Meson has been designed to be as simple to use as possible. This page outlines the initial steps needed for installation, troubleshooting, and standard use.
For more advanced configuration please refer to the command line help
meson --help or the Meson documentation located at the
Table of Contents:
- Installation using package manager
- Installation using Python
- Installation from source
- Compiling a Meson project
- Using Meson as a distro packager
Ninja is only needed if you use the Ninja backend. Meson can also generate native VS and Xcode project files.
Installation using package manager
$ sudo apt-get install python3 python3-pip python3-setuptools \ python3-wheel ninja-build
Due to our frequent release cycle and development speed, distro packaged software may quickly become outdated.
Installation using Python
The best way to receive the most up-to-date version of Mesonbuild.
Install as a local user (recommended):
$ pip3 install --user meson
Install as root:
$ pip3 install meson
If you are unsure whether to install as root or a local user, install as a local user.
Installation from source
Meson can be run directly from the cloned git repository.
$ git clone https://github.com/mesonbuild/meson.git /path/to/sourcedir
$ meson builddir $ bash: /usr/bin/meson: No such file or directory
Description: The default installation prefix for the python pip module
installation is not included in your shell environment PATH. The
default prefix for python pip installation modules is located under
This issue can be resolved by altering the default shell environment
PATH to include
Note: There are other ways of fixing this issue such as using symlinks or copying the binaries to a default path and these methods are not recommended or supported as they may break package management interoperability.
Compiling a Meson project
The most common use case of Meson is compiling code on a code base you are working on. The steps to take are very simple.
$ cd /path/to/source/root $ meson builddir && cd builddir $ meson compile $ meson test
The only thing to note is that you need to create a separate build directory. Meson will not allow you to build source code inside your source tree. All build artifacts are stored in the build directory. This allows you to have multiple build trees with different configurations at the same time. This way generated files are not added into revision control by accident.
To recompile after code changes, just type
meson compile. The build
command is always the same. You can do arbitrary changes to source
code and build system files and Meson will detect those and will do
the right thing. If you want to build optimized binaries, just use the
--buildtype=debugoptimized when running Meson. It is
recommended that you keep one build directory for unoptimized builds
and one for optimized ones. To compile any given configuration, just
go into the corresponding build directory and run
Meson will automatically add compiler flags to enable debug
information and compiler warnings (i.e.
-Wall). This means
the user does not have to deal with them and can instead focus on
Using Meson as a distro packager
Distro packagers usually want total control on the build flags used. Meson supports this use case natively. The commands needed to build and install Meson projects are the following.
$ cd /path/to/source/root $ meson --prefix /usr --buildtype=plain builddir -Dc_args=... -Dcpp_args=... -Dc_link_args=... -Dcpp_link_args=... $ meson compile -C builddir $ meson test -C builddir $ DESTDIR=/path/to/staging/root meson install -C builddir
The command line switch
--buildtype=plain tells Meson not to add its
own flags to the command line. This gives the packager total control
on used flags.
This is very similar to other build systems. The only difference is
DESTDIR variable is passed as an environment variable
rather than as an argument to
As distro builds happen always from scratch, you might consider enabling unity builds on your packages because they are faster and produce better code. However there are many projects that do not build with unity builds enabled so the decision to use unity builds must be done by the packager on a case by case basis.
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