Alexunder Hacking Blog Technology Notes

How to build Firefox on Windows

2017-08-14

Recently, I needed to build the firefox browser from the source. I followed the officail tutorials from Building Firefox for Windows, but it’s partly userful. There are other problems that not mentioned in the tutoial will block your building, so I wrote this note to fill holes. By the way, the majority of the offical sites will not be repeated here, I just outline some important points, and I strongly suggest you read it firstly.

The Essential prerequisites

From the offical tutorial, we know that there are three software packages required for building Firefox:

  1. Visual Studio 2017 or Visual Studio 2015, I strongly recommend the 2017’s.
  2. The Rust package from Rust .
  3. MozillaBuild.

With these software installed, the rest part of the offical site is very simple:

  • Prepare the source directory:
cd c:/
mkdir mozilla-source
cd mozilla-source
  • Fetch the source code:
hg clone https://hg.mozilla.org/mozilla-central
  • Build the source
mach build
  • Run the build
mach run

You think your will build the whole source so easy? No, there are many obstacles you will meet.

Killing Monsters

Now we will kill monsters which stop us fucking the Firefox:

Before Building

Before running “mach build”, runing “mach bootstrap” is very helpful to initiate the build envirnment. But after running “bootstrap”, we need to make choice like below:

$ mach bootstrap
mach bootstrap is not fully implemented in MozillaBuild

Please choose the version of Firefox you want to build:
1. Firefox for Desktop Artifact Mode
2. Firefox for Desktop
3. Firefox for Android Artifact Mode
4. Firefox for Android

After my own tries, the option 2 is better, what is the root cause I still don’t investigate. Then follow prompts, you could choose yes or no, whatever.

During the process of building

After running “mach build”, the checking routine will be launched firstly. The most important thing is that llvm-config is required, and the Windows binaries from LLVM offical site don’t contain llvm-config! We must build for ourselves. The fucking tutorial don’t mention this at all! And the version of LLVM source must be above 3.9.0, I have built the llvm and clang 4.0 successully, they are at here . The following section will show some tips on how to build llvm besides the offical doc, someone don’t have interests on can skip.

How to build llvm and clang on Windows 64 bits

Besides the tutorial from http://clang.llvm.org/get_started.html, I must use Cygwin64bit as the command interface and run

 cmake -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" -t host=x64 ..

This command will generate the vs’s project file correctly!

Set the llvm binary path to .bash_profile

Because the mozila build system uses unix-like terminal(MING32) to build on Windows, Setting path in .bash_profile under the user’s diretory will work:

PATH=$PATH:c/llvm/Release/bin

Final

Something more need to be investigated:

  1. Making acquaintance with the source code, it’s a huge project like OS, therefore researching the source code will be a long journy.
  2. How to make the Windows install package from the source, I have known the package is constructed by nsis language, but no tutorials mention how to make the installer.
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