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Cranelift codegen backend for rust

The goal of this project is to create an alternative codegen backend for the rust compiler based on Cranelift. This has the potential to improve compilation times in debug mode. If your project doesn't use any of the things listed under "Not yet supported", it should work fine. If not please open an issue.

Download using Rustup

The Cranelift codegen backend is distributed in nightly builds on Linux and x86_64 macOS. If you want to install it using Rustup, you can do that by running:

$ rustup component add rustc-codegen-cranelift-preview --toolchain nightly

Once it is installed, you can enable it with one of the following approaches:

  • CARGO_PROFILE_DEV_CODEGEN_BACKEND=cranelift cargo +nightly build -Zcodegen-backend
  • RUSTFLAGS="-Zcodegen-backend=cranelift" cargo +nightly build
  • Add the following to .cargo/config.toml:
    codegen-backend = true
    codegen-backend = "cranelift"
  • Add the following to Cargo.toml:
    # This line needs to come before anything else in Cargo.toml
    cargo-features = ["codegen-backend"]
    codegen-backend = "cranelift"

Precompiled builds

You can also download a pre-built version from the releases page. Extract the dist directory in the archive anywhere you want. If you want to use cargo clif build instead of having to specify the full path to the cargo-clif executable, you can add the bin subdirectory of the extracted dist directory to your PATH. (tutorial for Windows, and for Linux/MacOS).

Building and testing

If you want to build the backend manually, you can download it from GitHub and build it yourself:

$ git clone
$ cd rustc_codegen_cranelift
$ ./ prepare
$ ./ build

To run the test suite replace the last command with:

$ ./

For more docs on how to build and test see build_system/usage.txt or the help message of ./

Platform support

OS \ architecture x86_64 AArch64 Riscv64 s390x (System-Z)
Linux 1 1
FreeBSD 1
AIX 2 N/A N/A 2
Other unixes
macOS 3 N/A N/A
Windows 1 N/A N/A

✅: Fully supported and tested ❓: Maybe supported, not tested ❌: Not supported at all

Not all targets are available as rustup component for nightly. See notes in the platform support matrix.


rustc_codegen_cranelift can be used as a near-drop-in replacement for cargo build or cargo run for existing projects.

Assuming $cg_clif_dir is the directory you cloned this repo into and you followed the instructions ( prepare and build or

In the directory with your project (where you can do the usual cargo build), run:

$ $cg_clif_dir/dist/cargo-clif build

This will build your project with rustc_codegen_cranelift instead of the usual LLVM backend.

For additional ways to use rustc_codegen_cranelift like the JIT mode see

Building and testing with changes in rustc code


Not yet supported


Licensed under either of

at your option.


Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.


  1. Not available as rustup component for nightly. You can build it yourself. 2 3 4

  2. XCOFF object file format is not supported. 2

  3. Tracked in #1248.