Assignment 1 (Pcvitori)

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In prior years, I have attempted to build various open source projects, for example KDE. This project however, will be my first attempt at building Firefox. Before I begin discussing the whole build process, it is important for you to have some basic information about the computer that I will be building on.

Hardware Configuration

Intel Pentium 4 Processor-M 1.6 MHz
512 MB RAM
40 gig Hard Drive
Dual Boot – Ubuntu and Windows XP

This computer is about 5 years old. So let’s see how it holds up in a Firefox build. Let the build begin!

Software Installation

Since I have already installed the latest version of Ubuntu on my notebook, I will only require a few more packages before I can execute my first build. My first step was to install any missing build prerequisites on the developer website on to my machine. Using the Synaptic Install Wizard, I located and downloaded each package listed on the Mozilla website (Linux Build Prerequisites). The following packages were installed:


My next step required me to download the most recent version of the Mozilla source code from the cvs repository. To accomplish this task, I first need to create a directory to hold all my cvs repositories. Finally, I needed to checkout the latest browser version from the Mozilla trunk and build it. I used the following commands to complete these tasks.

>$ mkdir cvs
>$ cd cvs 
>$ cvs -d co mozilla/
>$ cd mozilla

Now that I have a link to the Mozilla repository, I can now specify which code segment to download using the MOZ_CO_PROJECT parameter. Since I am only building Firefox, I am able to specify the keyword ‘browser’ for the MOZ_CO_PROJECT parameter, which will allow me to download browser components.

>$ make -f checkout MOZ_CO_PROJECT=browser

By accident, I missed the section that discusses the build options configuration file. I then quickly moved to the Firefox build section and initiated the following command to build my newly downloaded browser source.

>$ make -f build

The Build

Problems Encountered

The very first problem I encountered was due to my failing to see the section about creating a .mozconfig file has resulted in the following error.

-Error: Parameter missing: --enable-application=APP

After reading over the configure build options web page, I quickly created my .mozconfig file with the following parameters.

mk_add_options MOZ_CO_PROJECT=browser
ac_add_options --enable-application=browser

Once again, I initiated the build command described above to restart the Firefox build. After one hour into the build process, I noticed a consistent flow of error messages being display on my terminal. Minutes later, the build crashed. It turns out that I was missing a file called ‘int_types.h’ which caused various build files to crash as they could not resolve to this header file. After various google searches with no results, I decided to venture into the google newsgroups in hopes of an answer. To my surprise, many users were having the same issue. As I began to read the descriptions of many cases, I quickly realized that my current situation was a result of not having the g++ package installed. I quickly installed the g++ package and re-executed the build command.

The build process this time failed much quicker then my previous attempt. Once again I received the same error as before. This time, I decided to venture into IRC and talk to my fellow classmates about the problem I was having. Within minutes, I had various users assisting me with my build problems. Tom (mystic) took the time to ensure that I had the required packages (libraries) installed. Dave then asked me about my make version and described how it may cause an issue if I had the wrong version installed. After double checking all the requirements listed by Tom and Dave, I found that they were all correct on my system. Therefore, I decided to delete and re-checkout the whole Mozilla browser code from the trunk.

Crossing my fingers, I executed the build command in hopes that my previous snapshot of the repository was corrupted. Surely enough, I was correct. Three hours later, I then had my first Firefox build!


More Information



In all honesty, I was expecting a Mozilla Firefox build to be much more complex and difficult then it was. It turned out to be better then I expected, as building on Ubuntu proved to be very easy and straight forward. The build problems I encountered allowed me to understand more about the build system and how the slightest file/version change can break the build.