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Customizing liboqs

Michael Baentsch edited this page Aug 23, 2022 · 19 revisions

The following options can be passed to CMake before the build file generation process to customize the way liboqs is built. The syntax for doing so is: cmake .. [ARGS] [-D<OPTION_NAME>=<OPTION_VALUE>]..., where <OPTON_NAME> is:


Can be set to ON or OFF. When ON, liboqs is built as a shared library. It is OFF by default, which means liboqs is built as a static library by default.


Can be set to the following values:

  • Debug: This turns off all compiler optimizations and produces debugging information. When the compiler is Clang, the USE_SANITIZER option can also be specified to enable a Clang sanitizer. This value only has effect when the compiler is GCC or Clang

  • Release: This compiles code at the O3 optimization level, and sets other compiler flags that reduce the size of the binary.


See the CMake documentation.


This can be set to ON or OFF, and is ON by default. When OFF, <ALG> and its code are excluded from the build process. When ON, made available are additional options whereby individual variants of <ALG> can be excluded from the build process.

For example: if OQS_ENABLE_KEM_BIKE is set to ON, the options OQS_ENABLE_KEM_bike1_l1_cpa, OQS_ENABLE_KEM_bike1_l1_fo, OQS_ENABLE_KEM_bike1_l3_cpa, OQS_ENABLE_KEM_bike1_l3_fo are made available (and are set to be ON by default).

For a full list of such options and their default values, consult .CMake/alg_support.cmake.


Can be ON or OFF. When ON, only liboqs is built, and all the targets: run_tests, gen_docs, and prettyprint are excluded from the build system.


If set, this defines a semicolon deliminated list of algorithms to be contained in a minimal build of liboqs: Only algorithms explicitly set here are included in a build: For example running cmake -DOQS_MINIMAL_BUILD="OQS_ENABLE_KEM_kyber_768;OQS_ENABLE_SIG_dilithium_3" .. will build a minimum-size liboqs library only containing support for Kyber768 and Dilithium3.

The full list of identifiers that can set are listed here for KEM algorithms and here for Signature algorithms. Default setting is empty, thus including all supported algorithms in the build.


Can be ON or OFF. When ON, build liboqs for distribution. When OFF, build liboqs for use on a single machine.

The library is always built for a particular architecture, either x86-64, ARM32v7, or ARM64v8, depending on the setting of CMAKE_SYSTEM_PROCESSOR. But liboqs contains code that is optimized for micro-architectures as well, e.g. x86-64 with the AVX2 extension.

When built for distribution, the library will run on any CPU of the target architecture. Function calls will be dispatched to micro-architecture optimized routines at run-time using CPU feature detection.

When built for use on a single machine, the library will only include the best available code for the target micro-architecture (see OQS_OPT_TARGET).


This can be set to ON or OFF. When ON, the additional options OQS_USE_AES_OPENSSL, OQS_USE_SHA2_OPENSSL, and OQS_USE_SHA3_OPENSSL are made available to control whether liboqs uses OpenSSL's AES, SHA-2, and SHA-3 implementations. By default, OQS_USE_AES_OPENSSL and OQS_USE_SHA2_OPENSSL are ON while OQS_USE_SHA3_OPENSSL is OFF.

When OQS_USE_OPENSSL is ON, CMake also scans the filesystem to find the minimum version of OpenSSL required by liboqs (which happens to be 1.1.1). The OPENSSL_ROOT_DIR option can be set to aid CMake in its search.

Setting this option to OFF is also recommended when liboqs is intended for use within OQS-OpenSSL(1.1.1) on a system with a default OpenSSLv3 installation: Otherwise, the reference to libcrypto cannot be done correctly: If built with OQS_USE_OPENSSL=ON liboqs would depend in such environment on libcrypto3 while oqs-openssl would create libcrypto1.1. In such environment, the use of oqs-provider should be considered.


An optimization target. Only has an effect if the compiler is GCC or Clang and OQS_DIST_BUILD=OFF. Can take any valid input to the -march (on x86_64) or -mcpu (on ARM32v7 or ARM64v8) option for CMAKE_C_COMPILER. Can also be set to one of the following special values.

  • auto: Use -march=native or -mcpu=native (if the compiler supports it).
  • generic: Use -march=x86-64 on x86-64, or -mcpu=cortex-a5 on ARM32v7, or -mcpu=cortex-a53 on ARM64v8.

The default value is auto.


Can be ON or OFF. When ON, the benchmarking script will try to use the ARMv8 Performance Monitoring Unit (PMU). This will make cycle counts on ARMv8 platforms significantly more accurate.

In order to use this option, user mode access to the PMU must be enabled via a kernel module. If user mode access is not enabled via kernel module, benchmarking will throw an Illegal Instruction error. A kernel module that has been found to work on several platforms can be found here for linux. Follow the instructions there (i.e., clone the repository, cd enable_ccr and make install) to load the kernel module, after which benchmarking should work. Superuser permissions are required. Linux header files must also be installed on your platform, which may not be present by default.

Note that this option is not known to work on Apple M1 chips.


This has effect when the compiler is Clang and when CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE is Debug. Then, it can be set to:

  • Address: This enables Clang's AddressSanitizer
  • Memory: This enables Clang's MemorySanitizer
  • MemoryWithOrigins: This enables Clang's MemorySanitizer with the added functionality of being able to track the origins of uninitialized values
  • Undefined: This enables Clang's UndefinedBehaviorSanitizer. The BLACKLIST_FILE option can be additionally set to a path to a file listing the entities Clang should ignore.
  • Thread: This enables Clang's ThreadSanitizer
  • Leak: This enables Clang's LeakSanitizer


This is used in conjunction with tests/ to use Valgrind to look for instances of secret-dependent control flow. liboqs must also be compiled with CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE set to Debug. See the documentation in tests/ for more information on usage.