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 always refer to the native compiler. That is, the compiler used to compile programs that run on the current machine. The compiler used in cross compilation is set with the cross file.

This behaviour is different from e.g. Autotools, where cross compilation is done by setting CC to point to the cross compiler (such as /usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc). The reason for this is that Meson supports natively the case where you compile helper tools (such as code generators) and use the results during the build. Because of this Meson needs to know both the native and the cross compiler. The former is set via the environment variables and the latter via the cross file only.

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 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').stdout().strip()
cdata = configuration_data()
cdata.set('SOMETHING', txt)

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 <other flags> -Db_coverage=true

Then issue the following commands.

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

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

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

$ meson <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 and configure your project. Then do this:

$ ninja scan-build

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

$ SCANBUILD=<your exe> ninja 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  <Meson options, such as --buildtype=debugoptimized> -Db_pgo=generate
$ ninja -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
$ ninja

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

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