLVM examples. Defaults to OFF. Targets for building each example are
generated in any case. See documentation for *LLVM_BUILD_TOOLS* above for more
Generate build targets for the LLVM examples. Defaults to ON. You can use this
option to disable the generation of build targets for the LLVM examples.
Build LLVM unit tests. Defaults to OFF. Targets for building each unit test
are generated in any case. You can build a specific unit test using the
targets defined under *unittests*, such as ADTTests, IRTests, SupportTests,
etc. (Search for ``add_llvm_unittest`` in the subdirectories of *unittests*
for a complete list of unit tests.) It is possible to build all unit tests
with the target *UnitTests*.
Generate build targets for the LLVM unit tests. Defaults to ON. You can use
this option to disable the generation of build targets for the LLVM unit
Embed version control revision info (svn revision number or Git revision id).
The version info is provided by the ``LLVM_REVISION`` macro in
``llvm/include/llvm/Support/VCSRevision.h``. Developers using git who don't
need revision info can disable this option to avoid re-linking most binaries
after a branch switch. Defaults to ON.
Build with threads support, if available. Defaults to ON.
Build in C++1y mode, if available. Defaults to OFF.
Enables code assertions. Defaults to ON if and only if ``CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE``
is *Debug*.
Build LLVM with exception-handling support. This is necessary if you wish to
link against LLVM libraries and make use of C++ exceptions in your own code
that need to propagate through LLVM code. Defaults to OFF.
Enable additional time/memory expensive checking. Defaults to OFF.
Add the ``-fPIC`` flag to the compiler command-line, if the compiler supports
this flag. Some systems, like Windows, do not need this flag. Defaults to ON.
Build LLVM with run-time type information. Defaults to OFF.
Enable all compiler warnings. Defaults to ON.
Enable pedantic mode. This disables compiler-specific extensions, if
possible. Defaults to ON.
Stop and fail the build, if a compiler warning is triggered. Defaults to OFF.
Used to decide if LLVM should be built with ABI breaking checks or
not. Allowed values are `WITH_ASSERTS` (default), `FORCE_ON` and
`FORCE_OFF`. `WITH_ASSERTS` turns on ABI breaking checks in an
assertion enabled build. `FORCE_ON` (`FORCE_OFF`) turns them on
(off) irrespective of whether normal (`NDEBUG`-based) assertions are
enabled or not. A version of LLVM built with ABI breaking checks
is not ABI compatible with a version built without it.
Build 32-bit executables and libraries on 64-bit systems. This option is
available only on some 64-bit Unix systems. Defaults to OFF.
LLVM target to use for native code generation. This is required for JIT
generation. It defaults to "host", meaning that it shall pick the architecture
of the machine where LLVM is being built. If you are cross-compiling, set it
to the target architecture name.
Full path to a native TableGen executable (usually named ``llvm-tblgen``). This is
intended for cross-compiling: if the user sets this variable, no native
TableGen will be created.
Arguments given to lit. ``make check`` and ``make clang-test`` are affected.
By default, ``'-sv --no-progress-bar'`` on Visual C++ and Xcode, ``'-sv'`` on
The path to GnuWin32 tools for tests. Valid on Windows host. Defaults to
the empty string, in which case lit will look for tools needed for tests
(e.g. ``grep``, ``sort``, etc.) in your %PATH%. If GnuWin32 is not in your
%PATH%, then you can set this variable to the GnuWin32 directory so that
lit can find tools needed for tests in that directory.
Indicates whether the LLVM Interpreter will be linked with the Foreign Function
Interface library (libffi) in order to enable calling external functions.
If the library or its headers are installed in a custom
location, you can also set the variables FFI_INCLUDE_DIR and
FFI_LIBRARY_DIR to the directories where ffi.h and can be found,
respectively. Defaults to OFF.
These variables specify the path to the source directory for the external
LLVM projects Clang, lld, and Polly, respectively, relative to the top-level
source directory. If the in-tree subdirectory for an external project
exists (e.g., llvm/tools/clang for Clang), then the corresponding variable
will not be used. If the variable for an external project does not point
to a valid path, then that project will not be built.
Semicolon-separated list of projects to build, or *all* for building all
(clang, libcxx, libcxxabi, lldb, compiler-rt, lld, polly) projects.
This flag assumes that projects are checked out side-by-side and not nested,
i.e. clang needs to be in parallel of llvm instead of nested in `llvm/tools`.
This feature allows to have one build for only LLVM and another for clang+llvm
using the same source checkout.
Semicolon-separated list of additional external projects to build as part of
llvm. For each project LLVM_EXTERNAL_<NAME>_SOURCE_DIR have to be specified
with the path for the source code of the project. Example:
Enable building OProfile JIT support. Defaults to OFF.
Path to a profdata file to pass into clang's -fprofile-instr-use flag. This
can only be specified if you're building with clang.
Enable building support for Intel JIT Events API. Defaults to OFF.
Enable building with libpfm to support hardware counter measurements in LLVM
Defaults to ON.
Enable building support for Perf (linux profiling tool) JIT support. Defaults to OFF.
Enable building with zlib to support compression/uncompression in LLVM tools.
Defaults to ON.
Enable building with MSVC DIA SDK for PDB debugging support. Available
only with MSVC. Defaults to ON.
Define the sanitizer used to build LLVM binaries and tests. Possible values
are ``Address``, ``Memory``, ``MemoryWithOrigins``, ``Undefined``, ``Thread``,
and ``Address;Undefined``. Defaults to empty string.
Add ``-flto`` or ``-flto=`` flags to the compile and link command
lines, enabling link-time optimization. Possible values are ``Off``,
``On``, ``Thin`` and ``Full``. Defaults to OFF.
Add ``-fuse-ld={name}`` to the link invocation. The possible value depend on
your compiler, for clang the value can be an absolute path to your custom
linker, otherwise clang will prefix the name with ``ld.`` and apply its usual
search. For example to link LLVM with the Gold linker, cmake can be invoked
with ``-DLLVM_USE_LINKER=gold``.
This option is equivalent to `-DLLVM_USE_LINKER=lld`, except during a 2-stage
build where a dependency is added from the first stage to the second ensuring
that lld is built before stage2 begins.
Define the maximum number of concurrent compilation jobs.
Define the maximum number of concurrent link jobs.
Adds all *enabled* documentation targets (i.e. Doxgyen and Sphinx targets) as
dependencies of the default build targets. This results in all of the (enabled)
documentation targets being as part of a normal build. If the ``install``
target is run then this also enables all built documentation targets to be
installed. Defaults to OFF. To enable a particular documentation target, see
Enables the generation of browsable HTML documentation using doxygen.
Defaults to OFF.
Enables the generation of a Qt Compressed Help file. Defaults to OFF.
This affects the make target ``doxygen-llvm``. When enabled, apart from
the normal HTML output generated by doxygen, this will produce a QCH file
named ``org.llvm.qch``. You can then load this file into Qt Creator.
This option is only useful in combination with ``-DLLVM_ENABLE_DOXYGEN=ON``;
otherwise this has no effect.
The filename of the Qt Compressed Help file that will be generated when
``-DLLVM_ENABLE_DOXYGEN_QT_HELP=ON`` are given. Defaults to
This option is only useful in combination with
otherwise it has no effect.
Namespace under which the intermediate Qt Help Project file lives. See `Qt
Help Project`_
for more information. Defaults to "org.llvm". This option is only useful in
combination with ``-DLLVM_ENABLE_DOXYGEN_QT_HELP=ON``; otherwise
it has no effect.
See `Qt Help Project`_ for
more information. Defaults to the CMake variable ``${PACKAGE_STRING}`` which
is a combination of the package name and version string. This filter can then
be used in Qt Creator to select only documentation from LLVM when browsing
through all the help files that you might have loaded. This option is only
useful in combination with ``-DLLVM_ENABLE_DOXYGEN_QT_HELP=ON``;
otherwise it has no effect.
.. _Qt Help Project:
The path to the ``qhelpgenerator`` executable. Defaults to whatever CMake's
``find_program()`` can find. This option is only useful in combination with
``-DLLVM_ENABLE_DOXYGEN_QT_HELP=ON``; otherwise it has no
Uses .svg files instead of .png files for graphs in the Doxygen output.
Defaults to OFF.
The path to install Doxygen-generated HTML documentation to. This path can
either be absolute or relative to the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX. Defaults to
If specified, CMake will search for the ``sphinx-build`` executable and will make
the ``SPHINX_OUTPUT_HTML`` and ``SPHINX_OUTPUT_MAN`` CMake options available.
Defaults to OFF.
The path to the ``sphinx-build`` executable detected by CMake.
For installation instructions, see
If enabled (and ``LLVM_ENABLE_SPHINX`` is enabled) then the targets for
building the documentation as html are added (but not built by default unless
``LLVM_BUILD_DOCS`` is enabled). There is a target for each project in the
source tree that uses sphinx (e.g. ``docs-llvm-html``, ``docs-clang-html``
and ``docs-lld-html``). Defaults to ON.
If enabled (and ``LLVM_ENABLE_SPHINX`` is enabled) the targets for building
the man pages are added (but not built by default unless ``LLVM_BUILD_DOCS``
is enabled). Currently the only target added is ``docs-llvm-man``. Defaults
to ON.
If enabled then sphinx documentation warnings will be treated as
errors. Defaults to ON.
The path to install Sphinx-generated HTML documentation to. This path can
either be absolute or relative to the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX. Defaults to
The path to install OCamldoc-generated HTML documentation to. This path can
either be absolute or relative to the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX. Defaults to
OS X Only: If enabled CMake will generate a target named
'install-xcode-toolchain'. This target will create a directory at
$CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX/Toolchains containing an xctoolchain directory which can
be used to override the default system tools.
If enabled, the target for building the libLLVM shared library is added.
This library contains all of LLVM's components in a single shared library.
Defaults to OFF. This cannot be used in conjunction with BUILD_SHARED_LIBS.
Tools will only be linked to the libLLVM shared library if LLVM_LINK_LLVM_DYLIB
is also ON.
The components in the library can be customised by setting LLVM_DYLIB_COMPONENTS
to a list of the desired components.
If enabled, tools will be linked with the libLLVM shared library. Defaults
to ON.
Flag indicating if each LLVM component (e.g. Support) is built as a shared
library (ON) or as a static library (OFF). Its default value is OFF. On
Windows, shared libraries may be used when building with MinGW, including
mingw-w64, but not when building with the Microsoft toolchain.
.. note:: BUILD_SHARED_LIBS is only recommended for use by LLVM developers.
If you want to build LLVM as a shared library, you should use the
If enabled and building a debug or asserts build the CMake build system will
generate a Release build tree to build a fully optimized tablegen for use
during the build. Enabling this option can significantly speed up build times
especially when building LLVM in Debug configurations.
If enabled, all supported unordered llvm containers would be iterated in
reverse order. This is useful for uncovering non-determinism caused by
iteration of unordered containers.
If enabled, `source-based code coverage
<>`_ instrumentation
is enabled while building llvm.
If enabled and the ``ccache`` program is available, then LLVM will be
built using ``ccache`` to speed up rebuilds of LLVM and its components.
Defaults to OFF. The size and location of the cache maintained
by ``ccache`` can be adjusted via the LLVM_CCACHE_MAXSIZE and LLVM_CCACHE_DIR
options, which are passed to the CCACHE_MAXSIZE and CCACHE_DIR environment
variables, respectively.
CMake Caches
Recently LLVM and Clang have been adding some more complicated build system
features. Utilizing these new features often involves a complicated chain of
CMake variables passed on the command line. Clang provides a collection of CMake
cache scripts to make these features more approachable.
CMake cache files are utilized using CMake's -C flag:
.. code-block:: console
$ cmake -C <path to cache file> <path to sources>
CMake cache scripts are processed in an isolated scope, only cached variables
remain set when the main configuration runs. CMake cached variables do not reset
variables that are already set unless the FORCE option is specified.
A few notes about CMake Caches:
- Order of command line arguments is important
- -D arguments specified before -C are set before the cache is processed and
can be read inside the cache file
- -D arguments specified after -C are set after the cache is processed and
are unset inside the cache file
- All -D arguments will override cache file settings
- CMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE is evaluated after both the cache file and the command
line arguments
- It is recommended that all -D options should be specified *before* -C
For more information about some of the advanced build configurations supported
via Cache files see :doc:`AdvancedBuilds`.
Executing the test suite
Testing is performed when the *check-all* target is built. For instance, if you are
using Makefiles, execute this command in the root of your build directory:
.. code-block:: console
$ make check-all
On Visual Studio, you may run tests by building the project "check-all".
For more information about testing, see the :doc:`TestingGuide`.
Cross compiling
See `this wiki page <>`_ for
generic instructions on how to cross-compile with CMake. It goes into detailed
explanations and may seem daunting, but it is not. On the wiki page there are
several examples including toolchain files. Go directly to `this section
for a quick solution.
Also see the `LLVM-specific variables`_ section for variables used when
Embedding LLVM in your project
From LLVM 3.5 onwards both the CMake and autoconf/Makefile build systems export
LLVM libraries as importable CMake targets. This means that clients of LLVM can
now reliably use CMake to develop their own LLVM-based projects against an
installed version of LLVM regardless of how it was built.
Here is a simple example of a CMakeLists.txt file that imports the LLVM libraries
and uses them to build a simple application ``simple-tool``.
.. code-block:: cmake
cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.4.3)
message(STATUS "Using LLVMConfig.cmake in: ${LLVM_DIR}")
# Set your project compile flags.
# E.g. if using the C++ header files
# you will need to enable C++11 support
# for your compiler.
# Now build our tools
add_executable(simple-tool tool.cpp)
# Find the libraries that correspond to the LLVM components
# that we wish to use
llvm_map_components_to_libnames(llvm_libs support core irreader)
# Link against LLVM libraries
target_link_libraries(simple-tool ${llvm_libs})
The ``find_package(...)`` directive when used in CONFIG mode (as in the above
example) will look for the ``LLVMConfig.cmake`` file in various locations (see
cmake manual for details). It creates a ``LLVM_DIR`` cache entry to save the
directory where ``LLVMConfig.cmake`` is found or allows the user to specify the
directory (e.g. by passing ``-DLLVM_DIR=/usr/lib/cmake/llvm`` to
the ``cmake`` command or by setting it directly in ``ccmake`` or ``cmake-gui``).
This file is available in two different locations.
* ``<INSTALL_PREFIX>/lib/cmake/llvm/LLVMConfig.cmake`` where
``<INSTALL_PREFIX>`` is the install prefix of an installed version of LLVM.
On Linux typically this is ``/usr/lib/cmake/llvm/LLVMConfig.cmake``.
* ``<LLVM_BUILD_ROOT>/lib/cmake/llvm/LLVMConfig.cmake`` where
``<LLVM_BUILD_ROOT>`` is the root of the LLVM build tree. **Note: this is only
available when building LLVM with CMake.**
If LLVM is installed in your operating system's normal installation prefix (e.g.
on Linux this is usually ``/usr/``) ``find_package(LLVM ...)`` will
automatically find LLVM if it is installed correctly. If LLVM is not installed
or you wish to build directly against the LLVM build tree you can use
``LLVM_DIR`` as previously mentioned.
The ``LLVMConfig.cmake`` file sets various useful variables. Notable variables
The path to the LLVM CMake directory (i.e. the directory containing
A list of preprocessor defines that should be used when building against LLVM.
This is set to ON if LLVM was built with assertions, otherwise OFF.
This is set to ON if LLVM was built with exception handling (EH) enabled,
otherwise OFF.
This is set to ON if LLVM was built with run time type information (RTTI),
otherwise OFF.
A list of include paths to directories containing LLVM header files.
The LLVM version. This string can be used with CMake conditionals, e.g., ``if
The path to the directory containing the LLVM tools (e.g. ``llvm-as``).
Notice that in the above example we link ``simple-tool`` against several LLVM
libraries. The list of libraries is determined by using the
``llvm_map_components_to_libnames()`` CMake function. For a list of available
components look at the output of running ``llvm-config --components``.
Note that for LLVM < 3.5 ``llvm_map_components_to_libraries()`` was
used instead of ``llvm_map_components_to_libnames()``. This is now deprecated
and will be removed in a future version of LLVM.
.. _cmake-out-of-source-pass:
Developing LLVM passes out of source
It is possible to develop LLVM passes out of LLVM's source tree (i.e. against an
installed or built LLVM). An example of a project layout is provided below.
.. code-block:: none
<project dir>/
<pass name>/
Contents of ``<project dir>/CMakeLists.txt``:
.. code-block:: cmake
add_subdirectory(<pass name>)
Contents of ``<project dir>/<pass name>/CMakeLists.txt``:
.. code-block:: cmake
add_library(LLVMPassname MODULE Pass.cpp)
Note if you intend for this pass to be merged into the LLVM source tree at some
point in the future it might make more sense to use LLVM's internal
``add_llvm_loadable_module`` function instead by...
Adding the following to ``<project dir>/CMakeLists.txt`` (after
``find_package(LLVM ...)``)
.. code-block:: cmake
And then changing ``<project dir>/<pass name>/CMakeLists.txt`` to
.. code-block:: cmake
When you are done developing your pass, you may wish to integrate it
into the LLVM source tree. You can achieve it in two easy steps:
#. Copying ``<pass name>`` folder into ``<LLVM root>/lib/Transform`` directory.
#. Adding ``add_subdirectory(<pass name>)`` line into
``<LLVM root>/lib/Transform/CMakeLists.txt``.
Compiler/Platform-specific topics
Notes for specific compilers and/or platforms.
Microsoft Visual C++
Specifies the maximum number of parallel compiler jobs to use per project
when building with msbuild or Visual Studio. Only supported for the Visual
Studio 2010 CMake generator. 0 means use all processors. Default is 0.