Electron Documentation

Build Instructions

Follow the guidelines below for building Electron.

Platform prerequisites

Check the build prerequisites for your platform before proceeding

GN prerequisites

You'll need to install depot_tools, the toolset used for fetching Chromium and its dependencies.

Also, on Windows, you'll need to set the environment variable DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN=0. To do so, open Control PanelSystem and SecuritySystemAdvanced system settings and add a system variable DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN with value 0. This tells depot_tools to use your locally installed version of Visual Studio (by default, depot_tools will try to download a Google-internal version that only Googlers have access to).

GIT_CACHE_PATH

If you plan on building Electron more than once, adding a git cache will speed up subsequent calls to gclient. To do this, set a GIT_CACHE_PATH environment variable:

$ export GIT_CACHE_PATH="${HOME}/.git_cache"
$ mkdir -p "${GIT_CACHE_PATH}"
# This will use about 16G.

sccache

Thousands of files must be compiled to build Chromium and Electron. You can avoid much of the wait by reusing Electron CI's build output via sccache. This requires some optional steps (listed below) and these two environment variables:

export SCCACHE_BUCKET="electronjs-sccache-ci"
export SCCACHE_TWO_TIER=true

Getting the code

$ mkdir electron-gn && cd electron-gn
$ gclient config --name "src/electron" --unmanaged https://github.com/electron/electron
$ gclient sync --with_branch_heads --with_tags
# This will take a while, go get a coffee.

Instead of https://github.com/electron/electron, you can use your own fork here (something like https://github.com/<username>/electron).

A note on pulling/pushing

If you intend to git pull or git push from the official electron repository in the future, you now need to update the respective folder's origin URLs.

$ cd src/electron
$ git remote remove origin
$ git remote add origin https://github.com/electron/electron
$ git checkout master
$ git branch --set-upstream-to=origin/master
$ cd -

📝 gclient works by checking a file called DEPS inside the src/electron folder for dependencies (like Chromium or Node.js). Running gclient sync -f ensures that all dependencies required to build Electron match that file.

So, in order to pull, you'd run the following commands:

$ cd src/electron
$ git pull
$ gclient sync -f

Building

$ cd src
$ export CHROMIUM_BUILDTOOLS_PATH=`pwd`/buildtools
# this next line is needed only if building with sccache
$ export GN_EXTRA_ARGS="${GN_EXTRA_ARGS} cc_wrapper=\"${PWD}/electron/external_binaries/sccache\""
$ gn gen out/Testing --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/testing.gn\") $GN_EXTRA_ARGS"

Or on Windows (without the optional argument):

$ cd src
$ set CHROMIUM_BUILDTOOLS_PATH=%cd%\buildtools
$ gn gen out/Testing --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/testing.gn\")"

This will generate a build directory out/Testing under src/ with the testing build configuration. You can replace Testing with another name, but it should be a subdirectory of out. Also you shouldn't have to run gn gen again—if you want to change the build arguments, you can run gn args out/Testing to bring up an editor.

To see the list of available build configuration options, run gn args out/Testing --list.

For generating Testing build config of Electron:

$ gn gen out/Testing --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/testing.gn\") $GN_EXTRA_ARGS"

For generating Release (aka "non-component" or "static") build config of Electron:

$ gn gen out/Release --args="import(\"//electron/build/args/release.gn\") $GN_EXTRA_ARGS"

To build, run ninja with the electron target: Nota Bene: This will also take a while and probably heat up your lap.

For the testing configuration:

$ ninja -C out/Testing electron

For the release configuration:

$ ninja -C out/Release electron

This will build all of what was previously 'libchromiumcontent' (i.e. the content/ directory of chromium and its dependencies, incl. WebKit and V8), so it will take a while.

To speed up subsequent builds, you can use sccache. Add the GN arg cc_wrapper = "sccache" by running gn args out/Testing to bring up an editor and adding a line to the end of the file.

The built executable will be under ./out/Testing:

$ ./out/Testing/Electron.app/Contents/MacOS/Electron
# or, on Windows
$ ./out/Testing/electron.exe
# or, on Linux
$ ./out/Testing/electron

Packaging

On linux, first strip the debugging and symbol information:

electron/script/strip-binaries.py -d out/Release

To package the electron build as a distributable zip file:

ninja -C out/Release electron:electron_dist_zip

Cross-compiling

To compile for a platform that isn't the same as the one you're building on, set the target_cpu and target_os GN arguments. For example, to compile an x86 target from an x64 host, specify target_cpu = "x86" in gn args.

$ gn gen out/Testing-x86 --args='... target_cpu = "x86"'

Not all combinations of source and target CPU/OS are supported by Chromium.

HostTargetStatus
Windows x64Windows arm64Experimental
Windows x64Windows x86Automatically tested
Linux x64Linux x86Automatically tested

If you test other combinations and find them to work, please update this document :)

See the GN reference for allowable values of target_os and target_cpu.

Windows on Arm (experimental)

To cross-compile for Windows on Arm, follow Chromium's guide to get the necessary dependencies, SDK and libraries, then build with ELECTRON_BUILDING_WOA=1 in your environment before running gclient sync.

set ELECTRON_BUILDING_WOA=1
gclient sync -f --with_branch_heads --with_tags

Or (if using PowerShell):

$env:ELECTRON_BUILDING_WOA=1
gclient sync -f --with_branch_heads --with_tags

Next, run gn gen as above with target_cpu="arm64".

Tests

To run the tests, you'll first need to build the test modules against the same version of Node.js that was built as part of the build process. To generate build headers for the modules to compile against, run the following under src/ directory.

$ ninja -C out/Testing third_party/electron_node:headers

You can now run the tests.

If you're debugging something, it can be helpful to pass some extra flags to the Electron binary:

$ npm run test -- \
  --enable-logging -g 'BrowserWindow module'

Sharing the git cache between multiple machines

It is possible to share the gclient git cache with other machines by exporting it as SMB share on linux, but only one process/machine can be using the cache at a time. The locks created by git-cache script will try to prevent this, but it may not work perfectly in a network.

On Windows, SMBv2 has a directory cache that will cause problems with the git cache script, so it is necessary to disable it by setting the registry key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Lanmanworkstation\Parameters\DirectoryCacheLifetime

to 0. More information: https://stackoverflow.com/a/9935126

This can be set quickly in powershell (ran as administrator):

New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Lanmanworkstation\Parameters" -Name DirectoryCacheLifetime -Value 0 -PropertyType DWORD -Force

Stale locks in the git cache

If gclient sync is interrupted while using the git cache, it will leave the cache locked. To remove the lock, pass the --break_repo_locks argument to gclient sync.

I'm being asked for a username/password for chromium-internal.googlesource.com

If you see a prompt for Username for 'https://chrome-internal.googlesource.com': when running gclient sync on Windows, it's probably because the DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN environment variable is not set to 0. Open Control PanelSystem and SecuritySystemAdvanced system settings and add a system variable DEPOT_TOOLS_WIN_TOOLCHAIN with value 0. This tells depot_tools to use your locally installed version of Visual Studio (by default, depot_tools will try to download a Google-internal version that only Googlers have access to).


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