How do I do X in Meson?

This page lists code snippets for common tasks. These are written mostly using the C compiler, but the same approach should work on almost all other compilers.

Set compiler

When first running Meson, set it in an environment variable.

$ CC=mycc meson <options>

Note that environment variables like CC only refer to the host platform in cross builds. That is, CC refers to the compiler used to compile programs that run on the machine we will eventually install the project on. The compiler used to build things that run on the machine we do the building can be specified with CC_FOR_BUILD. You can use it in cross builds.

Note that environment variables are never the idiomatic way to do anything with Meson, however. It is better to use the native and cross files. And the tools for the host platform in cross builds can only be specified with a cross file.

There is a table of all environment variables supported Here

Set linker

New in 0.53.0

Like the compiler, the linker is selected via the <compiler variable>_LD environment variable, or through the <compiler entry>_ld entry in a native or cross file. You must be aware of whether you're using a compiler that invokes the linker itself (most compilers including GCC and Clang) or a linker that is invoked directly (when using MSVC or compilers that act like it, including Clang-Cl). With the former c_ld or CC_LD should be the value to pass to the compiler's special argument (such as -fuse-ld with clang and gcc), with the latter it should be an executable, such as lld-link.exe.

NOTE In Meson 0.53.0 the ld entry in the cross/native file and the LD environment variable were used, this resulted in a large number of regressions and was changed in 0.53.1 to <lang>_ld and <comp variable>_LD.

$ CC=clang CC_LD=lld meson <options>


$ CC=clang-cl CC_LD=link meson <options>

or in a cross or native file:

c = 'clang'
c_ld = 'lld'

There is a table of all environment variables supported Here

Set default C/C++ language version

project('myproj', 'c', 'cpp',
        default_options : ['c_std=c11', 'cpp_std=c++11'])

The language version can also be set on a per-target basis.

executable(..., override_options : ['c_std=c11'])

Enable threads

Lots of people seem to do this manually with cc.find_library('pthread') or something similar. Do not do that. It is not portable. Instead do this.

thread_dep = dependency('threads')
executable(..., dependencies : thread_dep)

Set extra compiler and linker flags from the outside (when e.g. building distro packages)

The behavior is the same as with other build systems, with environment variables during first invocation. Do not use these when you need to rebuild the source

$ CFLAGS=-fsomething LDFLAGS=-Wl,--linker-flag meson <options>

Use an argument only with a specific compiler

First check which arguments to use.

if meson.get_compiler('c').get_id() == 'clang'
  extra_args = ['-fclang-flag']
  extra_args = []

Then use it in a target.

executable(..., c_args : extra_args)

If you want to use the arguments on all targets, then do this.

if meson.get_compiler('c').get_id() == 'clang'
  add_global_arguments('-fclang-flag', language : 'c')

Set a command's output to configuration

txt = run_command('script', 'argument', check: true).stdout().strip()
cdata = configuration_data()
cdata.set('SOMETHING', txt)

Generate configuration data from files

The fs module offers the read function which enables adding the contents of arbitrary files to configuration data (among other uses):

fs = import('fs')
cdata = configuration_data()
copyright ='LICENSE')
cdata.set('COPYRIGHT', copyright)
if build_machine.system() == 'linux'
    os_release ='/etc/os-release')
    cdata.set('LINUX_BUILDER', os_release)

Generate a runnable script with configure_file

configure_file preserves metadata so if your template file has execute permissions, the generated file will have them too.

Producing a coverage report

First initialize the build directory with this command.

$ meson setup <other flags> -Db_coverage=true

Then issue the following commands.

$ meson compile
$ meson test
$ ninja coverage-html (or coverage-xml)

The coverage report can be found in the meson-logs subdirectory.

New in 0.55.0 llvm-cov support for use with clang

Add some optimization to debug builds

By default the debug build does not use any optimizations. This is the desired approach most of the time. However some projects benefit from having some minor optimizations enabled. GCC even has a specific compiler flag -Og for this. To enable its use, just issue the following command.

$ meson configure -Dc_args=-Og

This causes all subsequent builds to use this command line argument.

Use address sanitizer

Clang and gcc come with a selection of analysis tools such as the address sanitizer. Meson has native support for these with the b_sanitize option.

$ meson setup <other options> -Db_sanitize=address

After this you just compile your code and run the test suite. Address sanitizer will abort executables which have bugs so they show up as test failures.

Use Clang static analyzer

Install scan-build program, then do this:

$ meson setup builddir
$ ninja -C builddir scan-build

You can use the SCANBUILD environment variable to choose the scan-build executable.

$ SCANBUILD=<your exe> ninja -C builddir scan-build

You can use it for passing arguments to scan-build program by creating a script, for example:

scan-build -v --status-bugs "$@"

And then pass it through the variable (remember to use absolute path):

$ SCANBUILD=$(pwd)/ ninja -C builddir scan-build

Use profile guided optimization

Using profile guided optimization with GCC is a two phase operation. First we set up the project with profile measurements enabled and compile it.

$ meson setup <Meson options, such as --buildtype=debugoptimized> -Db_pgo=generate
$ meson compile -C builddir

Then we need to run the program with some representative input. This step depends on your project.

Once that is done we change the compiler flags to use the generated information and rebuild.

$ meson configure -Db_pgo=use
$ meson compile

After these steps the resulting binary is fully optimized.

Add math library (-lm) portably

Some platforms (e.g. Linux) have a standalone math library. Other platforms (pretty much everyone else) do not. How to specify that m is used only when needed?

cc = meson.get_compiler('c')
m_dep = cc.find_library('m', required : false)
executable(..., dependencies : m_dep)

Install an executable to libexecdir

executable(..., install : true, install_dir : get_option('libexecdir'))

Use existing Find<name>.cmake files

Meson can use the CMake find_package() ecosystem if CMake is installed. To find a dependency with custom Find<name>.cmake, set the cmake_module_path property to the path in your project where the CMake scripts are stored.

Example for a FindCmakeOnlyDep.cmake in a cmake subdirectory:

cm_dep = dependency('CmakeOnlyDep', cmake_module_path : 'cmake')

The cmake_module_path property is only needed for custom CMake scripts. System wide CMake scripts are found automatically.

More information can be found here

Get a default not-found dependency?

null_dep = dependency('', required : false)

This can be used in cases where you want a default value, but might override it later.

# Not needed on Windows!
my_dep = dependency('', required : false)
if host_machine.system() in ['freebsd', 'netbsd', 'openbsd', 'dragonfly']
  my_dep = dependency('some dep', required : false)
elif host_machine.system() == 'linux'
  my_dep = dependency('some other dep', required : false)

  deps : [my_dep]

Exclude a file from unity builds

If your project supports unity builds, you should fix any bugs that crop up when source files are concatenated together. Sometimes this isn't possible, though, for example if the source files are generated.

In this case, you can put them in a separate static library build target and override the unity setting.

generated_files = ...
unityproof_lib = static_library('unityproof', generated_files,
  override_options : ['unity=off'])

main_exe = executable('main', main_sources, link_with : unityproof_lib)

To link the static library into another library target, you may need to use link_whole instead of link_with.

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