How to build LLVM from source

If I write this down, maybe I won’t forget it next time!

There are two plausible sources of the LLVM codebase:$FOO.git and$FOO.git. The GitHub mirror seems to be faster than; plus, we’re going to want to fork it on GitHub to track our changes.

(However, to submit patches to LLVM projects, you must use the official Phabricator; don’t submit GitHub pull requests against the llvm-mirror mirrors!)

Step 1: Fork!

Go to your GitHub account and fork each of the following repos:

Step 2: Get the code!

Locally clone the repos to the right places.

cd $ROOT               ; git clone
cd $ROOT/llvm/tools    ; git clone

Here are the right places for some other useful (but unnecessary) repos.

cd $ROOT/llvm/projects          ; git clone
cd $ROOT/llvm/projects          ; git clone
cd $ROOT/llvm/tools             ; git clone
cd $ROOT/llvm/tools/clang/tools ; git clone extra

(Notice that clang-tools-extra’s repo name doesn’t match its expected directory name. We snuck an extra parameter onto the end of that git clone line.)

This is a good time to set up the .git/config for each of the repos you just cloned (for example, $ROOT/llvm/.git/config). I set it up this way:

[remote "origin"]
    url =
    fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*
[remote "upstream"]
    url =
    fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/upstream/*
[branch "master"]
    remote = upstream
    merge = refs/heads/master

This gives me two remotes: one named upstream whence I can pull, and one named origin whither I can push. My local master and origin/master will both track upstream/master. Anything I do in my local repo, I will do in a feature branch; my feature branches will track origin.

Step 3: Build!

mkdir -p $ROOT/llvm/build
cd $ROOT/llvm/build
cmake -G 'Unix Makefiles' \
    -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo ..
make -j5 clang
make -j5 check-clang

If you omit -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo, this first part will still work, but you’ll produce a “debug-build” version of clang that is super slow, and then the “bootstrap” step below will take days instead of minutes. So watch out for that.

make -j5 clang takes about 80 minutes on my laptop. make -j5 check-clang takes another 37 minutes (27 minutes to build clang-tidy for some reason, and then another 10 minutes to run the actual tests).

Making clang will build both clang and clang++. Making cxx will build libc++ (and also libc++abi, which is included in the libcxx repo). Making check-$FOO will build and run the test suite for $FOO:

make -j5 check-clang check-cxx

If something goes wrong, you can usually recover via

rm $ROOT/llvm/build/CMakeCache.txt

and, absolute worst case, you can blow away $ROOT/llvm/build and start over.

Step 4: Run specific tests.

Running a specific test or directory-of-tests for any product is easy:

cd $ROOT/llvm/build
./bin/llvm-lit -sv ../test/Analysis
./bin/llvm-lit -sv ../tools/clang/test/ARCMT
./bin/llvm-lit -sv ../projects/libcxx/test/std/re

However, it looks like before you can successfully run one of these lines, you must have run the corresponding one of make check-{llvm,clang,cxx} at least once, to initialize the right stuff in the build directory.

(Thanks to Brian Cain for documenting this recipe.)

But watch out! Both make check-cxx and llvm-lit will by default use your system compiler to run the libc++ tests! This is not what you want! Tell llvm-lit to use your newly built Clang by passing the cxx_under_test parameter, like this:

./bin/llvm-lit -sv --param cxx_under_test=`pwd`/bin/clang ../projects/libcxx/test/

Step 5: Bootstrap!

This is where it might get non-portable for people who aren’t on OS X, I’m not sure. Here we will not be installing Clang over top of the system compiler (super dangerous!); but we will instruct CMake to build Clang using the previously built Clang.

There is apparently an official way to bootstrap Clang:

cd $ROOT/llvm/build
make -j5 clang
cmake -G 'Unix Makefiles' \
    -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo ..
make -j5 stage2

However, when I get to make -j5 stage2, it fails with a CMake error:

Host Clang must be able to find libstdc++4.8 or newer!

So when I bootstrap Clang, I use this crude approach inspired by the CMake FAQ:

cd $ROOT/llvm/build
rm CMakeCache.txt
CXX="$ROOT/llvm/build/bin/clang++" \
CXXFLAGS="-cxx-isystem /Applications/ -isystem /usr/include" \
cmake -G 'Unix Makefiles' \
    -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo ..
cp bin/clang-8 clang-ok
find ../include/ -name '*.h' | xargs touch
make -j5 clang VERBOSE=1

(This takes the same 80 minutes as the original make -j5 clang did.)

(If you have checked out libcxx, you can try substituting $ROOT/llvm/projects/libcxx/include for /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr/include/c++/v1.)

This crude approach will of course overwrite your “good” build/bin/clang++ (the one that successfully compiled Clang) with a new version (which for all you know might not compile Clang), so that’s why I did cp bin/clang-8 clang-ok before running make -j5 clang the second time. (Make sure you cp the actual executable and not just a symlink to it!)

Posted 2018-04-16