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`1.10.2-alpha1` is quite old at this point.
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@BrunoBonacci @phronmophobic @lsh-0 @The-Alchemist

How to build a native binary for your Clojure projects with GraalVM

This guide shows the steps required to build native binaries out of your Clojure projects using GraalVM.

Step1 - Download and install GraalVM

Go to and download the binaries for your platform.

Unpack the package in a folder and add it to the path:

$ export GRAALVM_HOME=/full/path/to/graalvm
$ java -version
openjdk version "11.0.7" 2020-04-14
OpenJDK Runtime Environment GraalVM CE 20.1.0 (build 11.0.7+10-jvmci-20.1-b02)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM GraalVM CE 20.1.0 (build 11.0.7+10-jvmci-20.1-b02, mixed mode, sharing)

Now install the native-image component:

$ gu install native-image
Downloading: Component catalog from
Processing Component: Native Image
Downloading: Component native-image: Native Image  from
Installing new component: Native Image (org.graalvm.native-image, version 20.1.0)

$ gu list
ComponentId              Version             Component name      Origin
graalvm                  20.1.0              GraalVM Core
native-image             20.1.0              Native Image

NOTE: if you are on Mac OSX you might need to de-quarantine the binaries. Here a script to do so:

# for Mac OSX
sudo xattr -r -d ${GRAALVM_HOME}

Step2 - Your project

Create a project:

$ lein new hello-world
Generating a project called hello-world based on the 'default' template.
The default template is intended for library projects, not applications.
To see other templates (app, plugin, etc), try `lein help new`.

$ cd hello-world/

Update the project.clj and add the :main

(defproject hello-world "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"
  :description "FIXME: write description"
  :url ""
  :license {:name "EPL-2.0 OR GPL-2.0-or-later WITH Classpath-exception-2.0"
            :url ""}
  ;; clojure version "1.10.2-alpha1" includes fixes for some graalvm specific issues
  ;; see
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.10.3"]]
  ;; add the main namespace
  :main hello-world.core

  ;; add AOT compilation
  :profiles {:uberjar {:aot :all}}

Add a -main function in your hello-world.core namespace

(ns hello-world.core

(defn -main
  [& args]
  (println "Hello, World!"))

Test it!

$ lein run
Hello, World!

Step3 - build the native binary

Now build a uberjar.

$ lein do clean, uberjar
Compiling hello-world.core
Created /private/tmp/hello-world/target/hello-world-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
Created /private/tmp/hello-world/target/hello-world-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar

Now that you have a -standalone.jar file which contains all the classes of your projects and all the dependencies all in one jar, you can proceed to build the native binary.

NOTE: If you are running with a earlier version than GraalVM v19.0.0 you don't need the flag --initialize-at-build-time.

native-image --report-unsupported-elements-at-runtime \
             --initialize-at-build-time \
             --no-server \
             -jar ./target/hello-world-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar \

[./target/hello-world:33840]    classlist:   3,119.60 ms,  0.96 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]        (cap):   2,250.97 ms,  0.96 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]        setup:   3,980.23 ms,  0.96 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]     (clinit):     163.43 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]   (typeflow):   6,249.38 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]    (objects):   4,975.02 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]   (features):     202.49 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]     analysis:  11,819.61 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]     universe:     341.69 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]      (parse):   1,850.44 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]     (inline):   2,497.03 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]    (compile):  12,415.94 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]      compile:  17,341.60 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]        image:   1,197.96 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]        write:     643.75 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33840]      [total]:  38,716.97 ms,  2.35 GB

That's it! now you can test your native binary!

$ ./target/hello-world
Hello, World!

Check the speed difference!

$ time java -jar ./target/hello-world-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar
Hello, World!

real    0m1.008s
user    0m1.795s
sys     0m0.190s

$ time ./target/hello-world
Hello, World!

real    0m0.010s
user    0m0.004s
sys     0m0.004s

A final touch

If you don't want to remember the command line to build the native binary you can always add it to the project.clj as follow:

Add the lein-shell plugin to the project.clj

  :profiles {:uberjar {:aot :all}
             :dev {:plugins [[lein-shell "0.5.0"]]}}

Now you can add an alias for it the `project.clj itself:

    "native-image" "--report-unsupported-elements-at-runtime"
    "--initialize-at-build-time" "--no-server"
    "-jar" "./target/${:uberjar-name:-${:name}-${:version}-standalone.jar}"

Overall your project.clj should look like as follow:

(defproject hello-world "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"
  :description "FIXME: write description"
  :url ""
  :license {:name "EPL-2.0 OR GPL-2.0-or-later WITH Classpath-exception-2.0"
            :url ""}
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.9.0"]]
  :main hello-world.core
  :profiles {:uberjar {:aot :all}
             :dev {:plugins [[lein-shell "0.5.0"]]}}

    "native-image" "--report-unsupported-elements-at-runtime"
    "--initialize-at-build-time" "--no-server"
    "-jar" "./target/${:uberjar-name:-${:name}-${:version}-standalone.jar}"

With this in place you can just run lein native to build the native binary:

$ lein native
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM warning: forcing TieredStopAtLevel to full optimization because JVMCI is enabled
[./target/hello-world:33980]    classlist:   2,970.75 ms,  0.96 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]        (cap):   2,824.32 ms,  0.96 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]        setup:   4,532.29 ms,  0.96 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]     (clinit):     180.49 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]   (typeflow):   6,960.70 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]    (objects):   4,050.59 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]   (features):     267.73 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]     analysis:  11,822.33 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]     universe:     322.57 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]      (parse):   1,758.44 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]     (inline):   2,497.64 ms,  1.72 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]    (compile):  12,186.63 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]      compile:  17,039.18 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]        image:   1,252.06 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]        write:     430.08 ms,  2.35 GB
[./target/hello-world:33980]      [total]:  38,668.99 ms,  2.35 GB

$ ./target/hello-world
Hello, World!

Happy hacking!