Feeds

Google man open sources Chrome build system

'We call it Ninja. It strikes quickly'

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Google Chrome developer Evan Martin has open sourced the custom-designed build system he uses to build the browser's Linux port.

Martin calls the system Ninja because it "strikes quickly." According to Martin's Ninja manual, he previously used a customized system based on the old GNU Make build-automation system, and while this needed 10 seconds to start building the open source Chromium browser after a file change was made, Ninja takes under a second.

When Google first decided to port Chrome beyond Windows, Martin says on his blog, the company considered using the Scons software-construction tool, but it was soon deemed to be too slow. According to Martin, Scons needed about 40 seconds before it started building.

Chrome is a single executable with about 30,000 source files.

Dropping Scons, Google began using plain old Makefiles to port the browser. And Martin was soon haunted by build times. "I [became] more and more obsessed with build performance," he says. "I once clocked our Windows build taking eight minutes to finish linking after a one-file change and I found it devastating for both my productivity and my morale."

Martin tweaked the system until he had worked incremental builds down to between 10 and 20 seconds. But this wasn't enough. "I still wasn't happy about the ten seconds of waiting between running 'make' and the first compilation step starting. It seemed to me that with a warm disk cache, it shouldn't need to think that hard," Martin says.

Eventually, Martin designed his own build system from scratch, trying to make it as fast as possible. "I thought I'd try making a very simple build system; conceptually very similar to Make, but with hardly any features," he says. And once this was up and running, he added in several tools missing from Make. And this became Ninja.

Ninja is now available from github, and the Ninja manual is here. ®

Update: This story has been updated to show that Ninja is Martin's personal project and that it is only used for the Chrome Linux port.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.