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JHBuild is a tool designed to ease building collections of source packages, called “modules”.

JHBuild was originally written for building GNOME, but has since been extended to be usable with other projects.

JHBuild requires Python >= 2.3

Installing JHBuild

Refer to the 'Getting Started' section of the JHBuild manual:

yelp /jhbuild-source-dir/doc/C/index.docbook

Or refer to the on-line JHBuild manual at:


Using JHBuild

JHBuild uses a command line syntax similar to tools like CVS:

jhbuild [global-options] command [command-arguments]

The global JHBuild options are:

-f, --file config
  Use an alternative configuration file instead of the default ~/.config/jhbuildrc.
-m, --moduleset moduleset
  Use a module set other than the module set listed in the configuration file. This option can be a relative path if the module set is located in the JHBuild moduleset folder, or an absolute path if located elsewhere.
--no-interact Do not prompt the user for any input. This option is useful if leaving a build unattended, in order to ensure the build is not interrupted.

Refer to the JHBuild manual for a complete list of JHBuild commands and options. The common ones are:

jhbuild bootstrap

The bootstrap command installs a set of build utilities. The build utilities include autoconf , automake and similar utilities. The recommended method to install the build utilities is via your distribution's package management system. The bootstrap should only be used if the build utilites are not provided by your distribution's package management system, for example on Mac OS.

jhbuild build [--autogen] [--clean] [--dist] [--distcheck] [--ignore-suggests] [--no-network] [--skip=module...] [--start-at=module] [--tags=tags] [-D date] [--no-xvfb] [--try-checkout] [--no-poison] [--force] [--build-optional-modules] [--min-age=time] [module...]

The build command builds one or more packages, including their dependencies.

If no module names are provided on the command line, the modules list from the configuration file will be used.

-a, --autogen Always run autogen.sh before building modules. By default, autogen.sh will only be called if the top-level makefile is missing. Otherwise, JHBuild relies on the package's makefiles to detect if configure needs to be rebuilt or rerun.
-c, --clean Run make clean before building modules.
-d, --dist Run make dist after building modules.
--distcheck Run make distcheck after building modules.
  Do not build soft dependencies.
-n, --no-network
  Do not access the network when building modules. This will skip download or update stages in a build. If a module can't be built without network access, the module build will fail.
-s, --skip=<module,...>
  Do not build the listed modules. Used to skip the building of specified dependencies.
  Ignore modules that do not match tag. Modules are automatically attributed a tag matching the name of the module's module set.
-t, --start-at=module
  Start at the named module rather than at the beginning of the list. This option is useful if the build was interrupted.
-D date If supported by the underlying version control system, update the source tree to the specified date before building. An ISO date format is required, e.g. "2009-09-18 02:32Z".
-x, --no-xvfb Run graphical tests on the actual X server rather than in a simulated Xvfb.
-C, --try-checkout
  If the build fails, and if supported by the version control system, force a checkout and run autogen.sh before retrying the build.
-N, --no-poison
  If one or more of a module's dependencies failed, this option forces JHBuild to try to build the module anyway.
-f, --force Build the modules even if policy states it is not required.
  Modules listed as optional dependencies, may not be required to build the module. This option forces JHBuild to build optional dependencies.
--min-age=time Skip modules installed more recently than the specified relative time. The time string format is a number followed by a unit. The following units are supported: seconds (s), minutes (m), hours (h) and days (d). For example, --min-age=2h will skip modules built less than two hours ago.

jhbuild buildone [--autogen] [--clean] [--distcheck] [--no-network] [-D date] [--no-xvfb] [--force] [--min-age=time] module...

The buildone command is similar to build, but it does not build the dependent modules. It is useful for rebuilding one or more modules.

jhbuild sanitycheck

The sanitycheck command performs a number of checks to verify the build environment is okay.

For details of all jbhuild's command line options:

jhbuild --help

Reporting Bugs

If you find any bugs in JHBuild, or have feature requests (or implementations :), please file them at:


This will ensure your request is not lost.

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