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The GNU MCU Eclipse Windows Build Tools
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The Windows Build Tools

The GNU MCU Eclipse Windows Build Tools subproject (formerly GNU ARM Eclipse Windows Build Tools) is a Windows specific package, customised for the requirements of the Eclipse CDT managed build projects. It includes a recent version of GNU make and a recent version of BusyBox, which provides a convenient implementation for sh/rm/echo.


The prerequisites are common to all binary builds. Please follow the instructions in the separate Prerequisites for building binaries page and return when ready.

Download the build scripts repo

The build script is available from GitHub and can be viewed online.

To download it, clone the gnu-mcu-eclipse/windows-build-tools Git repo, including submodules.

$ rm -rf ~/Downloads/windows-build-tools.git
$ git clone --recurse-submodules \

Check the script

The script creates a temporary build Work/build-tools folder in the user home. Although not recommended, if for any reasons you need to change this, you can redefine WORK_FOLDER_PATH variable before invoking the script.

Preload the Docker images

Docker does not require to explicitly download new images, but does this automatically at first use.

However, since the images used for this build are relatively large, it is recommended to load them explicitly before starting the build:

$ bash ~/Downloads/windows-build-tools.git/scripts/ preload-images

The result should look similar to:

$ docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
ilegeul/centos      6-xbb-v2.1          3644716694e8        2 weeks ago         2.99GB
ilegeul/centos32    6-xbb-v2.1          921d03805e50        2 weeks ago         2.91GB
hello-world         latest              f2a91732366c        2 months ago        1.85kB

Prepare release

To prepare a new release, first determine the version (like 2.10) and update the scripts/VERSION file.

Update CHANGELOG.txt

Check windows-build-tools.git/CHANGELOG.txt and add the new release.


The current platform for Windows production builds is an Ubuntu 18 LTS VirtualBox image running on a macMini with 16 GB of RAM and a fast SSD.

Before starting a multi-platform build, check if Docker is started:

$ docker info

To build both the 32/64-bits Windows use --all.

$ bash ~/Downloads/windows-build-tools.git/scripts/ --all

On macOS, to prevent entering sleep, use:

$ caffeinate bash ~/Downloads/windows-build-tools.git/scripts/ --all

Several minutes later, the output of the build script is a set of 2 files and their SHA signatures, created in the deploy folder:

$ ls -l deploy
total 7384
-rw-rw-rw-@ 1 ilg  staff  1773647 Apr  8 12:07
-rw-rw-rw-@ 1 ilg  staff      131 Apr  8 12:07
-rw-rw-rw-@ 1 ilg  staff  1992179 Apr  8 11:56
-rw-rw-rw-@ 1 ilg  staff      131 Apr  8 11:56

To copy the files from the build machine to the current development machine, open the deploy folder in a terminal and use scp:

$ scp * ilg@ilg-mbp.local:Downloads/gme-binaries/wbt

Subsequent runs

Separate platform specific builds

Instead of --all, you can use any combination of:

--win32 --win64


To remove most build files, use:

$ bash ~/Downloads/windows-build-tools.git/scripts/ clean

To also remove the repository and the output files, use:

$ bash ~/Downloads/windows-build-tools.git/scripts/ cleanall

For production builds it is recommended to completely remove the build folder.


For performance reasons, the actual build folders are internal to each Docker run, and are not persistent. This gives the best speed, but has the disadvantage that interrupted builds cannot be resumed.

For development builds, it is possible to define the build folders in the host file system, and resume an interrupted build.


For development builds, it is also possible to create everything with -g -O0 and be able to run debug sessions.

Interrupted builds

The Docker scripts run with root privileges. This is generally not a problem, since at the end of the script the output files are reassigned to the actual user.

However, for an interrupted build, this step is skipped, and files in the install folder will remain owned by root. Thus, before removing the build folder, it might be necessary to run a recursive chown.


The procedure to install GNU MCU Eclipse Windows Build Tools is relatively straight forward, expanding a .zip archive on Windows.

A portable method is to use xpm:

$ xpm install --global @gnu-mcu-eclipse/windows-build-tools

More details are available on the How to install the Windows Build Tools? page.

After install, the package should create a structure like this (only the first two depth levels are shown):

├── bin
│   ├── busybox.exe
│   ├── echo.exe
│   ├── make.exe
│   ├── mkdir.exe
│   ├── rm.exe
│   └── sh.exe
└── gnu-mcu-eclipse
    ├── CHANGELOG.txt
    ├── licenses
    ├── patches
    └── scripts

5 directories, 8 files

No other files are installed in any system folders or other locations.


The binaries are distributed as portable archives; thus they do not need to run a setup and do not require an uninstall.

More build details

The build process is split into several scripts. The build starts on the host, with, which runs several times, once for each target, in one of the two docker containers. Both scripts include several other helper scripts. The entire process is quite complex, and an attempt to explain its functionality in a few words would not be realistic. Thus, the authoritative source of details remains the source code.

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Credits to Shields IO and Somsubhra/github-release-stats.

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