Build LDC for Android

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Revision as of 11:43, 4 November 2015 by Joakim (talk | contribs) (Build simple program and tests for command-line)
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This page will show you how to build a ldc cross-compiler for Android/ARM on linux, along with how to build and run both the druntime/phobos tests and an Android D app using the cross-compiler.

Almost all the druntime/phobos unit tests pass on Android/ARM. One of the native OpenGL sample apps from the Android NDK has been ported to D, I'll port some more soon. Remaining work to be done is listed last.

You can also try out dmd for Android/x86.


  • linux host, where you'll build and run ldc
    • You can use a virtual machine like VirtualBox/VMware, with at least 512 MB of memory and 1 GB of swap, particularly if building the phobos unit tests, and 10 GB of disk space.
  • C++ compiler and toolchain, to build ldc
  • Common development tools, such as CMake and git, and ldc uses libconfig++
  • ldc/druntime/phobos source
    • Get the source using git, as these Android patches have only been tested on the master branch of each repo.
  • llvm 3.6 source, either from the official release or git
    • llvm 3.7 or later will work too, but you'll have to update the small llvm patch so it still applies.
  • Android native toolchain, the NDK and optionally the SDK
    • The SDK is only necessary if you want to package a GUI app; the NDK is enough if you just want to build a command-line binary, such as a test runner. If you get the SDK, all that's needed is the "SDK Tools only" version, as long as you don't plan on using their IDE integration. I will only write about using the command-line tools. The SDK requires JDK 7: follow their instructions to make sure it's installed right.
  • Android/ARM, whether a device or emulator
    • The SDK comes with an emulator. I've only used actual hardware, so that's what I'll discuss.

Build llvm

Get the source for llvm, either the last official 3.6.2 release or a git repository like the official Android llvm, which has some modifications but shouldn't really change much. Download the patch for llvm, apply it, and then build llvm normally with the ARM target:

curl -O
tar xvf llvm-3.6.2.src.tar.xz
cd llvm-3.6.2.src
curl -O
git apply android_tls

mkdir build
cd build
make -j5

Build ldc for Android/ARM

Clone the ldc repository, check out the same commits that I built ldc/druntime/phobos with, apply the Android patch, set the NDK environment variable to your NDK directory, and build ldc as usual:

cd ../..
git clone --recursive
cd ldc
git checkout -b android c769251cc
git submodule update
curl -O
git apply ldc_android_arm

mkdir build
cd build
export NDK=/path/to/your/android-ndk-r10e
cmake .. -DLLVM_CONFIG=../../llvm-3.6.2.src/build/bin/llvm-config
make ldc2 -j5

Download and apply the patch for druntime and the patch for phobos before building them:

cd ../runtime/druntime
curl -O
git apply druntime_ldc_arm

cd ../phobos
curl -O
git apply phobos_ldc_arm

cd ../../build
make druntime-ldc phobos2-ldc -j5

Build a command-line executable

Now that we have a D cross-compiler and cross-compiled the standard library for Android/ARM, let's try building a small program, the classic Sieve of Eratosthenes single-core benchmark:

./bin/ldc2 -mtriple=armv7-none-linux-androideabi -relocation-model=pic
           -c ../tests/d2/dmd-testsuite/runnable/sieve.d

$NDK/toolchains/llvm-3.6/prebuilt/linux-x86/bin/clang -Wl,-z,nocopyreloc
--sysroot=$NDK/platforms/android-9/arch-arm -lgcc
-gcc-toolchain $NDK/toolchains/arm-linux-androideabi-4.8/prebuilt/linux-x86
-target armv7-none-linux-androideabi -no-canonical-prefixes -fuse-ld=bfd
-Wl,--fix-cortex-a8 -Wl,--no-undefined -Wl,-z,noexecstack -Wl,-z,relro
-Wl,-z,now -mthumb -Wl,--export-dynamic -lc -lm sieve.o lib/libphobos2-ldc.a
lib/libdruntime-ldc.a -o sieve

The compiler and linker flags were taken from the output from running the NDK samples' build scripts in verbose mode.

Now we run this program on an Android device or emulator. I've only run on an actual Android device, either in a terminal app or by setting up an SSH server app. Once you have either of those apps installed, copy the sieve program to the device, go to the app's local directory by typing 'cd' at its command-line, copy the program there, and run it:

cp /sdcard/sieve .
./sieve foobar

The program requires an argument, which is ignored. If it runs correctly, you'll see the following output, saying it ran 10 times and found 1899 primes in the first 8191 integers:

10 iterations
1899 primes

Run the druntime and phobos unit tests

Go back to the linux host and build the tests for druntime and phobos (don't add the -j5 flag to build in parallel unless you have GBs of memory available, as compiling some of the phobos modules' tests takes a fair amount of RAM):

make test-runner

Copy the test-runner and this list of druntime and phobos modules to your device and run it. I use the SSH server app on a random port, here's what I'd do (replace with the IP address of your device and 20345 with the port you configured for the SSH service):

scp -P 20345 test.list runtime/test-runner jo@
ssh -p20345 jo@

It takes about 40 seconds to run on my dual Cortex-A15 device and all tests pass. A handful of tests across six modules were disabled, either because they fail or, in the case of rt.lifetime, pass but cause problems for subsequent tests. One module, core.sync.semaphore, is not included in the list of modules, because sem_destroy works differently in bionic and triggers a segfault on the next GC run after that module's tests pass.

Build a sample OpenGL Android app ported to D

Coming up next...