The Waf build system
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Waf is a Python-based framework for configuring, compiling and installing applications. Here are perhaps the most important features of Waf:

  • Automatic build order: the build order is computed from input and output files, among others
  • Automatic dependencies: tasks to execute are detected by hashing files and commands
  • Performance: tasks are executed in parallel automatically, the startup time is meant to be fast (separation between configuration and build)
  • Flexibility: new commands and tasks can be added very easily through subclassing, bottlenecks for specific builds can be eliminated through dynamic method replacement
  • Extensibility: though many programming languages and compilers are already supported by default, many others are available as extensions
  • IDE support: Eclipse, Visual Studio and Xcode project generators (waflib/extras/)
  • Documentation: the application is based on a robust model documented in The Waf Book and in the API docs
  • Python compatibility: cPython 2.5 to 3.4, Jython 2.5, IronPython, and Pypy

Waf is used in particular by innovative companies such as Avalanche Studios and by open-source projects such as RTEMS. Learn more about Waf by reading The Waf Book.

For researchers and build system writers, Waf also provides a framework for creating custom build systems and package distribution systems.

Download the project from our page on or from a mirror on, consult the manual, the API documentation and the showcases and experiments.


Python >= 2.6 is required to generate the waf script, and the resulting file can then run on Python 2.5. Just run:

$ ./waf-light configure build

Or, if several python versions are installed:

$ python3 ./waf-light configure build

The Waf tools in waflib/extras are not added to the waf script. To add some of them, use the --tools switch. An absolute path can be passed if the module does not exist under the 'extras' folder:

$ ./waf-light --tools=swig

To customize the initialization, pass the parameter 'prelude'. Here is for example how to create a waf file using the compat15 module:

$ ./waf-light --tools=compat15 --prelude=$'\tfrom waflib.extras import compat15\n'

Although any kind of initialization is possible, using the build system kit may be easier (folder build_system_kit):

$ ./waf-light --make-waf --tools=compat15,/comp/waf/ --prelude=$'\tfrom waflib.extras import compat15\n\tprint("ok")'

To avoid regenerating the waf file all the time, just set the WAFDIR environment variable to the directory containing "waflib".


Try this:

cp waf demos/c/
cd demos/c/
./waf configure build