A build bot for popular Lua projects (Lua 5.1, LuaJIT 1 & LuaJIT 2)
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A build bot for popular Lua projects

Lots of Lua projects (including Lua itself and LuaJIT) only release source code archives and expect users to build the project. On UNIX this is not really a problem but on Windows this can pose a significant hurdle for potential users. My Lua build bot is an attempt to solve this problem. While developing this build bot I took the following points into consideration:

  • I've had bad experiences with cross compilation so I prefer to build Windows binaries on Windows
  • I don't actually have any Windows machines and don't feel like setting one up just for this build bot
  • I want to be able to run the build bot from a cron job so it can automatically build all projects once a week


Project discontinued

I'm sorry to say that this project has been discontinued. My reasons for this are as follows (the below points are my opinions, I don't necessarily expect anyone to agree with them):

  • I stopped using Windows, in fact I abandoned the complete Microsoft software stack

    • One reason for this is that I consider the Microsoft stack very unfriendly to developers who are (like me) oriented toward command line automation.

    • Another reason is the fact that quite a few of Microsoft's build tools are commercially licensed and have restrictions on redistribution of software built using them.

    • I switched away from Microsoft Windows for personal use years ago and paying for a new license with every Microsoft Windows release just to keep this Lua build bot running feels absurd to me.

    • As a more general point, I don't like where the development of Microsoft and Windows have been heading in the past couple of years.

  • I more or less stopped using Lua for personal projects :-(

    • When I originally fell in love with Lua the language I quickly got frustrated by the surrounding ecosystem because I wanted to use Lua as a general purpose language (admittedly not its original purpose).

      • Out of frustration I started working on [Lua/APR] lua_apr to provide myself with a more generally useful "standard library" of operating system interfaces.

      • When I started developing Lua/APR I seriously underestimated my knowledge of [low level systems programming] c, this is why it took me years to get the project to a state where I could be proud of it.

      • In the end I did get quite far with Lua/APR, eventually presenting it at the [Lua Workshop 2011] workshop and having it [included in Debian] debian.

    • Having Lua/APR available for operating system interfacing was nice, but what I really wanted from my favorite programming language was a rich ecosystem of bindings and packages. Even after creating Lua/APR I still regularly fell into the trap of wanting and not finding bindings to shared libraries. Creating such bindings for every project you want to work on quickly gets tiresome.

    • Starting from 2011 I got a full time job working as a software engineer and later system administrator (DevOps) working on Python projects and this slowly but surely pulled me away from the world of Lua. If you look at [my GitHub profile] github_profile now (in 2015) you'll see what I mean :-).

For now, given this extensive explanation, I will keep the repository online, maybe it can serve as inspiration to others. Or who knows, maybe I'll find a way to run Windows legally without paying for licenses and I can find a way to revive the build bot (no promises though). I still love Lua the language, so there's one thing :-).

To-do list

The following stuff has not yet been implemented but is on the to-do list:

  • Make the build bot test the binaries using a test suite of some sort; if everything is going to be automated I have to know that the binaries I'm publishing actually work
  • Deploy the build bot and virtual machine to one of my servers and run the build bot from a daily cron job?
  • Use LuaRocks to build Lua modules: currently the build bot uses custom batch scripts to build Lua modules, but of course a generic solution is preferable!
    • While adding support for the LuaSocket module I was curious enough to try if luarocks install luasocket would work in my environment but it doesn't; msbuild complains that the project files are incompatible
  • Support for Mac binaries? This requires someone to run the build bot periodically on their Mac, because I don't have access to any Mac machines


The following packages have been built by the Lua build bot:

Implementations of Lua

ReleaseSizeSHA1 hash
Lua 5.1.4234Kb312a0f67fae85d0969edcccee3df3bb27b6c228
LuaJIT 1.1.7255Kf58c039e0a890601d44f7026f36ed7e9a9de0990
LuaJIT 2.0.0 beta 8269K7b3f8a8c4788e67c737137e69c9bbe39ba183410

Lua modules

ReleaseSizeSHA1 hash
LPeg 0.10.289K159a31446cc4c0f3a28e892c2c61d4bac52f25ee
LuaSocket 2.0.2126Ka6a8fe0763cd21160c4cde2f6da8df5095851c36
LuaFileSystem 1.5.070K9c482f761d4e7624215b62e0b807a59ff44a3309

How it works

Right now the build bot is meant to be run on my machine because it works in a very specific way, however I'm planning to make it more generally useful (and with a bit of persistence it should already be possible for other folks to get it running). At the moment I run the build bot as follows:

  • I start the build bot script from a terminal on my Ubuntu Linux installation
  • The build bot starts a headless virtual machine running Windows using VirtualBox
    • The virtual machine has been specifically setup for the build bot (see below)
    • When the virtual machine boots it automatically launches the build bot
  • When the build bot is executed on Windows it performs the following steps for each project:
    • Find latest available release from homepage
    • Download archive (if not already downloaded)
    • Unpack and build project
    • Copy files to be released (binaries & headers)
  • When the build bot was executed automatically on Windows, it will shut the virtual machine down

As I mentioned above the plan is to run the build bot from a cron job on a server, this is still a work in progress.

Dependencies in the VM

In order to run the build bot on Windows I installed the following software in the virtual machine:

I'm not publishing the virtual machine image because it was registered with my serial number and of course it's quite big (more than 2 GB). However it's not hard to create the virtual machine, it just takes a bit of time. Apart from installing the software mentioned above, there are only two things to configure in the virtual machine:

  • Inside the virtual machine I've mounted a shared folder as a network drive, this enables the two build bots to easily exchange files
  • After creating the network drive I added buildbot.cmd to my Start → Programs → Startup menu so that the build bot runs automatically after the VM is started and shuts down the VM after building all projects


If you have questions, bug reports, suggestions, etc. the author can be contacted at peter@peterodding.com. The latest version is available at http://peterodding.com/code/lua/buildbot and http://github.com/xolox/lua-buildbot.


This software is licensed under the MIT license.
© 2011 Peter Odding <peter@peterodding.com>.


  • This license only applies to the build bot itself -- I don't have any affiliation with the projects supported by the build bot, I'm just a happy user
  • Should the original authors have objections against this build bot, let me know and I will remove support for the project in question
  • I don't give any guarantees as to the published binaries. They're generated in a dedicated machine so it's very unlikely that a virus could sneak in, but you never know until you've scanned the binaries yourself...