GNAT Compilation Notes

March 4th, 2019 by Diana Coman

Ada is *the* republican programming language1 and GNAT is its compiler but the compiler of GNAT itself is... another GNAT! While this would mean at first glance a self-contained environment and the end of headaches once GNAT + Ada are fully digested, the recent surprises with GNAT's default disdain for the Ada standard show that some parts are likely to be simply indigestible. Such parts - ZCX run-time especially - will probably end up at least sidelined if not directly and explicitly discarded by an emerging republican standard. Still, as part of investigating those unwanted surprises and especially the actual differences between ZCX and SJLJ, I gained a lot more experience with compiling GNAT itself in all sorts of configurations and on various environments. And since I promised to publish my GNAT compilation notes, it makes sense to publish at least the complete summary to have it in one place for my own future reference2.

GNAT Versions

  • The initial GNAT that made it into TMSR and served so far rather well is Adacore's 2016 GNAT GPL, mirrored previously as part of my work on EuCrypt. The mirrored version is compiled with both ZCX and SJLJ run-times, allowing one to easily switch between them with a simple flag, namely: --RTS=sjlj given to gprbuild3. ZCX is the default so compiling without the --RTS flag simply means that ZCX is used.
  • Ave1's GNAT version 2018-01-17: this uses Adacore's 2016 GNAT only to bootstrap the compilation of a republican GNAT linked against the MUSL C library. Note that the shitgnomes have already messed up some of the links in the scripts there - according to my notes the current scripts fail with a "not found" error at fetchextract gcc-4.9.adacore2016 .tar.bz2 . Obviously, the pill to this is to have everything already downloaded and only then run the script (i.e. no fetch, only extract).
  • Ave1's GNAT version 2018-04-30 adding support for ARM architectures.
  • Ave1's GNAT version 2018-05-15 adding parallel build support that effectively cuts significantly the time required for the full build4
  • Ave1's GNAT version 2018-05-29 moving towards supporting only static linking (but not quite there yet, see next version).
  • Ave1's GNAT version 2018-06-01 ditching dynamic linking and therefore building only statically linked programs.
  • Ave1's GNAT version 2018-09-24 fixing an issue with a hard-coded path.

As it can be easily seen above, there are essentially only three main versions: the original Adacore GNAT (glibc-based), Ave1's musl-based GNAT supporting dynamic+static builds (i.e. version 2018-05-15) and Ave1's musl-based GNAT supporting only static builds (i.e. latest version, 2018-09-24). Ideally one would be able to ditch dynamic linking entirely and simply work only with Ave1's latest version but so far I still have on my hands all sorts of code that is far from ideal.

Compilation Options

  • To make use of your computer's cores and speed up the build time: export MAKEOPTS="-j8" (obviously, adjust the value depending on your number of cores).
  • To build effectively offline5: download all the needed tarballs and unpack into the tarballs directory. Since I did this, I went one step further and also simply deleted the scripts download-adacore*.sh as well as their calls from the build-*.sh scripts but this is entirely up to you of course. NOTE: currently the 2018-09-24 seems to have a problem with all the tarballs already in place - my latest run failed complaining that the bin dir doesn't exist inside the created bootstrap, specifically: ../../extra/../ line 148: cd: /home/eu-test/adabuilds/build510/bootstrap/bin: No such file or directory. This requires deeper digging and Ave1 will perhaps help me out through the maze of scripts in there.
  • To build with SJLJ run-time (NOTE: you'll obtain ONLY SJLJ so no switching with --RTS):
    1. Add to the following 2 lines:


    2. Change the setting of ZCX_BY_DEFAULT from "True" to "False". Ideally this would be changed via a Makefile but so far I wasn't able to find the Makefile that actually works for this. So I hacked it for now: unpack the gcc-4.9.adacore2016.tar.bz2 archive from tarballs/ ; the files of interest are in gcc-4.9.adacore2016/gcc/ada namely system-linux-* (one for each architecture - I modified all of them): change in those ZCX_BY_DEFAULT to False; pack the tar.bz2 archive back (e.g. tar -cjvSf gcc-4.9.adacore2016.tar.bz2 gcc-4.9.adacore2016); run the ./ script and that's it.

So far I was able to compile the following:

  • 2018-09-24 (aka latest, static ONLY): ZCX version using existing Adacore's GNAT; ZCX version using previously compiled 2018-09-24 ZCX version (i.e. itself!)
  • 2018-05-15 (aka older, supporting both dynamic and static linking): SJLJ and ZCX versions using existing Adacore's GNAT; SJLJ and ZCX versions using previously compiled 2018-05-15 on same machine (i.e. without running into the paths issue).

  1. For a summary of "why Ada", read Mocky's Log Reference on it. 

  2. Or so I hope - that in the future the reference will save me from gaining even *more* experience of the same sort that I gained here. Ever the optimist that I am, I know. 

  3. gprbuild --RTS=sjlj 

  4. I could build GNAT in a bit over 1 hour on 8 cores. 

  5. I recommend this for at least 3 reasons: you know what you are building with, since you put those tarballs there - hopefully you checked them; you avoid any trouble with broken links and similar shitgnommeries; it's faster. 

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5 Responses to “GNAT Compilation Notes”

  1. [...] There has been much forum discussion surrounding the musltronic GNAT. Likewise, there are a whole number of blog posts by various TMSR Lords, including, ave1, and bvt. However, for this first attempt at building, I used these notes as my main source of help. * asciilifeform's very useful comments in the forum - steps begin here. * diana_coman's GNAT Compilation Notes. [...]

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  3. [...] into the publications of the now disbanded Republic and asking around, I found a series of recipes, notes, more notes, and a partial collection of dependencies, but little assurance that I'd obtained all [...]

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