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Unix Detailed Build Instructions

Daniel Nunes,

This is a guide to building Mozilla on Unix including,

  • A list of the required development tools.
  • Commands to build Mozilla using the Autoconf build system.

For documentation on developing features or fixing bugs, look at the Mozilla Technical Documents or Mozilla Library. For general Unix issues, look at the Mozilla Unix.

Other Unix Build pages


See the unix build requirements

Get the Code

There are two ways to get the code:

  • ftp: Drops are generally produced at least once per week (usually daily), and are known to compile and even run on a few platforms.
  • CVS: Provides the most current code, but is slower than ftp. (First check that Tinderbox is green to be sure it will compile.)
    setenv CVSROOT
    cvs login
    (password: anonymous) (You only need to login once) cvs co mozilla/ cd mozilla gmake -f checkout
    The makefile pulls the right source for building mozilla, which includes some tagged branches (e.g., NSPR).
  • Do not try to manually check out the mozilla/ CVS tree on the HEAD branch. It will not work.

Build the Lizard

Manually drive the build

  1. cd mozilla
  2. ./configure [options]
    For configure options, run ./configure --help, or use the Unix Build Configurator. If you don't know what a configure option does, don't use it. The default is to create a un-optimized build with debugging information. If you want an optimized build, use the configure options --disable-debug --enable-optimize.
  3. gmake

Once you have configured, you only have to run configure if you add or remove files (cvs update can do this. Beware!). The list of makefiles is in mozilla/

For build system hackers: If you change, cd to mozilla, and run autoconf-2.13. This generates a new configure script. (When you checkin, cvs will run autoconf and check in a new configure script for you).

Automated build (

  1. Save the script from Unix Build Configurator as ~/.mozconfig.
  2. cvs co -f mozilla/
  3. cd mozilla
  4. gmake -f
If you want to build without pulling the tree (as in, you already have the source lying around),

gmake -f build
If you just want to pull the tree,

gmake -f checkout

If you want to build Firefox, use the example mozconfig file in the mozilla/browser/config source directory.

After the build

  • cd dist/bin and you should see links to the scripts to run the executables: mozilla and
  • If the scripts do not work, set LD_LIBRARY_PATH and run mozilla-bin and viewer directly. Set LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include dist/bin, and the NSPR and GTK libraries. (For example, you might set it to .:../../nspr/lib).
    • On HP-UX, the equivalent environment variable is SHLIB_PATH.
    • On AIX, the equivalent environment variable is LIBPATH.
  • If you run the executables from anywhere other than dist/bin, you must set the environment variable MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME to point to the absolute path of the dist/bin directory.
  • Update your tree by re-checking out the source, e.g. repeating the initial checkout process.


  • Parallel builds: just adding -j4 to gmake doesn't work, you need to do this:
      setenv MAKE gmake -j4