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Ninja is a small build system with a focus on speed.

See the manual or doc/manual.asciidoc included in the distribution for background and more details.

Binaries for Linux, Mac and Windows are available on GitHub. Run ./ninja -h for Ninja help.

Installation is not necessary because the only required file is the resulting ninja binary. However, to enable features like Bash completion and Emacs and Vim editing modes, some files in misc/ must be copied to appropriate locations.

If you're interested in making changes to Ninja, read first.

Building Ninja itself

You can either build Ninja via the custom generator script written in Python or via CMake. For more details see the wiki.


./ --bootstrap

This will generate the ninja binary and a file you can now use to build Ninja with itself.

If you have a GoogleTest source directory, you can build the tests by passing its path with --gtest-source-dir=PATH option, or the GTEST_SOURCE_DIR environment variable, e.g.:

./ --bootstrap --gtest-source-dir=/path/to/googletest
./ninja all     # build ninja_test and other auxiliary binaries
./ninja_test`   # run the unit-test suite.

Use the CMake build below if you want to use a preinstalled binary version of the library.


cmake -Bbuild-cmake
cmake --build build-cmake

The ninja binary will now be inside the build-cmake directory (you can choose any other name you like).

To run the unit tests:


Generating documentation

Ninja Manual

You must have asciidoc and xsltproc in your PATH, then do:

ninja manual doc/manual.pdf

Which will generate doc/manual.html.

To generate the PDF version of the manual, you must have dblatext in your PATH then do:

./    # only if you didn't do it previously.
ninja doc/manual.pdf

Which will generate doc/manual.pdf.

Doxygen documentation

If you have doxygen installed, you can build documentation extracted from C++ declarations and comments to help you navigate the code. Note that Ninja is a standalone executable, not a library, so there is no public API, all details exposed here are internal.

./   # if needed
ninja doxygen

Then open doc/doxygen/html/index.html in a browser to look at it.