CMake

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Description

CMake is a free multi-language multi-platform compilation tool (the name stands for cross-platform make). Although Autotools is the traditional tool used on Linux - used by the GNU project among others -, various projects have changed to CMake during the last few years, for different reasons. Important examples are KDE and MySQL. Those who have already been rubbed by Autotools to construct their own project will probably find CMake a lot more easy to use. In fact, according to KDE, the main reasons for which they have changed from Autotools to CMake is that the compilation is a lot quicker and that the build files are a lot easier to write.

Basic usage

CMake works in the same way as that Autotools requires to run a configure script, followed by a build with make. However, instead of calling ./configure, you call cmake directory. For example, if you are inside the directory where you would like to build the application, you run

[name@server $] cmake .


Hence, to configure, build and install an application or a library, the simplest way to do this is

[name@server $] cmake . && make && make install


Customizing the configuration

Just like with autotools, it is possible to customize the configuration of an application or a library. This can be done by different command-line options, but also using a command line interface, using the ccmake command.

ccmake

You call ccmake in the same way as you call cmake: by giving the directory to build from. So if this is the current directory, you should call:

[name@server $] ccmake .


You should run ccmake after having ran cmake. So, generally you would do

[name@server $] cmake . && ccmake .


ccmake gives you then a list of options that are defined by the project. You will then see a relatively short list like this:

[name@server $] cmake . && cmake ..
 Page 1 of 1
 ARPACK_LIBRARIES                 ARPACK_LIBRARIES-NOTFOUND
 CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE
 CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX             /usr/local
 CMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES
 CMAKE_OSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET
 CMAKE_OSX_SYSROOT                /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Platforms/MacOSX.platform/Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.8.sdk
 GSL_CONFIG                       /opt/local/bin/gsl-config
 GSL_CONFIG_PREFER_PATH           /bin;;/bin;
 GSL_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS             -Wl,-rpath,/opt/local/lib
 NON_TEMPLATES_DISABLED           ON
 NO_SQUACK_WARNINGS               ON
 PRECOMPILED_TEMPLATES            ON
 USE_GSL_OMP                      OFF
 USE_OMP                          OFF
Press [enter] to edit option                                                                                                                                                         CMake Version 2.8.8
Press [c] to configure
Press [h] for help           Press [q] to quit without generating
Press [t] to toggle advanced mode (Currently Off)


As is written at the bottom of this display, you can edit a value by pressing the enter key. If you modify a value, you will want to press the c key to try out the configuration with this new value. If this new configuration succeeds with that new value, you will then have the option g to generate the Makefile with the new configuration, or you can quit using the q key. Lastly, you can activate advanced mode using the t key. You will then have a much longer list of variables which allows you to precisely configure the application. Here is a list of options

File : ccmake_output.txt
ARPACK_LIBRARIES                 ARPACK_LIBRARIES-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_Accelerate_LIBRARY          /System/Library/Frameworks/Accelerate.framework
 BLAS_acml_LIBRARY                BLAS_acml_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_acml_mp_LIBRARY             BLAS_acml_mp_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_complib.sgimath_LIBRARY     BLAS_complib.sgimath_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_cxml_LIBRARY                BLAS_cxml_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_dxml_LIBRARY                BLAS_dxml_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_essl_LIBRARY                BLAS_essl_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_f77blas_LIBRARY             BLAS_f77blas_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_goto2_LIBRARY               BLAS_goto2_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_scsl_LIBRARY                BLAS_scsl_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_sgemm_LIBRARY               BLAS_sgemm_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 BLAS_sunperf_LIBRARY             BLAS_sunperf_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 CMAKE_AR                         /opt/local/bin/ar
 CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE
 CMAKE_COLOR_MAKEFILE             ON
 CMAKE_CXX_COMPILER               /opt/local/bin/c++
 CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS
 CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS_DEBUG            -g
 CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS_MINSIZEREL       -Os -DNDEBUG
 CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS_RELEASE          -O3 -DNDEBUG
 CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS_RELWITHDEBINFO   -O2 -g
 CMAKE_C_COMPILER                 /opt/local/bin/gcc
 CMAKE_C_FLAGS
 CMAKE_C_FLAGS_DEBUG              -g
 CMAKE_C_FLAGS_MINSIZEREL         -Os -DNDEBUG
 CMAKE_C_FLAGS_RELEASE            -O3 -DNDEBUG
 CMAKE_C_FLAGS_RELWITHDEBINFO     -O2 -g
 CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS
 CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS_DEBUG
 CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS_MINSIZE
 CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS_RELEASE
 CMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS_RELWITH
 CMAKE_EXPORT_COMPILE_COMMANDS    OFF
 CMAKE_INSTALL_NAME_TOOL          /opt/local/bin/install_name_tool
 CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX             /usr/local
 CMAKE_LINKER                     /opt/local/bin/ld
 CMAKE_MAKE_PROGRAM               /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/usr/bin/make
 CMAKE_MODULE_LINKER_FLAGS
 CMAKE_MODULE_LINKER_FLAGS_DEBU
 CMAKE_MODULE_LINKER_FLAGS_MINS
 CMAKE_MODULE_LINKER_FLAGS_RELE
 CMAKE_MODULE_LINKER_FLAGS_RELW
 CMAKE_NM                         /opt/local/bin/nm
 CMAKE_OBJCOPY                    CMAKE_OBJCOPY-NOTFOUND
 CMAKE_OBJDUMP                    CMAKE_OBJDUMP-NOTFOUND
 CMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES
 CMAKE_OSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET
 CMAKE_OSX_SYSROOT                /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Platforms/MacOSX.platform/Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.8.sdk
 CMAKE_RANLIB                     /opt/local/bin/ranlib
 CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS
 CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS_DEBU
 CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS_MINS
 CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS_RELE
 CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS_RELW
 CMAKE_SKIP_INSTALL_RPATH         OFF
 CMAKE_SKIP_RPATH                 OFF
 CMAKE_STRIP                      /opt/local/bin/strip
 CMAKE_USE_RELATIVE_PATHS         OFF
 CMAKE_VERBOSE_MAKEFILE           OFF
 CMAKE_XCODE_SELECT               /usr/bin/xcode-select
 DOXYGEN_DOT_EXECUTABLE           /usr/local/bin/dot
 DOXYGEN_DOT_PATH                 /usr/local/bin
 DOXYGEN_EXECUTABLE               /Applications/Doxygen.app/Contents/Resources/doxygen
 GSL_CONFIG                       /opt/local/bin/gsl-config
 GSL_CONFIG_PREFER_PATH           /bin;;/bin;
 GSL_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS             -Wl,-rpath,/opt/local/lib
 GSL_INCLUDE_DIR                  /opt/local/include
 GTEST_INCLUDE_DIR                /opt/local/include
 GTEST_LIBRARY                    /opt/local/lib/libgtest.dylib
 GTEST_LIBRARY_DEBUG              GTEST_LIBRARY_DEBUG-NOTFOUND
 GTEST_MAIN_LIBRARY               /opt/local/lib/libgtest_main.dylib
 GTEST_MAIN_LIBRARY_DEBUG         GTEST_MAIN_LIBRARY_DEBUG-NOTFOUND
 LAPACK_Accelerate_LIBRARY        /System/Library/Frameworks/Accelerate.framework
 LAPACK_goto2_LIBRARY             LAPACK_goto2_LIBRARY-NOTFOUND
 NON_TEMPLATES_DISABLED           ON
 NO_SQUACK_WARNINGS               ON
 PRECOMPILED_TEMPLATES            ON
 USE_GSL_OMP                      OFF
 USE_OMP                          OFF


As you can see, ccmake in advanced mode displays equally well the libraries that were found as those that were not found. If you would like to use a specific version of BLAS for example, you will immediately know which one was found by CMake, and modify this if necessary. ccmake also displays the list of flags that are passed to the C, C++, and other compilers, to the linker, depending on the build type.

Command line options

All command line options that are displayed by ccmake can be modified on the command line, using the following syntax:

[name@server $] cmake . -DVARIABLE=VALUE


For example, to specify the install location:

[name@server $] cmake . -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/home/user/my_directory


To configure the compilation, you might want to change the following values:

Option Description
CMAKE_C_COMPILER Change the C compiler
CMAKE_CXX_COMPILER Change the C++ compiler
CMAKE_LINKER Change the linker
CMAKE_C_FLAGS Change the flags passed to the C compiler
CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS Change the flags passed to the C++ compiler
CMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS Change the flags passed to the linker

A more exhaustive list option is available on the official CMake page.

If you do not want to get into adventures with these specific options, CMake also provides a simpler option, called CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE. This option defines which compilation type must be used. Possible values are

Option Description
- No value
Debug Activate debugging options, deactivate optimization options
Release Deactivate debugging options, activate usual optimizations
MinSizeRel Deactivate debugging options, activate optimization options that minimize the binary's size
RelWithDebInfo Activate debugging options and usual optimizations

These different compilation types define compiler options that vary from compiler to compiler. So you do not need to check which exact compiler flags have to be used.

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