I have installed the latest chromium from source code successfully in Debian Stretch by the following instructions.

System requirements

  • A 64-bit Intel machine with at least 8GB of RAM. More than 16GB is highly recommended.
  • At least 100GB of free disk space.
  • You must have Git and Python installed already.

Most development is done on Ubuntu (currently 14.04, Trusty Tahr). There are some instructions for other distros below, but they are mostly unsupported.

Install depot_tools

Clone the depot_tools repository:

$ git clone https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromium/tools/depot_tools.git

Add depot_tools to the end of your PATH (you will probably want to put this in your ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc). Assuming you cloned depot_tools to /path/to/depot_tools:

$ export PATH="$PATH:/path/to/depot_tools"

Get the code

Create a chromium directory for the checkout and change to it (you can call this whatever you like and put it wherever you like, as long as the full path has no spaces):

$ mkdir ~/chromium && cd ~/chromium

Run the fetch tool from depot_tools to check out the code and its dependencies.

$ fetch --nohooks chromium

If you don’t want the full repo history, you can save a lot of time by adding the --no-history flag to fetch.

Expect the command to take 30 minutes on even a fast connection, and many hours on slower ones.

If you’ve already installed the build dependencies on the machine (from another checkout, for example), you can omit the --nohooks flag and fetch will automatically execute gclient runhooks at the end.

When fetch completes, it will have created a hidden .gclient file and a directory called src in the working directory. The remaining instructions assume you have switched to the src directory:

$ cd src

Install additional build dependencies

Once you have checked out the code, and assuming you’re using Ubuntu, run build/install-build-deps.sh

You may need to adjust the build dependencies for other distros. There are some notes at the end of this document, but we make no guarantees for their accuracy.

Run the hooks

Once you’ve run install-build-deps at least once, you can now run the Chromium-specific hooks, which will download additional binaries and other things you might need:

$ gclient runhooks

Optional: You can also install API keys if you want your build to talk to some Google services, but this is not necessary for most development and testing purposes.

Setting up the build

Chromium uses Ninja as its main build tool along with a tool called GN to generate .ninja files. You can create any number of build directories with different configurations. To create a build directory, run:

$ gn gen out/Default
  • You only have to run this once for each new build directory, Ninja will update the build files as needed.
  • You can replace Default with another name, but it should be a subdirectory of out.
  • For other build arguments, including release settings, see GN build configuration. The default will be a debug component build matching the current host operating system and CPU.
  • For more info on GN, run gn help on the command line or read the quick start guide.

Faster builds

This section contains some things you can change to speed up your builds, sorted so that the things that make the biggest difference are first.

Disable NaCl

By default, the build includes support for Native Client (NaCl), but most of the time you won’t need it. You can set the GN argument enable_nacl=false and it won’t be built.

Include fewer debug symbols

By default GN produces a build with all of the debug assertions enabled (is_debug=true) and including full debug info (symbol_level=2). Setting symbol_level=1 will produce enough information for stack traces, but not line-by-line debugging. Setting symbol_level=0 will include no debug symbols at all. Either will speed up the build compared to full symbols.

Due to its extensive use of templates, the Blink code produces about half of our debug symbols. If you don’t ever need to debug Blink, you can set the GN arg remove_webcore_debug_symbols=true.

Use Icecc

Icecc is the distributed compiler with a central scheduler to share build load. Currently, many external contributors use it. e.g. Intel, Opera, Samsung (Googlers use an internal system called Goma).

In order to use icecc, set the following GN args:


See these links for more on the bundled_binutils limitation, the debug fission limitation.

Using the system linker may also be necessary when using glibc 2.21 or newer. See related bug.


You can use ccache to speed up local builds (again, this is not useful if you’re using a Googler using Goma).

Increase your ccache hit rate by setting CCACHE_BASEDIR to a parent directory that the working directories all have in common (e.g., /home/yourusername/development). Consider using CCACHE_SLOPPINESS=include_file_mtime (since if you are using multiple working directories, header times in svn sync’ed portions of your trees will be different - see the ccache troubleshooting section for additional information). If you use symbolic links from your home directory to get to the local physical disk directory where you keep those working development directories, consider putting

alias cd="cd -P"

in your .bashrc so that $PWD or cwd always refers to a physical, not logical directory (and make sure CCACHE_BASEDIR also refers to a physical parent).

If you tune ccache correctly, a second working directory that uses a branch tracking trunk and is up to date with trunk and was gclient sync’ed at about the same time should build chrome in about 1/3 the time, and the cache misses as reported by ccache -s should barely increase.

This is especially useful if you use git-new-workdir and keep multiple local working directories going at once.

Using tmpfs

You can use tmpfs for the build output to reduce the amount of disk writes required. I.e. mount tmpfs to the output directory where the build output goes:

As root:

mount -t tmpfs -o size=20G,nr_inodes=40k,mode=1777 tmpfs /path/to/out

* note **Caveat: You need to have enough RAM + swap to back the tmpfs. For a full debug build, you will need about 20 GB. Less for just building the chrome target or for a release build. ***

Quick and dirty benchmark numbers on a HP Z600 (Intel core i7, 16 cores hyperthreaded, 12 GB RAM)

  • With tmpfs:
    • 12m:20s
  • Without tmpfs
    • 15m:40s

Build Chromium

Build Chromium (the “chrome” target) with Ninja using the command:

$ ninja -C out/Default chrome

You can get a list of all of the other build targets from GN by running gn ls out/Default from the command line. To compile one, pass the GN label to Ninja with no preceding “//” (so, for //chrome/test:unit_tests use ninja -C out/Default chrome/test:unit_tests).

Run Chromium

Once it is built, you can simply run the browser:

$ out/Default/chrome

Running test targets

You can run the tests in the same way. You can also limit which tests are run using the --gtest_filter arg, e.g.:

$ out/Default/unit_tests --gtest_filter="PushClientTest.*"

You can find out more about GoogleTest at its GitHub page.

Update your checkout

To update an existing checkout, you can run

$ git rebase-update
$ gclient sync

The first command updates the primary Chromium source repository and rebases any of your local branches on top of tip-of-tree (aka the Git branch origin/master). If you don’t want to use this script, you can also just use git pull or other common Git commands to update the repo.

The second command syncs dependencies to the appropriate versions and re-runs hooks as needed.

Tips, tricks, and troubleshooting

Linker Crashes

If, during the final link stage:

LINK out/Debug/chrome

You get an error like:

collect2: ld terminated with signal 6 Aborted terminate called after throwing an instance of 'std::bad_alloc'
collect2: ld terminated with signal 11 [Segmentation fault], core dumped

you are probably running out of memory when linking. You must use a 64-bit system to build. Try the following build settings (see GN build configuration for other settings):

  • Build in release mode (debugging symbols require more memory): is_debug = false
  • Turn off symbols: symbol_level = 0
  • Build in component mode (this is for development only, it will be slower and may have broken functionality): is_component_build = true

Next Steps

If you want to contribute to the effort toward a Chromium-based browser for Linux, please check out the Linux Development page for more information.


linux_build_instructions.md from Chromium Documents