Building VTR


VTR uses CMake as it’s build system.

CMake provides a portable cross-platform build systems with many useful features.


For unix-like systems we provide a wrapper Makefile which supports the traditional make and make clean commands, but calls CMake behind the scenes.


For the basic tools you need:

  • Bison & Flex
  • cmake, make
  • A modern C++ compiler supporting C++14 (such as GCC >= 4.9 or clang >= 3.6)

For the VPR GUI you need:

  • Cairo
  • FreeType
  • Xft (libXft + libX11)
  • fontconfig

For the regression testing and benchmarking you will need:

  • Perl + List::MoreUtils
  • Python
  • time

It is also recommended you install the following development tools:

  • git
  • ctags
  • gdb
  • valgrind

For Docs generation you will need:

  • Doxygen
  • python-sphinx
  • python-sphinx-rtd-theme
  • python-recommonmark

Debian & Ubuntu

The following should be enough to get the tools, VPR GUI and tests going on a modern Debian or Ubuntu system:

apt-get install \
    build-essential \
    flex \
    bison \
    cmake \
    fontconfig \
    libcairo2-dev \
    libfontconfig1-dev \
    libx11-dev \
    libxft-dev \
    perl \
    liblist-moreutils-perl \
    python \

For documentation generation these additional packages are required:

apt-get install \
    doxygen \
    python-sphinx \
    python-sphinx-rtd-theme \

For development the following additional packages are useful:

apt-get install \
    git \
    valgrind \
    gdb \

Building using the Makefile wrapper

Run make from the root of the VTR source tree

#In the VTR root
$ make
[100%] Built target vpr

Specifying the build type

You can specify the build type by passing the BUILD_TYPE parameter.

For instance to create a debug build (no optimization and debug symbols):

#In the VTR root
$ make BUILD_TYPE=debug
[100%] Built target vpr

Passing parameters to CMake

You can also pass parameters to CMake.

For instance to set the CMake configuration variable VTR_ENABLE_SANITIZE on:

#In the VTR root
[100%] Built target vpr

Both the BUILD_TYPE and CMAKE_PARAMS can be specified concurrently:

#In the VTR root
[100%] Built target vpr

Using CMake directly

You can also use cmake directly.

First create a build directory under the VTR root:

#In the VTR root
$ mkdir build
$ cd build

#Call cmake pointing to the directory containing the root CMakeLists.txt
$ cmake ..

$ make

Changing configuration on the command line

You can change the CMake configuration by passing command line parameters.

For instance to set the configuration to debug:

#In the build directory
$ cmake . -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debug

$ make

Changing configuration interactively with ccmake

You can also use ccmake to to modify the build configuration.

#From the build directory
$ ccmake . #Make some configuration change

$ make

Other platforms

CMake supports a variety of operating systems and can generate project files for a variety of build systems and IDEs. While VTR is developed primarily on Linux, it should be possible to build on different platforms (your milage may vary). See the CMake documentation for more details about using cmake and generating project files on other platforms and build systems (e.g. Eclipse, Microsoft Visual Studio).

Microsoft Windows

NOTE: VTR support on Microsoft Windows is considered experimental


Cygwin provides a POSIX (i.e. unix-like) environment for Microsoft Windows.

From within the cygwin terminal follow the Unix-like build instructions listed above.

Note that the generated executables will rely upon Cygwin (e.g. cygwin1.dll) for POSIX compatibility.

Cross-compiling from Linux to Microsoft Windows with MinGW-W64

It is possible to cross-compile from a Linux host system to generate Microsoft Windows executables using the MinGW-W64 compilers. These can usually be installed with your Linux distribution’s package manager (e.g. sudo apt-get install mingw-w64 on Debian/Ubuntu).

Unlike Cygwin, MinGW executables will depend upon the standard Microsoft Visual C++ run-time.

To build VTR using MinGW:

#In the VTR root
$ mkdir build_win64
$ cd build_win64

#Run cmake specifying the toolchain file to setup the cross-compilation environment
$ cmake .. -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE ../cmake/toolchains/mingw-linux-cross-compile-to-windows.cmake

#Building will produce Windows executables
$ make

Note that by default the MS Windows target system will need to dynamically link to the libgcc and libstdc++ DLLs. These are usually found under /usr/lib/gcc on the Linux host machine.

See the toolchain file for more details.

Microsoft Visual Studio

CMake can generate a Microsft Visual Studio project, enabling VTR to be built with the Microsoft Visual C++ (MSVC) compiler.

Installing additional tools

VTR depends on some external unix-style tools during it’s buid process; in particular the flex and bison parser generators.

One approach is to install these tools using MSYS2, which provides up-to-date versions of many unix tools for MS Windows.

To ensure CMake can find the flex and bison executables you must ensure that they are available on your system path. For instance, if MSYS2 was installed to C:\msys64 you would need to ensure that C:\msys64\usr\bin was included in the system PATH environment variable.

Generating the Visual Studio Project

CMake (e.g. the cmake-gui) can then be configured to generate the MSVC project.