How to check out and build Skia on Linux


On a Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise) or Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty) system, you can run tools/, which will install the needed packages.  On Ubuntu 12.04, you will need to install the ninja build tool separately, which comes with Chromium's depot_tools.

To contribute changes back to Skia, you will need git-cl, which comes with Chromium's depot_tools.

(If you use another Linux distribution, please consider contributing back instructions for installing the required packages — we can then incorporate that knowledge into the tools/ tool.)

Make sure the following have been installed:

  • Chromium depot_tools:
  • A C++ compiler (typically gcc)
  • python 2.7.x
  • The FreeType and Fontconfig font engines
    • suggested Ubuntu packages: libfreetype6libfreetype6-dev , libfontconfig , libfontconfig-dev
      e.g., sudo apt-get install libfreetype6 libfreetype6-dev libfontconfig libfontconfig-dev
  • libpng
  • libgif
    • suggested Ubuntu package: libgif-dev
      e.g., sudo apt-get install libgif-dev
      $ sudo apt-get install libgif4:i386
      $ sudo ln -s /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/ /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/
  • libglu1-mesa-dev
  • mesa-common-dev
  • GL
    • such as freeglut3-dev
  • Poppler PDF rendering library C++ development files
    • suggested Ubuntu package: libpoppler-cpp-dev

Check out the source code

Generate build files

We use the open-source gyp tool to generate ninja files (and analogous build scripts on other platforms) from our multiplatform "gyp" files.

Generate the build files by running the following in your Skia home directory:


Or, you can just rely on it being run automatically by using "make" instead of "ninja" in examples shown below.

If you want to use Eclipse, see Creating an Eclipse Project after you have generated the makefiles.

Build and run tests from the command line
ninja -C out/Debug dm

The usual mode you want for testing is Debug mode (SK_DEBUG is defined, and debug symbols are included in the binary). If you would like to build the Release version instead:

ninja -C out/Release dm

Build and run nanobench (performance tests)

In this case, we will build with the "Release" configuration, since we are running performance tests.

ninja -C out/Release nanobench
out/Release/nanobench [ --skps path/to/*.skp ]

Build and run SampleApp

This time we will add the "-j" flag to fire up multiple threads during the build. (This can be used with the other targets too.)

make -j SampleApp

When this launches, you should see a window with various graphical examples. To move through the sample app, use the following keypresses:

  • right-arrow key: cycle through different test pages
  • left-arrow key: cycle through rendering methods for each test page
  • other keys are defined in SampleApp.cpp’s SampleWindow::onHandleKey() and SampleWindow::onHandleChar() methods

Build and run gm ("golden master") tests

This will display the return value (0 = success) after running the tests...

make -j gm
out/Debug/gm -r gm/base-linux ; echo $?

You can also adjust the type used to represent SkScalar. By default, we use a float. To change that, run it as follows:

GYP_DEFINES="skia_scalar=fixed" make -j gm
out/Debug/gm -r gm/base-linux-fixed ; echo $?

Build and run bench (performance testbench)

Since bench tests performance, it usually makes more sense to run it in Release mode...

make -j bench BUILDTYPE=Release

Build tools

make -j tools

Clean up all generated files

make clean