Perfetto build instructions

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

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: See


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" # Only when building for Android 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

To build the UI (remember to run tools/install-build-deps --ui first):

$ tools/ninja -C out/android ui

Test your changes on a local server using:

$ ui/run-dev-server out/android

Navigate to 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/android -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 whitelist 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 inside tools/gen_android_bp.

Supported platforms

Linux desktop (Debian Rodete):



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" | "x86" | "x64": Defaults to "arm" when target_os == "android", "x64" when targeting the host. 32-bit host builds are not supported.

is_debug = true | false: Toggles Debug (default) / Release mode.

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).

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).

cc_wrapper = "tool": 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