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The Waf build system is used to build ns-3. Waf is a Python-based
build system (
Note: We've added a wiki page with more complete build instructions
than the quick ones you find below:
=== Installing Waf ===
The top-level ns-3 directory should contain a current waf script, so
there is no need to have WAF installed in the system. We are using
some extensions to WAF, which can be found in the 'waf-tools'
directory. The upstream location for these WAF extensions is:
=== Building with Waf ===
To build ns-3 with waf type the commands from the top-level directory:
1. ./waf configure [options]
2. ./waf
To see valid configure options, type ./waf --help. The most important
option is -d <debug level>. Valid debug levels (which are listed in
waf --help) are: "debug" or "optimized", with debug being default. It is
also possible to change the flags used for compilation with (e.g.):
CXXFLAGS="-O3" ./waf configure. By default, ns-3 is built as debug code,
with examples and tests disabled, and with python bindings enabled.
[ Note: Unlike some other build tools, to change the build target,
the option must be supplied during the configure stage rather than
the build stage (i.e., "./waf -d optimized" will not work; instead, do
"./waf -d optimized configure; ./waf" ]
The resulting executables and libraries are placed in build/.
Other waf usages include:
1. ./waf configure --enable-examples --enable-tests
Turn on examples and tests.
2. ./waf configure --disable-python
Disable python bindings.
3. ./waf --doxygen
Run doxygen to generate documentation
4. ./waf --run "program [args]"
Run a ns3 program, given its target name, with the given
arguments. This takes care of automatically modifying the the
path for finding the ns3 dynamic libraries in the environment
before running the program. Note: the "program [args]" string is
parsed using POSIX shell rules.
4.1 ./waf --run programname --command-template "... %s ..."
Same as --run, but uses a command template with %s replaced by the
actual program (whose name is given by --run). This can be use to
run ns-3 programs with helper tools. For example, to run unit
tests with valgrind, use the command:
./waf --run run-tests --command-template "valgrind %s"
5. ./waf --shell
Starts a nested system shell with modified environment to run ns3 programs.
6. ./waf distclean
Cleans out the entire build/ directory
7. ./waf dist
The command 'waf dist' can be used to create a distribution tarball.
It includes all files in the source directory, except some particular
extensions that are blacklisted, such as back files (ending in ~).
=== Extending ns-3 ===
To add new modules:
1. Create the module directory under src;
2. Add the source files to it;
3. Add a 'wscript' describing it;
A convenience program to auto-generate the template of a new module can
be found in src/
A module's wscript file is basically a regular Waf script. A ns-3
module is created as a cpp/shlib object, like this:
def build(bld):
module = bld.create_ns3_module('ns3-mymodule', ['core'])
module.source = [
headers = bld.new_task_gen(features=['ns3header'])
headers.module = 'ns3-mymodule'
headers.source = [
# bld.ns3_python_bindings()