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JHBuild is a tool designed to ease building collections of source packages, called “modules”.

JHBuild was originally written for building GNOME, but has since been extended to be usable with other projects.

JHBuild requires Python >= 3.7

Installing JHBuild

Refer to the 'Getting Started' section of the JHBuild manual:

Or refer to the online JHBuild manual at:

An introduction to JHBuild is also available on the GNOME Wiki:

Using JHBuild

JHBuild uses a command line syntax similar to tools like CVS:

jhbuild [global-options] command [command-arguments]

The global JHBuild options are:

-f, --file config

Use an alternative configuration file instead of the default ~/.config/jhbuildrc.

-m, --moduleset moduleset

Use a module set other than the module set listed in the configuration file. This option can be a relative path if the module set is located in the JHBuild moduleset folder, or an absolute path if located elsewhere.


Do not prompt the user for any input. This option is useful if leaving a build unattended, in order to ensure the build is not interrupted.

Refer to the JHBuild manual for a complete list of JHBuild commands and options. The common ones are:

jhbuild bootstrap

The bootstrap command installs a set of build utilities. The build utilities include autoconf , automake and similar utilities. The recommended method to install the build utilities is via your distribution's package management system. The bootstrap should only be used if the build utilites are not provided by your distribution's package management system, for example on Mac OS.

jhbuild build [--autogen] [--clean] [--dist] [--distcheck] [--ignore-suggests] [--no-network] [--skip=module...] [--start-at=module] [--tags=tags] [-D date] [--no-xvfb] [--try-checkout] [--no-poison] [--force] [--build-optional-modules] [--min-age=time] [module...]

The build command builds one or more packages, including their dependencies.

If no module names are provided on the command line, the modules list from the configuration file will be used.

-a, --autogen

Always run before building modules. By default, will only be called if the top-level makefile is missing. Otherwise, JHBuild relies on the package's makefiles to detect if configure needs to be rebuilt or rerun.

-c, --clean

Run make clean before building modules.

-d, --dist

Run make dist after building modules.


Run make distcheck after building modules.


Do not build soft dependencies.

-n, --no-network

Do not access the network when building modules. This will skip download or update stages in a build. If a module can't be built without network access, the module build will fail.

-s, --skip=<module,...>

Do not build the listed modules. Used to skip the building of specified dependencies.


Ignore modules that do not match tag. Modules are automatically attributed a tag matching the name of the module's module set.

-t, --start-at=module

Start at the named module rather than at the beginning of the list. This option is useful if the build was interrupted.

-D date

If supported by the underlying version control system, update the source tree to the specified date before building. An ISO date format is required, e.g. "2009-09-18 02:32Z".

-x, --no-xvfb

Run graphical tests on the actual X server rather than in a simulated Xvfb.

-C, --try-checkout

If the build fails, and if supported by the version control system, force a checkout and run before retrying the build.

-N, --no-poison

If one or more of a module's dependencies failed, this option forces JHBuild to try to build the module anyway.

-f, --force

Build the modules even if policy states it is not required.


Modules listed as optional dependencies, may not be required to build the module. This option forces JHBuild to build optional dependencies.


Skip modules installed more recently than the specified relative time. The time string format is a number followed by a unit. The following units are supported: seconds (s), minutes (m), hours (h) and days (d). For example, --min-age=2h will skip modules built less than two hours ago.

jhbuild buildone [--autogen] [--clean] [--distcheck] [--no-network] [-D date] [--no-xvfb] [--force] [--min-age=time] module...

The buildone command is similar to build, but it does not build the dependent modules. It is useful for rebuilding one or more modules.

jhbuild sanitycheck

The sanitycheck command performs a number of checks to verify the build environment is okay.

For details of all jbhuild's command line options:

jhbuild --help

Reporting Bugs

If you find any bugs in JHBuild, or have feature requests (or implementations :), please file them at:

This will ensure your request is not lost.