IPFire 2.x - Build Howto

This how-to covers building IPFire from source code, creating a development environment that can be used to create new packages and make changes.

When building a development environment, you should be aware that:

  • This will require some patience and may take some time.
  • Ideally you should have a powerful PC, with an above-average amount of RAM (although this procedure will work on any modern PC).
  • You will need to dedicate a significant chunk of disk space.


You require a system with a common Linux distribution. Fedora, Ubuntu, or even IPFire itself will work.

You may have to change some minor things on your system and install several packages. There are some tips for common distributions. If your own distro is missing, feel free to add it here.

Step 1: Grabbing the source

First of all, you have to check out the source code. Read our git howto for instructions.

Next, grab the source code tarballs of every upstream package (~500MB):

./make.sh downloadsrc

Precompiled toolchain

In order to speed up compilation, you can download the first stage of the toolchain. This is recommended to do.

./make.sh gettoolchain

Step 2: Building

The build process automatically uses all available CPUs on the system to speed up the build as much as possible.

Start the build with:

./make.sh build

Easy, isn't it? But this process will now take several hours...



Known to work: IPFire 2.x

These packages will be required: pakfire install -y git make

IPFire can't build the toolchain, so you will have to use the precompiled version.
After git checkout and source download you also need to download the toolchain.

Fedora (Core) & CentOS

Known to work: Fedora Core 5, Fedora Core 6, Fedora 7-17 und Centos 5.1

These packages will be required, too:

yum install git gcc byacc make wget binutils bison patch texinfo gcc-c++ glibc-static which autoconf automake


Known to work: SuSE Linux 9.3, OpenSuSE 10.3

These packages will be required, too: git, gcc, make, patch, bzip2, bison

Install these packages with "yast".


Known to work: Debian 4.0R1, Debian 5.0, Debian 7.0, Debian 8.0

These packages will be required, too: git-core, gcc, g++, realpath, make, patch, bzip2, byacc, python-urlgrabber, bison, gawk, texinfo, autoconf, automake

Install these packages with:

apt-get install git-core gcc g++ realpath make patch bzip2 byacc python-urlgrabber bison gawk texinfo  autoconf automake

or with:

aptitude install git-core gcc g++ realpath make patch bzip2 byacc python-urlgrabber bison gawk texinfo autoconf automake


There is a Symlink "/bin/sh" that points to "/bin/dash". This will cause an error if you compile glibc. Please change "/bin/sh" to "/bin/bash".

Ubuntu 11.04 needs some additional symlinks to asm header and glibc:

ln -s /usr/include/asm-generic /usr/include/asm
ln -s /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libc.so /usr/lib/libc.so

Known to work: Ubuntu 6.06 LTS - Ubuntu 11.04

These packages will be required, too: git-core, g++, realpath, patch, byacc, make, python-urlgrabber, autoconf, automake. Install them with apt-get or aptitude.

It also makes sense to install the package ccache to speed up compilation. If you made minor changes only that code will be compiled, the rest will be taken from the ccache.

Arch Linux

Kown to work: simple i686 core installation

These packages will be required too:

pacman -S git gcc make patch urlgrabber bison gawk texinfo

First buildtime in VirtualBox(2 cores (2x2.1Ghz), 1GB Ram) ~12 hours, second buildtime just ~40 minutes.


The test machine was an Athlon XP 2000+ with 1.75 GB of RAM. Note that between the first and second build there only has been a "./make.sh clean" just to test ccache.

System 1.Build 2.Build
Fedora 8 40091s 26240s
CentOS 5.1 35261s 25123s
SuSE 10.3 34274s 16258s
Debian 4.0R1 32909s 15274s
Ubuntu 7.10 33836s 15855s

Nowadays, in 2014, build time has dropped to about 3 hours and 45 minutes, which is more than twice as fast as a little over a decade ago when the benchmarks you can see above where done on an AMD Athlon XP 2000+.

The new build time is from a laptop with an Intel Core i7 3612QM, 8GB of RAM and Linux Mint 16 x64 KDE.

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Older Revisions • August 15 at 4:50 pm • Michael Tremer