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 they are faster to iterate on and the suggested way to work on Perfetto.

Get the code

Standalone checkout:

git clone

Android tree:

Perfetto lives in external/perfetto in the AOSP tree.


Standalone checkout:

All dependent libraries are self-hosted and pulled through:

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

Android tree:



Standalone checkout:

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.

$ tools/gn args out/android to generate build files and enter in the editor:

target_os = "android" # Only when building for Android target_cpu = "arm" / "arm64" / "x64" is_debug = true / false cc_wrapper = "ccache" # Optionally speed repeated builds with ccache

(See the Build Configurations section below for more)

tools/ninja -C out/android

Android tree

mmma external/perfetto or m perfetto traced traced_probes

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:

gn args out/default # The only relevant arg is is_debug=true|false # This will generate the static content for serving the UI in out/default/ui/. tools/ninja -C out/default ui

Test your changes on a local server using:

ui/run-dev-server out/default

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

IDE setup

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

tools/ninja -C out/default -t compdb cc cxx > compile_commands.json

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.

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.

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 Rodete)




Windows builds are not currently supported when using the standalone checkout and GN. Windows is supported only for a subset of the targets (mainly trace_processor and the in-process version of the Tracing SDK) in two ways: (1) when building through Bazel; (2) when building as part of Chromium.

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.

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}"