Getting Started

Mateusz Loskot edited this page Apr 11, 2018 · 6 revisions


  • A C++ compiler installed.
  • A recent release of the Git command line client installed. See Getting Started with Git for Git version requirements and information about command line clients.

If you haven't done so already, set up your git configuration:

git config --global "My Name"
git config --global my-email@whatever.domain

A Git GUI client such as TortoiseGIT may be useful for routine work, but is not required.

Choose a protocol for cloning

The Boost super-project and libraries on GitHub support cloning via HTTPS or SSH protocols. SSH is often used by developers, but HTTPS may be required by some corporate firewalls and for read-only access. To use HTTPS instead of SSH, replace in the examples below with


The Boost super-project and libraries have been set up using relative URLs, so whichever protocol you use in the git clone command will determine how subsequent access to the super-project and libraries is authenticated.

Line endings

The Boost super-project and libraries ensure correct handling of line endings regardless of platform by supplying a .gitattributes file. However, you may also want to set git config options for managing line endings:

On OS X, Linux, and other POSIX-like systems:

git config --global core.autocrlf input

On Windows:

git config --global core.autocrlf true

That sets the core.autocrlf option globally, so only needs to be done once. For more on line endings, see GitHub Dealing with line endings.

Installing Boost

The initial cloning will take at least 45 minutes on a 3.0 mbps Internet connection and will consume roughly 1.5 GB of disk space. Cloning is only done once, so this lengthy initial time is not a long-term concern.

From the command line on Windows:

git clone --recursive
cd boost
git checkout develop # or whatever branch you want to use
.\b2 headers

(Note: If you plan to build on Windows from the Cygwin bash shell or from MinGW's MSYS, you should follow the instructions for POSIX-like systems.)

On POSIX-like operating systems, with a one-time download:

git clone --recursive
cd boost
git checkout develop # or whatever branch you want to use
./b2 headers

On POSIX-like operating systems, with piecemeal downloads:

git clone # Check out only the super-project (without --recursive)
cd boost
git submodule update --init # Check out all the modules
cd libs/accumalators

NOTE: Following Boost modularization and move to Git, header files were moved to their corresponding libraries, into an include subdirectory. For example, the header files of Boost.Filesystem are now in /libs/filesystem/include. For compatibility, /boost sub-directory is now a "virtual" directory, containing links to the headers. The command b2 headers creates or recreates the contents of this /boost directory.


If you want to build the separately compiled Boost libraries, run the usual b2 command. For Windows:


For POSIX-like systems:


If b2 isn't already in your path, you might want to add it now.

Testing is done just the way it has always been done. For example,

cd libs/system/test

should run the tests for Boost.system, all of which should pass.


You might want to review the git submodule command at this point, since understanding how to work with submodules is critical to working with the modular Boost repositories.


Checking out a particular branch

The clone operation above leaves each individual library in the modular-boost local repository in a detached state that is not very useful if you want to make changes and also could result in data loss. So the first thing you want to do for a library you are going to modify is switch it to the branch you want to work on. For example, if you want to do some maintenance on the develop branch of mylib, do this:

cd modular-boost/libs/mylib
git checkout develop
git branch -vv
git pull

git branch -vv is just to reassure yourself you are tracking the remote repo. If not, you have some problem, such as a very old version git.

git pull ensures the checkout is up to date.

You are now ready to start regular maintenance! See Getting Started with Modular Boost Library Maintenance.

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