Installing a toolchain

Installing a C/C++ toolchain for CloudABI is very easy, as support for CloudABI is part of Clang ≥3.7 and LLD ≥4.0. Clang automatically detects that it should act as a cross compiler when it’s invoked with a GNU target triplet in its name, meaning it is sufficient to create a symlink farm, pointing to LLVM utilities. This may be set up as follows on Debian-based systems:

apt-get install clang-5.0 lld-5.0 llvm-5.0
for target in aarch64-unknown-cloudabi armv6-unknown-cloudabi-eabihf \
              armv7-unknown-cloudabi-eabihf i686-unknown-cloudabi \
              x86_64-unknown-cloudabi; do
  for tool in ar nm objdump ranlib size; do
    ln -s ${llvmroot}/bin/llvm-${tool} ${prefix}/bin/${target}-${tool}
  ln -s ${llvmroot}/bin/clang ${prefix}/bin/${target}-cc
  ln -s ${llvmroot}/bin/clang ${prefix}/bin/${target}-c++
  ln -s ${llvmroot}/bin/lld ${prefix}/bin/${target}-ld
  ln -s ${prefix}/${target} ${llvmroot}/${target}

Do note that some systems provide packages for this, meaning you don’t have to create these symbolic links yourself. We’re still interested in having packages upstreamed for systems not listed below…

  • Arch Linux
    yaourt -S cloudabi-toolchain
  • FreeBSD
    pkg install cloudabi-toolchain
  • macOS
    brew tap nuxinl/cloudabi
    brew install cloudabi-toolchain

Installing standard libraries

Clang does not ship with any cross compiled libraries for CloudABI, meaning that you won’t be able to build applications for CloudABI yet:

$ cat example.c
#include <program.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

void program_main(const argdata_t *ad) {
$ x86_64-unknown-cloudabi-cc -o example example.c
example.c:1:10: fatal error: 'program.h' file not found
#include <program.h>
1 error generated.

Cross compiled copies of C/C++ libraries are instead provided by CloudABI Ports. After configuring your package manager to access CloudABI Ports, you can install a basic C/C++ runtime as follows:

  • Arch Linux
    pacman -S x86_64-unknown-cloudabi-cxx-runtime
  • Debian
    apt-get install x86-64-unknown-cloudabi-cxx-runtime
  • Fedora
    dnf install -y x86_64-unknown-cloudabi-cxx-runtime
  • FreeBSD
    pkg install x86_64-unknown-cloudabi-cxx-runtime
  • macOS
    brew install x86_64-unknown-cloudabi-cxx-runtime
  • NetBSD
  • openSUSE
    zypper install -y x86_64-unknown-cloudabi-cxx-runtime

In addition to the basic C/C++ runtime, there are many other libraries that are readily available. Don’t forget to browse through the list of existing packages if you want to build an application that depends other libraries. Have you ported a library to CloudABI that hasn’t been packaged yet? Be sure to package it and send us a pull request!

Tips & Tricks

It is important to keep in mind that certain features provided by most conventional operating systems are incompatible with CloudABI’s security model. For example, POSIX open() is insecure, whereas openat() without AT_FDCWD is. The latter allows for exposing only parts of the file system namespace to a CloudABI process. Networking related system calls like bind() and connect() are also insecure, as they cannot be constrained without special kernel frameworks (i.e., firewalls). Socket pairs and file descriptor passing (SCM_RIGHTS) act as a secure substitute.

With cloudlibc, we’ve explicitly made the choice to omit these incompatible features. The disadvantage is that this breaks the build of many conventional pieces of software. The advantage, however, is that if you manage to build a certain piece of code, you can be confident that it works well, even when sandboxed. Compiler errors serve as a to-do list of code that still need to be ported.

To get a good idea of which features are present and absent, it is wise to read through cloudlibc’s header files. Almost all of these header files have documentation at the top, providing a rationale for which features are implemented. It may also be useful to take a look at some of the existing packages to see how they have been patched up.