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Building F*, taking the F# route

F* is written in a subset of F# that F* itself can also parse with a special flag. Although the OCaml extraction route outlined in is the preferred route, F* can also be built using the F# extraction route:

Step 1. Build F* from sources using the F# compiler (obtaining a .NET binary for F*).

Step 2. Extract the sources of F* itself to OCaml using the F* binary produced at step 1.

Step 3. Re-build F* using the OCaml compiler from the code generated at step 2 (obtaining a faster native binary for F*).

Steps 2 and 3 are documented in

Building F* from sources using the F# compiler

On Windows 7/8/10

  • Prerequisite: .NET framework 4.5

  • Prerequisite: Visual Studio 2017 and its integrated Visual F# Tools for F# 4.1

    • for instance install the free Visual Studio Community
    • The Visual F# Tools are installed automatically when you first create or open an F# project.

Easy alternative: open a Cygwin command prompt, and run make from the src directory. This will run msbuild on the Visual Studio solution file; in effect, this performs exactly what you would get by clicking the "Build" button within Visual Studio.

Read on for the more complete solution involving Visual Studio itself.

  • Run the src/VS/nuget-restore.bat script from the top-level F* directory before opening the solution for the first time. F* depends upon NuGet packages that are incompatible with Visual Studio's internal invocation of NuGet's restore feature.

    Installing 'FsLexYacc.Runtime 6.1.0'.
    Installing 'FsLexYacc 6.1.0'.
    Successfully installed 'FsLexYacc.Runtime 6.1.0'.
    Successfully installed 'FsLexYacc 6.1.0'.
    All packages listed in packages.config are already installed.
  • Using Visual Studio, open src/VS/FStar.sln and build the solution (in the menus: Build > Build Solution). Make sure to choose the 'Release' configuration. Note: the 'Debug' configuration may be the default, although it has no optimizations enabled and is not capable of bootstrapping.

Note: If Visual Studio fails to open one or more projects, the problem is likely that the NuGet package cache hasn't been restored. You must either exit Visual Studio to restore the cache (using the src/VS/nuget-restore.bat script), or restart Visual Studio after having restored the cache. Otherwise, F* may not successfully build (or correctly build).

On Linux or Mac OS X using Mono

  • Install mono (any version from to 5.14.x), fsharp (version 4.1.x, where on Linux x<=18), and msbuild (version 14.1.x-15.8.x)

  • Compile F* from sources

      $ git clone
      $ cd FStar
      $ make -C src
  • Try out binary using the instructions above.

  • Another thing you can try is bootstrapping the F* compiler:

      $ export PATH=/path/to/fstar/bin:$PATH
      $ make -C src boot

    If make boot causes a stack overflow try issuing ulimit -s unlimited in the terminal beforehand.

Note: you may want to make the PATH change permanent by adding:

export PATH=/path/to/fstar/bin:$PATH

into your ~/.bashrc.

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