Building LLVM on Windows using MinGW32

As I've mentioned in passing, one of the things I'm playing with in my spare time (or will play with, now that I've got everything working, I think) is the LLVM toolchain. In essence, it looks to be a parallel to Microsoft's Phoenix, except that it's out, it's been in use in production environments (Apple is a major contributor to the project and uses it pretty extensively, it seems), and it supports not only C/C++ and Objective-C, but also Ada and Fortran. It's also a useful back-end for people writing languages, hence my interest.

One of the things that appeals about LLVM is that it uses an "intermediate representation" that in many ways reminds me of Phoenix's Low IR, though I'm sure there are significant differences that I'm not well-practiced enough to spot. Consider this bit of Fibonacci code, for example:

   1: define i32 @fib(i32 %AnArg) {
   2: EntryBlock:
   3:     %cond = icmp sle i32 %AnArg, 2        ; <i1> [#uses=1]
   4:     br i1 %cond, label %return, label %recurse
   6: return:        ; preds = %EntryBlock
   7:     ret i32 1
   9: recurse:        ; preds = %EntryBlock
  10:     %arg = sub i32 %AnArg, 1        ; <i32> [#uses=1]
  11:     %fibx1 = tail call i32 @fib( i32 %arg )        ; <i32> [#uses=1]
  12:     %arg1 = sub i32 %AnArg, 2        ; <i32> [#uses=1]
  13:     %fibx2 = tail call i32 @fib( i32 %arg1 )        ; <i32> [#uses=1]
  14:     %addresult = add i32 %fibx1, %fibx2        ; <i32> [#uses=1]
  15:     ret i32 %addresult
  16: }
  18: declare void @abort()

It's rather interesting to imagine this as a direct by-product of that first pass off of the hypothetical Universal AST....

Getting this thing to build has been an exercise of patience, however.

The documentation on the website, while extensive, isn't very Windows-friendly. For example, there's a page that describes how to build it with Visual Studio, but it's a touch out-of-date. On top of that, it turns out that the VS/LLVM tools can't compile to LLVM bitcode, only execute it once it's in that format; you need "llvm-gcc" to compile to bitcode, which means you're left with a two-machine solution: a *nix box using llvm-gcc to compile the code, and then your Windows box to run it. Ugh.

Fortunately, Windows users have two choices for dealing with *nix solutions: Cygwin and MinGW32. The first tries to lay down a *nix-like layer on top of the Win32 APIs (meaning everything depends on cygwin1.dll once built), the second tries to provide an adapter layer such that when a *nix tool is done building, it has no dependencies beyond what you'd see from any other Win32 app. Debates rage about the validity of each, and rather than seem like I'm coming down in favor of one or the other, I'll simply note that I have both installed in my Languages VMWare image now, and leave it at that.

Building LLVM with MinGW was a bit more painful than I expected, however, so for a long time I just didn't bother. Last night that changed, thanks to Anton Korobeynikov, who spent the better part of three or four hours in back-and-forth email conversation with me, walking me patiently through the step-by-step of getting MinGW and msys up and running on my machine long enough to build the LLVM 2.2+ (meaning the tip beyond the current 2.2 release) code base. I can't thank him enough--both for the direct help in getting the MinGW bits up and in the right places as well as for the casual conversation about MinGW along the way--so I thought I'd replicate what we did on my box to the 'Net in an attempt to spare others the effort.

First, there's a pile of tarballs from the MinGW download page that require downloading and extracting:

  • gcc-g++-3.4.5-20060117-1.tar.gz
  • binutils-2.18.50-20080109.tar.gz
  • mingw-runtime-3.14.tar.gz
  • gcc-core-3.4.5-20060117-1.tar.gz
  • w32api-3.11.tar.gz

Note that I also pulled down the other gcc- tarballs (gcj, objc and so on), just because I wanted to play with the MinGW versions of these tools. Extract all of these into a directory; on my system, that's C:/Prg/MinGW.

(There is a .exe installer on the Sourceforge page that supposedly manages all this for you, but it installed the binutils-2.17 package instead of 2.18, and I couldn't figure out how to get it to grab 2.18. All it does is download these packages and extract them, so going without it isn't a huge ordeal.)

By the way, if you're curious about experimenting with gcj as well (hey, it's a Java compiler that compiles to native code--that's interesting in its own right, if you ask me), take careful note that as it stands right now in the installation process, you can run gcj but can't compile with it--it complains about a missing library, "iconv". This is a known bug, it seems, and the solution is to install libiconv from the GnuWin32 project--just extract the "bin" and "lib" packages into C:/Prg/MinGW.

At this point, you're done with C:/Prg/MinGW32.

Next, there's a couple of installers and additional tarballs that need downloading and extracting:

  • MSYS-1.0.10.exe
  • msysDTK-1.0.1.exe
  • bash-3.1-MSYS-1.0.11-1.tar.bz2
  • bison-2.3-MSYS-1.0.11.tar.bz2
  • flex-2.5.33-MSYS-1.0.11.tar.bz2
  • regex-0.12-MSYS-1.0.11.tar.bz2 (required by flex)

The first two just execute and install; on my system, that is C:/Prg/msys/1.0. The next one just extracts into the C:/Prg/msys/1.0 directory. The last three are a tad tricky, however--apparently they assume that everything should be installed into a top-level "usr" directory, and that's not quite where we want them; we want them. Apparently, we want them installed directly (so that "/usr/bin" from bison goes into "/bin" inside of "C:/Prg/msys/1.0"), so extract these to a temporary directory, then xcopy everything inside the temp/usr directory over to C:/Prg/msys/1.0. (That is, "cd temp", then "cd usr", then "xcopy /s/e * C:/Prg/msys/1.0".)

At this point, we're done with the setup--create a directory into which you want LLVM built (on my system, that's C:/Prg/LLVM/msys-build, where the source from SVN is held in C:/Prg/LLVM/llvm-svn), and execute the "configure" script in this directory (that is, "cd C:/Prg/LLVM/msys-build" and "../llvm-svn/configure"). The script will deposit a bunch of makefiles and directories into the build directory, after which a simple "make" suffices to build everything (in Debug; if you want Release, do "make ENABLE_OPTIMIZED=1", as per the LLVM documentation).

Thanks again, Anton! Now can you help me get llvm-gcc working? :-)