Build procedure

This chapter describes the build procedure of the Emul8 framework. It assumes that you have all the necessary requirements, as described in System requirements.

In Building Emul8 we describe the basic options, which are enough for everyday use.

If you want to understand the build procedure in more detail or customize it, see Detailed building information further down.

Building Emul8

The build process consists of two phases.

First, you have to create a solution file, that will later be compiled. This is done by running, which allows to choose interactively which parts of the Emul8 framework get compiled.

The script supports the following options:


Batch mode, generates the All projects solution without interaction with the user.

-d value

Location of base directories (‘;’-separated).

-b value

Location for binaries compiled from generated project.

-o value

Location of generated files.


Keep submodules intact (do not update them).


Location of the main project file to use.


List of project files to exclude from generated solution.


Name of a generated solution (Emul8 by default).


Verbose mode.


Print help information.

The second step is to run, which supports the following options:


Verbose mode (more build debug output, but slower build).


Build all projects in Debug mode (more runtime debug information, but slower execution).


Clean all directories including the translation libs so that Emul8 can be fully rebuilt (might take a bit longer).


Generate deb/rpm/arch packages.


Path to the solution to build (target/Emul8.sln by default).


If you are working on a git repository, remember to rebuild after each git pull command.

Detailed building information


Unlike the rest of the project, CPU core libraries are written in the C language. It is required to use a special plugin in order to compile it with the xbuild framework. CCTask is used for this purpose.

The CPU core libraries are compiled automatically by the script.

Every core architecture listed below has its own project file located in the Emulator/Cores directory:

  • arm,
  • arm-m,
  • i386,
  • ppc,
  • sparc.

Each project file defines endianness supported by a translation library and the target’s architecture. Additionally it contains a group of properties required by Monodevelop in order to display the project properly in the solution tree.


Due to limitations of Monodevelop, core libraries projects have the .csproj extension (instead of the standard .cproj).


Due to bugs in xbuild, projects must provide a redundant EmulatedTarget property that has in most cases the same value as Architecture. Although this bug is already fixed in mainline xbuild, this workaround is still here so we don’t require the newest mono to build Emul8.


Although CCTask allows to build projects in parallel (the default setting), it sometimes fails due to bugs in mono. As a result, it is now disabled.

The targets for building and cleaning the project are defined in the common project file cores.template.csproj. The build action consists of building the translate.cproj file for selected endianness.

Host architecture detection

The build scripts detect the word size of the host machine automatically using EnvironmentTask provided by CCTask. The host architecture (and endianness) are hardcoded to i386 and little endian, as Emul8 can be run only on a PC right now.


Bootstrapping is a process of creating a dynamic solution file tailored to the needs of a developer. Instead of using the AllProjects solution containing references to every project in the Emul8 folder (and causing all this projects to be built) you can choose which elements are really needed in a given configuration.

Bootstrap is a command-line tool that automatically searches for projects and lets you decide which to include to generate a solution file.

Most users will be able to run / which provides capabilities necessary to prepare the build process before running ./ This section however focuses on Bootstrap in more detail, since this is a standalone program which can be used for more advanced use cases.

To run Bootstrap in interactive mode just execute Bootstrap.exe --interactive. This will start a dialog-like UI and scan the current folder for *.csproj files recursively.


Bootstrap will resolve all referenced projects and generate the output to Emul8.sln.

It also is possible to run Bootstrap in batch mode, which can be used in non-interactive scripts. The main actions available in batch mode are as follows:


To scan the selected folder for projects of a given type execute:

Bootstrap.exe scan --type Plugin --directories /path/to/folder;/path/to/another/folder

Available project types are: UI, Extension, Plugin, Tests, CpuCore or Unknown.

The project type is determined by reading the value of the ProjectInfo property. If the property is not set, Unknown is assumed.


To generate a solution file execute:

Bootstrap.exe GenerateSolution --output /path/to/output/solution --main-project /path/to/main/project.csproj --additional-projects /path/to/project_one.csproj;/path/to/project_two.csproj
This option is used to clean all files generated by bootstrap, i.e.: solution file and build-hooks files.

This option allows to generate a solution of all projects with references using a single command:

Bootstrap.exe GenerateAll

Again, for the most common use cases you can just use - it makes sure that both Bootstrap and CCTask projects are properly built and runs Bootstrap in interactive mode.