I found the default static library configuration of clang slow to rebuild, so I started building it with in shared mode. That loaded pretty slow in gdb, so I went looking for how to enable split dwarf, and found a nice little presentation on how to speed up clang builds.

There’s a followup blog post with some speed up conclusions.

A failure of that blog post is actually listing the cmake commands required to build with all these tricks. Using all these tricks listed there, I’m now trying the following:

mkdir -p ~/freeware
cd ~/freeware

git clone git://sourceware.org/git/binutils-gdb.git
cd binutils-gdb
./configure --prefix=$HOME/local/binutils.gold --enable-gold=default
make install

cd ..
git clone git://github.com/ninja-build/ninja.git 
cd ninja
./configure.py --bootstrap
mkdir -p ~/local/ninja/bin/
cp ninja ~/local/ninja/bin/

With ninja in my PATH, I can now build clang with:

CC=clang CXX=clang++ \
cmake -G Ninja \
../llvm \
-DCMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS="-B$HOME/local/binutils.gold/bin -Wl,--gdb-index' \
-DCMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS="-B$HOME/local/binutils.gold/bin -Wl,--gdb-index' \
2>&1 | tee o


ninja install

This does build way faster, both for full builds and incremental builds.

Build tree size

Dynamic libraries: 4.4 Gb. Static libraries: 19.8Gb.

Installed size

Dynamic libraries: 0.7 Gb. Static libraries: 14.7Gb.

Results: full build time.

Static libraries, non-ninja, all backends:

real    51m6.494s
user    160m47.027s
sys     8m49.429s

Dynamic libraries, ninja, split dwarf, x86 backend only:

real    26m19.360s
user    86m11.477s
sys     3m14.478s

Results: incremental build. touch lib/Target/X86/MCTargetDesc/X86MCCodeEmitter.cpp.

Static libraries, non-ninja, all backends:

real    2m17.709s
user    6m8.648s
sys     0m28.594s

Dynamic libraries, ninja, split dwarf, x86 backend only:

real    0m3.245s
user    0m6.104s
sys     0m0.802s

make install times


real    2m6.353s
user    0m7.827s
sys     0m15.316s


real    0m2.138s
user    0m0.420s
sys     0m0.831s

The time for rerunning a sharedlib-config ‘ninja install’ is even faster!

Results: time for gdb, b main, run, quit

Static libraries:

real    0m45.904s
user    0m32.376s
sys     0m1.787s

Dynamic libraries, with split dwarf:

real    0m44.440s
user    0m37.096s
sys     0m1.067s

This one isn’t what I would have expected. The initial gdb load time for the split-dwarf exe is almost instantaneous, however it still takes a long time to break in main and continue to that point. I guess that we are taking the hit for a lot of symbol lookup at that point, so it comes out as a wash.

Thinking about this, I noticed that the clang make system doesn’t seem to add ‘-Wl,-gdb-index’ to the link step along with the addition of -gsplit-dwarf to the compilation command line. I thought that was required to get all the deferred symbol table lookup?

Attempting to do so, I found that the insertion of an alternate linker in my PATH wasn’t enough to get clang to use it. Adding –Wl,–gdb-index into the link flags caused complaints from /usr/bin/ld! The cmake magic required was:

-DCMAKE_SHARED_LINKER_FLAGS="-B$HOME/local/binutils.gold/bin -Wl,--gdb-index' \
-DCMAKE_EXE_LINKER_FLAGS="-B$HOME/local/binutils.gold/bin -Wl,--gdb-index' \

This is in the first cmake invocation flags above, but wasn’t used for my initial 45s gdb+clang time measurements. With –gdb-index, the time for the gdb b-main, run, quit sequence is now reduced to:

real    0m10.268s
user    0m3.623s
sys     0m0.429s

A 4x reduction, which is quite nice!