Building frustration

Raffaello Giulietti raffaello.giulietti at
Sat Dec 26 21:38:19 UTC 2015

Hi Stefan,

thanks for your supporting words (fyi, Raffaella with the final "a" in
your reply is the female variant of my first name).

I followed your suggestion and decided to give Ubuntu a try.

After installing the stock Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS Desktop, I just had to
additionally install
* mercurial (package)
* g++ (package)
* ant (package)
* Oracle JDK 8 (manual installation)
* Eclipse (manual installation)
to be able to finally follow the instructions on the Graal Wiki to build
the project and to configure Eclipse.

I dislike Ubuntu for other reasons not related to Truffle/Graal.
However, I have to admit that, at least for the purpose of building
Truffle/Graal and for working on it, it was much smoother an experience
than with CentOS, Fedora and Oracle Linux, all of them I tried before.
Hence, I think I'll stick with it.

I still have two questions:

* The very last command on does not work
for me, although the IGV starts without problems. The message reads:

Unrecognized option: -jvmci

(I've configured the "server" HotSpot VM during the build.) For the time
being I can live without the internals of Graal's IR, but one day I'd
like to have a look at it, just as user, not as developer.

* On there is still
a mention to the JDK 7. However, it seems to work even without it. What
is the current wisdom?


On 2015-12-24 19:24, Stefan Marr wrote:
> Hi Raffaella:
>> On 24 Dec 2015, at 19:08, Raffaello Giulietti <raffaello.giulietti at> wrote:
>> There are two kind of Truffle/Graal users:
>> (1) Those who like or need to be in control of every aspect of Truffle
>> and Graal. They have come to master configurations, builds, flags,
>> environment variables and can tweak with every detail of the product.
>> They know Mercurial, mx, the C++ compilers and all sort of other great
>> tools.
>> (2) And those who would like to use Truffle/Graal to experiment with
>> language implementations. They tend to avoid diving into low level
>> aspects of building Truffle and Graal, not because of lack of interest
>> but because of the limited time they can devote in fighting against
>> unset flags, missing libraries, obsolete documentation, undocumented
>> dependencies and so on.
> Generally, I absolutely agree with your concerns and had the same issues in the beginning.
> But at least for Linux, I’d think that the situation improved quite a bit since the requirement of having two JDKs installed was dropped.
> Based on my last write up [1], I’d think that on a Ubuntu system you only need the build-essential  package (`sudo apt-get install build-essential`) and a recent JDK 8 [2].
> I don’t have any experience with other Linux system, but I’d assume it is similar.
> With that foundation, mx should take care of the rest. And it is also easily automatized. I am using for instance the script here [3] to keep the build server updated and managed via git (it uses hg only internally) 
>> In the past I've tried on Windows, with a low rate of success. Hence, I
>> decided to switch to Linux (a couple of distributions, currently on
>> Oracle Linux 7.2). I often stumble against similar problems.
> What are your concrete problems, could you provide more details? 
>> I conclude that building Truffle/Graal from source is currently simply
>> not robust enough because of the many moving parts: the OSes, the
>> standard tools, the standard libraries, the user environment, the
>> documentation, the dependencies, etc.
> Without more details, I am not sure what could be done.
> Actually, I’d find the list of instructions on the Graal wiki already pretty minimal [4].
> And I am not aware of any ‘unusual’ software requirements/library dependencies. 
>> * Much more frequently updated binaries for various platforms. I
>> understand this means more work for Oracle Labs and/or JKU.
> Hm, we got some internal infrastructure with nightly builds. But I don’t think that covers your request with ‘various platforms’.
> My personal approach would be to make building from source as reliable, robust, and easy as possible. Especially for researchers. Because only then you really know what’s in the system.
> But if there are issues with it, I think, we could really use more details.
>> * Or a robust build system for dummies like me, interested in making
>> good use of the product but unwilling to spend a long time in
>> understanding obscure error messages on failed builds to discover that
>> some undocumented and unknown environment variable was set incorrectly.
> Yeah, well, we need bug reports for that :)
> Please, send a mail to the list as soon as you hit a stumbling block! In many cases, we might be able to do something in the build system (mx) or at least give guidance.
>> * How many of you are experiencing similar frustrating build problems?
> In the beginning, yes. But since we only need a single JDK, I didn’t have problems.
> Also, we fixed mx to set standard settings for problematic platforms like OS X, which wasn’t automatic in the beginning. Since then, I didn’t have issues I think.
>> * How many of you have invested or still invest hours adjusting and
>> tuning your working environment so as to make something like "mx spull ;
>> mx build” work without fuss?
> In very very rare cases there were issues with mx and project configurations in the past (if I remember correctly). Don’t remember any concrete blocking issues thought.
>> * What can we do in practical terms to document the many tweaks one must
>> be aware of to turn frustration into joy?
> Well :) I am not aware of any, but they should all go on [4].
> If you got something that is missing, please report it.
>> Ideally, we should strive to a build system that can check the user
>> environment and suggest everything s/he shall undertake preemptively to
>> make a build succeed without troubles.
> At least from my experience, mx already does a pretty good job with that.
> But please report missing things :)
> Best regards
> Stefan
> [1]
> [2]
> [3]
> [4]

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