Erlang plugin for asdf version manager
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Erlang plugin for asdf version manager that relies on kerl for builds.

This plugin aims to combine the best of both worlds by using kerl.

kerl's compatibility and build scripts, together with asdf's easy version switching and support for the .tool-versions file. You do not need to have kerl already installed to use this. The plugin will install it's own version of kerl automatically.


asdf plugin-add erlang


Check asdf readme for instructions on how to install & manage versions of Erlang. To specify custom options you can set environment variables just as you would when using kerl. For example, to skip the java dependency during installation use:

$ export KERL_CONFIGURE_OPTIONS="--disable-debug --without-javac"
$ asdf install erlang <version>

You can also install Erlang from git, or provide the url to a fork and build from git.

$ asdf install erlang ref:master

$ export OTP_GITHUB_URL=""
$ asdf install erlang ref:basho

See kerl for the complete list of customization options. Note that the KERL_BASE_DIR and KERL_CONFIG environment variables are set by the plugin when it runs kerl so it will not be possible to customize them.

Before asdf install

Ubuntu and Debian

These steps assume a most recent build of Debian or Ubuntu Linux (currently tested on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, "Xenial Xerus"). Note that if you are using a previous version of Linux, you may need a different version of one of the below libraries.

Install the build tools (dpkg-dev g++ gcc libc6-dev make) apt-get -y install build-essential

Automatic configure script builder (debianutils m4 perl) apt-get -y install autoconf

Needed for HiPE (native code) support, but already installed by autoconf apt-get -y install m4

Needed for terminal handling (libc-dev libncurses5 libtinfo-dev libtinfo5 ncurses-bin) apt-get -y install libncurses5-dev

For building with wxWidgets (start observer or debugger!) apt-get -y install libwxgtk3.0-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libglu1-mesa-dev libpng3

For building ssl (libssh-4 libssl-dev zlib1g-dev) apt-get -y install libssh-dev

ODBC support (libltdl3-dev odbcinst1debian2 unixodbc) apt-get -y install unixodbc-dev

For building documentation: apt-get install xsltproc fop

Arch Linux

Provides most of the needed build tools. pacman -S --needed base-devel

Needed for terminal handling pacman -S curses

For building with wxWidgets (start observer or debugger!) pacman -S glu mesa wxgtk2 libpng

For building ssl pacman -S libssh

ODBC support sudo pacman -S unixodbc


Install the build tools brew install autoconf

For building with wxWidgets (start observer or debugger!) brew install wxmac

CentOS & Fedora

These steps assume a most recent build of CentOS (currently tested on CentOS 7.5 x64 & Fedora 28 x64)

Install the build tools sudo yum groupinstall -y 'Development Tools'

Automatic configure script builder sudo yum install -y autoconf

Needed for terminal handling sudo yum install -y ncurses-devel

For building with wxWidgets (start observer or debugger!) sudo yum install -y wxGTK-devel wxBase

For building ssl sudo yum install -y openssl-devel

for jinterface sudo yum install -y java-1.8.0-openjdk-devel

ODBC support sudo yum install -y libiodbc unixODBC.x86_64 erlang-odbc.x86_64

for the documentation to be built sudo yum install -y libxslt

Getting Erlang documentation

Erlang may come with documentation included (as man pages, pdfs and html files). This allows typing erl -man mnesia to get info on mnesia module. asdf-erlang uses kerl for builds, and kerl is capable of building the docs for specified version of Erlang.

For kerl to be able to build Erlang documentation two requirements have to be met:

  1. KERL_BUILD_DOCS environment variable has to be set
  2. Additional dependencies have to be installed. For detailed list of dependencies for your OS please refer to the specific section above

Note: Environment variable has to be set before asdf install erlang <version> is executed, to take effect.

Setting the environment variable in bash

Type: export KERL_BUILD_DOCS=yes to create KERL_BUILD_DOCS environment variable and set it to true. This line could be added to your .bashrc in case you want KERL_BUILD_DOCS to be set for future (future installations of Erlang).

To remove environment variable: unset KERL_BUILD_DOCS.

Setting the environment variable in fish shell

Type: set -xg KERL_BUILD_DOCS yes to set environment variable. In case you want it to be persisted between sessions (machine reboots - for example for future installations) type set -xU KERL_BUILD_DOCS yes.

To remove environment variable type: set -e KERL_BUILD_DOCS.