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Build - Linux CI

Symbiotic is an open-source framework for program analysis integrating instrumentation, static program slicing and various program analysis tools. Symbiotic is highly modular and most of its components are self-standing programs or LLVM passes that have their own repositories at

Getting started

Downloading Symbiotic

Tarballs with Symbiotic distribution can be downloaded from The latest release is the fixed version of Symbiotic archive that competed in SV-COMP 21. Alternatively, you can download archives used in SV-COMP 2021 (compiled on Ubuntu 20) or SV-COMP 2020 (compiled on Ubuntu 18).

After unpacking, Symbiotic should be ready to go.

Docker image

WARNING: is not up-to-date.

You can use also the docker image, but we do not keep them up to date:

docker pull mchalupa/symbiotic
docker run -ti mchalupa/symbiotic

Building Symbiotic from Sources

First of all you must clone the repository:

$ git clone

Run or script to compile Symbiotic:

$ cd symbiotic
$ ./ -j2

The difference betwee and is that will try to build only the components of Symbiotic, using the system's packages., on the other hand, tries to build also the most of the missing dependencies, including LLVM, z3, etc.

The scripts should complain about missing dependencies if any. You can try using scripts/ script to install the main dependencies (or at least check the names of packages). If the build script continues to complain, you must install the dependencies manually.

Possible options for the script include:

  • build-type=TYPE (TYPE one of Release, Debug)
  • llvm-version=VERSION (the default VERSION is 10.0.1, other versions are rather experimental)
  • with-llvm=, with-llvm-src=, with-llvm-dir= This set of options orders the script to use already built external LLVM (the build script will build LLVM otherwise if it has not been built already in this folder)
  • no-llvm Do not try building LLVM

There are many other options, but they are not properly documented (check the script). Actually, the whole build script should be rather a guidance of what is needed and how to build the components, but is not guaranteed to work on any system.

As you can see from the example, you can pass also arguments for make, e.g. -j2, to the build script. If you need to specify paths to header files or libraries, you can do it by passing CFLAGS, CPPFLAGS, and/or LDFLAGS environment variables either by exporting them beforehand, or by passing them on the command line similarly to make options (e.g. ./ CFLAGS='-g')

If everything goes well, Symbiotic components are built and should be usable right from the build directories (see the next section for more details). Also, the components are installed to the install/ directory that can be packed or copied wherever you need (you can use ./ archive to create a .zip file or full-archive to create .zip file including system libraries like libc with the build script). The install/ directory is under git control, so you can see the differences between versions or manually create an archive using git archive command.

When building on mac, you may need to build LLVM with shared libraries (modify the build script) or use with-llvm-* switch with your LLVM build.

Running Symbiotic

You can run Symbiotic directly from the root directory:

scripts/symbiotic <OPTIONS> file.c

If you run symbiotic from the scripts/ directory, it uses the components directly from the build directories, any changes to the components should take effect in this mode.

Alternatively, you can run Symbiotic also from the install/ directory:

$ install/bin/symbiotic <OPTIONS> file.c

In this mode, Symbiotic uses the components from the install/ directory.


In the case that something went wrong, try running Symbiotic with --debug=all switch. When the source code does not contain everything to compile (i.e. it includes some headers), you can use CFLAGS and CPPFLAGS environment variables to pass additional options to the compiler (clang). Either export them before running Symbiotic, or on one line:

CPPFLAGS='-I /lib/gcc/include' scripts/symbiotic file.c

You can also use --cppflags switch that works exactly the same as environment variables. If the program is split into more files, you can give Symbiotic all the files. At least one of them must contain the main function.

scripts/symbiotic main.c additional_definitions.c lib.c

Use --help switch to see all available options.


Let's see how you can use Symbiotic to find an error in the following program test1.c:

#include <assert.h>
#define N 10

extern int __VERIFIER_nondet_int(void);

int main( ) {
  int a[N];
  for (int i = 0; i < N; ++i) {
	  a[i] = __VERIFIER_nondet_int();

  int swapped = 1;
  while (swapped) {
    swapped = 0;
    for (int i = 1; i < N; ++i) {
      if ( a[i - 1] < a[i] ) {
        int t = a[i];
        a[i] = a[i - 1];
        a[i-1] = t;
        swapped = 1;

  for (int x = 0 ; x < N ; x++ ) {
    for (int y = x+1 ; y < N ; y++ ) {
      assert(a[x] <= a[y]);
  return 0;

Running scripts/symbiotic --exit-on-error test1.c should produce an output similar to the following. The --exit-on-error option ensures that we stop after the first error is found, otherwise the computation would run for much longer.

INFO: Optimizations time: 0.028319835662841797
INFO: Starting slicing
INFO: Total slicing time: 0.0068209171295166016
INFO: Optimizations time: 0.027271509170532227
INFO: After-slicing optimizations and transformations time: 2.288818359375e-05
INFO: Starting verification
b'KLEE: WARNING: undefined reference to function: klee_make_nondet'
b'KLEE: ERROR: /home/marek/src/symbiotic/test1.c:27: ASSERTION FAIL: a[x] <= a[y]'
b'KLEE: NOTE: now ignoring this error at this location'
INFO: Verification time: 12.27576208114624

 --- Error trace ---

Error: ASSERTION FAIL: a[x] <= a[y]
File: /home/marek/src/symbiotic/test1.c
Line: 27
assembly.ll line: 172
	#000000172 in main () at /home/marek/src/symbiotic/test1.c:27

 --- Sequence of non-deterministic values [function:file:line:col] ---

__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [4 times 0x0] (i32: 0)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)
__VERIFIER_nondet_int:test1.c:9:11 := len 4 bytes, [3 times 0x0|0x80] (i32: -2147483648)

 --- ----------- ---
Error found.
INFO: Total time elapsed: 12.659614086151123

In some cases, Symbiotic is able to generate also an executable witness. You must use --executable-witness switch. Then, you should see a message like this in the output:

Generating executable witness to : /home/marek/src/symbiotic/witness.exe

If you run the binary, it follows the found error path:

$ ./witness.exe
witness.exe: /home/marek/src/symbiotic/tests/test1-false-unreach-call.c:27: int main(): Assertion `a[x] <= a[y]' failed.
[1]    18810 abort (core dumped)  ./witness.exe

The binary is compiled with the -g option, so you can load it into a debugger.

In the default mode, Symbiotic looks for assertion violations. If you want to look for e.g., errors in memory manipulations, use --prp switch. For example, say you have a file test2.c with this contents:

extern void __VERIFIER_error() __attribute__ ((__noreturn__));

struct list {
 int n;
 struct list *next;

int i = 1;

struct list* append(struct list *l, int n)
 struct list *new_el;

 new_el = malloc(8);
 new_el->n = n;
 new_el->next = l;

 return new_el;

int main(void)
 struct list *l,m;
 l = &m;
 l->next = 0;
 l->n = 0;

 l = append(l, 1);
 l = append(l, 2);

 if (l->next->next->n == 0)
 return 0;

If you run scripts/symbiotic --prp=memsafety test2.c, you should get an output similar to the following:

INFO: Starting instrumentation
wrapper: `which slllvm` failed with error code 1

INFO: Instrumentation time: 0.04639697074890137
INFO: Optimizations time: 0.02850055694580078
INFO: Starting slicing
INFO: Total slicing time: 0.00681614875793457
INFO: Optimizations time: 0.02629995346069336
INFO: After-slicing optimizations and transformations time: 2.7894973754882812e-05
INFO: Starting verification
b'KLEE: WARNING ONCE: Alignment of memory from call "malloc" is not modelled. Using alignment of 8.'
b'KLEE: ERROR: /home/marek/src/symbiotic/test2_false-valid-deref.c:16: memory error: out of bound pointer'
b'KLEE: NOTE: now ignoring this error at this location'
INFO: Verification time: 0.029797792434692383

 --- Error trace ---

Error: memory error: out of bound pointer
File: /home/marek/src/symbiotic/test2_false-valid-deref.c
Line: 16
assembly.ll line: 31
	#000000031 in append (=94514011128176, =1) at /home/marek/src/symbiotic/test2_false-valid-deref.c:16
	#100000064 in main () at /home/marek/src/symbiotic/test2_false-valid-deref.c:28
	address: 26:94514011726424
	pointing to: object at 94514011726416 of size 8
		MO15[8] allocated at append():  %7 = call i8* @malloc(i64 8), !dbg !23

 --- Sequence of non-deterministic values [function:file:line:col] ---

 --- ----------- ---
Error found.
INFO: Total time elapsed: 0.6174993515014648

If you would omit the --prp=memsafety switch, you would see that Symbiotic reports no error. However, the output mentions some memory errors. This means that Symbiotic hit an error but different one that it should look for. Note that the difference is not only in parsing the output. Since Symbiotic slices the program w.r.t error-sites, it may remove some errors that are not related to the particular error that we looked for. So the fact that Symbiotic found an invalid dereference even though it did not look for that is just a lucky coincidence and may not be true for other programs.

Verification backends

By default, Symbiotic runs KLEE to analyze the program. However, it can use many other tools for the analysis. Here is the list of supported tools (some of them are integrated rather experimentally and may not work seamlessly):

tool switch
KLEE --target=klee
CPAchecker --target=cpachecker
DIVINE --target=divine
CBMC --target=cbmc
SMACK --target=smack
SeaHorn --target=seahorn
Nidhugg --target=nidhugg
IKOS --target=ikos
UAutomizer --target=ultimate

CC mode

Symbiotic can also just output the transformed bitcode or generate C code from the transformed bitcode. ...TBD...

Symbiotic Components

Components of Symbiotic can be found at with the only exception of dg library that is currently at All software used in Symbiotic are open-source projects and are licensed under various open-source licenses (mostly MIT license, and University of Illinois Open Source license)


For more information send an e-mail to