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Build LLVM and clang!

I’ve talked about the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure in the past, but what I haven’t talked about yet is just how easy and quickly you can build it on your own Mac running Leopard! This is a great way to get into hacking on compiler lexical analyzers and parsers, code generators, optimizers, and so on.

What’s more, you can build both LLVM and the new C front-end clang very easily and in five to ten minutes.

First, create a work area to check them out into, wherever you normally create your projects.

[~]% cd /Projects
[/Projects]% mkdir LLVM
[/Projects]% cd LLVM
[/Projects/LLVM]%

Then check out LLVM itself and clang from the LLVM Subversion repository.

[/Projects/LLVM]% svn checkout http://llvm.org/svn/llvm-project/llvm/trunk llvm
[/Projects/LLVM]% cd llvm/tools
[/Projects/LLVM/llvm/tools]% svn checkout http://llvm.org/svn/llvm-project/cfe/trunk clang
[/Projects/LLVM/llvm/tools]% cd ../..
[/Projects/LLVM]%

Then edit the PARALLEL_DIRS definition in llvm/tools/Makefile to tell it about clang. Just add clang onto the end, like this:

PARALLEL_DIRS := llvm-config  \
                 opt llvm-as llvm-dis \
                 llc llvm-ranlib llvm-ar llvm-nm \
                 llvm-ld llvm-prof llvm-link \
                 lli gccas gccld llvm-extract llvm-db \
                 bugpoint llvm-bcanalyzer llvm-stub llvmc2 \
                 clang

Now create a directory to build into, next to your llvm directory, and change into it.

[/Projects/LLVM]% mkdir build
[/Projects/LLVM]% cd build
[/Projects/LLVM/build]%

This is where you’ll actually run configure. This will ensure your source tree isn’t polluted with build products, and that everything stays self-contained while you hack.

[/Projects/LLVM/build]% ../llvm/configure --enable-targets=host-only
# lots of logging
[/Projects/LLVM/build]%

You’ll note that above I passed an argument to configure. This ensures that LLVM is only built to target the architecture I’m running on, to speed up the build process; this is generally fine for simple front-end development.

Now, to build LLVM as well as clang all I have to do is invoke make. LLVM is set up to correctly do parallel builds, so I’ll pass the number of CPUs I have in my machine via make -j 4.

[/Projects/LLVM/build]% make -j 4
# lots of logging
[/Projects/LLVM/build]%

That’s it! LLVM is now (hopefully) successfully built. All of the pieces are in the build directory under Debug/bin and Debug/lib and so on; see the LLVM web site for details about what the various components are.

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