Perfetto build instructions

The source of truth for the Perfetto codebase lives in AOSP:

A read-only mirror is also available at .

Perfetto can be built both from the Android tree (AOSP) and standalone. Standalone builds are meant only for local testing and are not shipped. Due to the reduced dependencies, the standalone workflow is faster to iterate on and the suggested way to work on Perfetto, unless you are working on code that has non-NDK depedencies into Android internals. Profilers and internal HAL/AIDL dependencies will not be built in the standalone build.

If you are chromium contributor, AOSP is still the place you should send CLs to. The code inside chromium's third_party/perfetto is a direct mirror of the AOSP repo. The AOSP->Chromium autoroller takes care of keeping chromium's DEPS up to date.

Standalone builds

Get the code

git clone

Pull dependent libraries and toolchains

tools/install-build-deps [--android] [--ui] [--linux-arm]

--android will pull the Android NDK, emulator and other deps required to build for target_os = "android".

--ui will pull NodeJS and all the NPM modules required to build the Web UI. See the UI Development section below for more.

--linux-arm will pull the sysroots for cross-compiling for Linux ARM/64.

WARNING: Note that if you're using an M1 or any later ARM Mac, your Python version should be at least 3.9.1 to work around this Python Bug.

Generate the build files via GN

Perfetto uses GN as primary build system. See the Build files section below for more.

tools/gn args out/android

This will open an editor to customize the GN args. Enter:

# Set only when building for Android, omit when building for linux, mac or win. target_os = "android" target_cpu = "arm" / "arm64" / "x64" is_debug = true / false cc_wrapper = "ccache" # [Optional] speed up rebuilds with ccache.

See the Build Configurations and Building on Windows sections below for more.

TIP: If you are a chromium developer and have depot_tools installed you can avoid the tools/ prefix below and just use gn/ninja from depot_tools.

Build native C/C++ targets

# This will build all the targets. tools/ninja -C out/android # Alternatively, list targets explicitly. tools/ninja -C out/android \ traced \ # Tracing service. traced_probes \ # Ftrace interop and /proc poller. perfetto \ # Cmdline client. trace_processor_shell \ # Trace parsing. traceconv # Trace conversion. ...

Android tree builds

Follow these instructions if you are an AOSP contributor.

The source code lives in external/perfetto in the AOSP tree.

Follow the instructions on .


mmma external/perfetto # or m traced traced_probes perfetto

This will generate artifacts out/target/product/XXX/system/.

Executables and shared libraries are stripped by default by the Android build system. The unstripped artifacts are kept into out/target/product/XXX/symbols.

UI development

This command pulls the UI-related dependencies (notably, the NodeJS binary) and installs the node_modules in ui/node_modules:

tools/install-build-deps --ui

Build the UI:

# Will build into ./out/ui by default. Can be changed with --out path/ # The final bundle will be available at ./ui/out/dist/. # The build script creates a symlink from ./ui/out to $OUT_PATH/ui/. ui/build

Test your changes on a local server using:

# This will automatically build the UI. There is no need to manually run # ui/build before running ui/run-dev-server. ui/run-dev-server

Navigate to http://localhost:10000/ to see the changes.

The server supports live reloading of CSS and TS/JS contents. Whenever a ui source file is changed it, the script will automatically re-build it and show a prompt in the web page.

UI unit tests are located next to the functionality being tested, and have _unittest.ts or _jsdomtest.ts suffixes. The following command runs all unit tests:


Build files

The source of truth of our build file is in the files, which are based on GN. The Android build file (Android.bp) is autogenerated from the GN files through tools/gen_android_bp, which needs to be invoked whenever a change touches GN files or introduces new ones. Likewise, the Bazel build file (BUILD) is autogenerated through the tools/gen_bazel script.

A presubmit check checks that the Android.bp is consistent with GN files when submitting a CL through git cl upload.

The generator has a list of root targets that will be translated into the Android.bp file. If you are adding a new target, add a new entry to the default_targets variable in tools/gen_android_bp.

Supported platforms

Linux desktop (Debian Testing/Rodete)




Building on Windows

Building on Windows is possible using both the MSVC 2019 compiler (you don't need the full IDE, just the build tools) or the LLVM clang-cl compiler.

The Windows support in standalone builds has been introduced in v16 by

clang-cl support is more stable because that build configuration is actively covered by the Chromium project (Perfetto rolls into chromium and underpins chrome://tracing). The MSVC build is maintained best-effort.

The following targets are supported on Windows:

It is NOT possible to build the Perfetto UI from Windows.


You need all of these both for MSVC and clang-cl:

The script will locate the higest version numbers available from C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10 and C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019.

Pull dependent libraries and toolchains

# This will download also the LLVM clang-cl prebuilt used by chromium. python3 tools/install-build-deps

Generate build files

python3 tools/gn gen out/win

In the editor type:

is_debug = true | false is_clang = true # Will use the hermetic clang-cl toolchain. # or is_clang = false # Will use MSVC 2019.


python3 tools/ninja -C out/win perfetto traced trace_processor_shell

Cross-compiling for Linux ARM/64

When cross-compiling for Linux you will need a sysroot. You have two options:

1. Use the built-in sysroots based on Debian Sid

tools/install-build-deps --linux-arm

Then set the following GN args:

target_os = "linux" target_cpu = "arm" # or target_cpu = "arm64"

2. Use your own sysroot

In this case you need to manually specify the sysroot location and the toolchain prefix triplet to use.

target_os = "linux" target_sysroot = "/path/to/sysroot" target_triplet = "aarch64-linux-gnu" # Or any other supported triplet.

For more details see the Using cutom toolchains section below.

Build configurations

TIP: tools/ can be used to generate out/XXX folders for most of the supported configurations.

The following GN args are supported:

target_os = "android" | "linux" | "mac":

Defaults to the current host, set "android" to build for Android.

target_cpu = "arm" | "arm64" | "x64"

Defaults to "arm" when target_os == "android", "x64" when targeting the host. 32-bit host builds are not supported. Note: x64 here really means x86_64. This is to keep it consistent with Chromium's choice, which in turn follows Windows naming convention.

is_debug = true | false

Toggles Debug (default) / Release mode. This affects, among other things: (i) the -g compiler flag; (ii) setting/unsetting -DNDEBUG; (iii) turning on/off DCHECK and DLOG. Note that debug builds of Perfetto are sensibly slower than release versions. We strongly encourage using debug builds only for local development.

is_clang = true | false

Use Clang (default: true) or GCC (false). On Linux, by default it uses the self-hosted clang (see is_hermetic_clang). On Android, by default it uses clang from the NDK (in buildtools/ndk). On Mac, by default it uses the system version of clang (requires Xcode). See also the custom toolchain section below.

is_hermetic_clang = true | false

Use bundled toolchain from buildtools/ rather than system-wide one.

non_hermetic_clang_stdlib = libc++ | libstdc++

If is_hermetic_clang is false, sets the -stdlib flag for clang invocations. libstdc++ is default on Linux hosts and libc++ is default everywhere else.

cc = "gcc" / cxx = "g++"

Uses a different compiler binary (default: autodetected depending on is_clang). See also the custom toolchain section below.

cc_wrapper = "tool_name"

Prepends all build commands with a wrapper command. Using "ccache" here enables the ccache caching compiler, which can considerably speed up repeat builds.

is_asan = true

Enables Address Sanitizer

is_lsan = true

Enables Leak Sanitizer (Linux/Mac only)

is_msan = true

Enables Memory Sanitizer (Linux only)

is_tsan = true

Enables Thread Sanitizer (Linux/Mac only)

is_ubsan = true

Enables Undefined Behavior Sanitizer

Using custom toolchains and CC / CXX / CFLAGS env vars

When building Perfetto as part of some other build environment it might be necessary to switch off all the built-in toolchain-related path-guessing scripts and manually specify the path of the toolchains.

# Disable the scripts that guess the path of the toolchain. is_system_compiler = true ar = "/path/to/ar" cc = "/path/to/gcc-like-compiler" cxx = "/path/to/g++-like-compiler" linker = "" # This is passed to -fuse-ld=...

If you are using a build system that keeps the toolchain settings in environment variables, you can set:

is_system_compiler = true ar="${AR}" cc="${CC}" cxx="${CXX}"

is_system_compiler = true can be used also for cross-compilation. In case of cross-compilation, the GN variables have the following semantic: ar, cc, cxx, linker refer to the host toolchain (sometimes also called build toolchain). This toolchain is used to build: (i) auxiliary tools (e.g. the traceconv conversion util) and (ii) executable artifacts that are used during the rest of the build process for the target (e.g., the protoc compiler or the protozero_plugin protoc compiler plugin).

The cross-toolchain used to build the artifacts that run on the device is prefixed by target_: target_ar, target_cc, target_cxx, target_linker.

# Cross compilation kicks in when at least one of these three variables is set # to a value != than the host defaults. target_cpu = "x86" | "x64" | "arm" | "arm64" target_os = "linux" | "android" target_triplet = "arm-linux-gnueabi" | "x86_64-linux-gnu" | ...

When integrating with GNU Makefile cross-toolchains build environments, a typical mapping of the corresponding environment variables is:

ar="${BUILD_AR}" cc="${BUILD_CC}" cxx="${BUILD_CXX}" target_ar="${AR}" target_cc="${CC}" target_cxx="${CXX}"

It is possible to extend the set of CFLAGS and CXXFLAGS through the extra_xxxflags GN variables as follows. The extra flags are always appended (hence, take precedence) to the set of flags that the GN build files generate.

# These apply both to host and target toolchain. extra_cflags="${CFLAGS}" extra_cxxflags="${CXXFLAGS}" extra_ldflags="${LDFLAGS}" # These apply only to the host toolchain. extra_host_cflags="${BUILD_CFLAGS}" extra_host_cxxflags="${BUILD_CXXFLAGS}" extra_host_ldflags="${BUILD_LDFLAGS}" # These apply only to the target toolchain. extra_target_cflags="${CFLAGS}" extra_target_cxxflags="${CXXFLAGS} ${debug_flags}" extra_target_ldflags="${LDFLAGS}"

IDE setup

Use a following command in the checkout directory in order to generate the compilation database file:

tools/gn gen out/default --export-compile-commands

After generating, it can be used in CLion (File -> Open -> Open As Project), Visual Studio Code with C/C++ extension and any other tool and editor that supports the compilation database format.

Useful extensions

If you are using VS Code we suggest the following extensions:

Useful settings

In .vscode/settings.json:

{ "C_Cpp.clang_format_path": "${workspaceRoot}/buildtools/mac/clang-format", "C_Cpp.clang_format_sortIncludes": true, "files.exclude": { "out/*/obj": true, "out/*/gen": true, }, "clangd.arguments": [ "--compile-commands-dir=${workspaceFolder}/out/mac_debug", "--completion-style=detailed", "--header-insertion=never" ], }

Replace /mac/ with /linux64/ on Linux.

Debugging with VSCode

Edit .vscode/launch.json:

{ "version": "0.2.0", "configurations": [ { "request": "launch", "type": "cppdbg", "name": "Perfetto unittests", "program": "${workspaceRoot}/out/mac_debug/perfetto_unittests", "args": ["--gtest_filter=TracingServiceImplTest.StopTracingTriggerRingBuffer"], "cwd": "${workspaceFolder}/out/mac_debug", "MIMode": "lldb", }, ] }

Then open the command palette Meta+Shift+P -> Debug: Start debugging.