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Build Systems

For modm, build systems are not special and are treated as just another module that generates the build system configuration as part of your custom library.

The required data for this is a list of generated files provided by lbuild itself, and lots of metadata like header include paths, compile flags, preprocessor definitions, libraries to be linked, that is collected from each module.

This information is then assembled by the modm:build module which generates generic support files and data for providing compilation, uploading and debugging functionality.

This alone is not enough to compile your project though, so you have to select one or more modm:build:* submodules, that translates this data for the specific build system.

Build systems do not interoperate

While you can generate and use multiple build systems at the same time, they do not have the same feature set and do not interoperate. So you cannot compile your program with one build system and expect to upload the firmware to your target with another.

Add your build system

Most of the difficult work is done by the modm:build module, so adding another build system generator is a manageable feat. Feel free to open up an PR that adds support for your build system and we'll give you lots of tips during the review.

Enable parallel builds

Remember to add the -j8 flag to your scons/make build call to enable parallel builds, which are significantly faster than sequential builds. To make this a permanent setting you can add export SCONSFLAGS="-j8" or export MAKEFLAGS="-j8" to your .bashrc!


The modm:build:scons build system generator is our preferred and recommended one and features many very useful modm- and embedded-specific tools. However, it is more optimized for terminal use and not for integration into IDEs.

See the modm:build:scons documentation.


The modm:build:make generator creates a stand-alone, but feature-complete, Makefile build system. The embedded-specific tooling is provided by wrapping separate Python3 scripts in .PHONY targets. It is intended as a simple, hackable build system without standardized IDE integration.

See the modm:build:make documentation.


The modm:build:cmake module generates a CMake build script, which you can import into a lot of IDEs and compile it from there.

See the modm:build:cmake documentation.


All build system modules have many options, which you can set in your project.xml configuration file. However, there are also lbuild collectors, which are the mechanism used by the library modules themselves to communicate the required metadata to the build modules.

You can specify additional collector values in your project.xml file to customize your build! For example, if you disagree with our compile flags you can extend them like so:

    <!-- Warn about strict ISO C and C++ usage -->
    <collect name="modm:build:ccflags">-Wpedantic</collect>
    <!-- Don't warn about double promotion, I know what I'm doing (no, you don't) -->
    <collect name="modm:build:ccflags">-Wno-double-promotion</collect>

This can be significantly easier than manually editing the generated build scripts, and is also persistent across library regeneration. Please see the modm:build documentation for the available collectors and their inputs.