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Faster compiles with ccache and tmpfs

2013-10-02

Live demo in BSD Now Episode 005 | Originally written by TJ for bsdnow.tv | Last updated: 2015/04/05

NOTE: the author/maintainer of the tutorial(s) is no longer with the show, so the information below may be outdated or incorrect.

If you've used ports on any BSD system, you know that sometimes things take a while to compile. There are many factors involved, but the most important one is how fast the CPU of the system is. There are a few things you can do to speed up all your compiles though. For FreeBSD, this might include:

  • Using Clang/LLVM instead of GCC (this only applies to FreeBSD <10 where GCC is default)
  • Building ports in RAM instead of being bound by disk I/O
  • Using ccache to save time on things you've already compiled

Setting up ccache is pretty easy. First, install it from ports. If you're using binary packages, you obviously don't need ccache.

# cd /usr/ports/devel/ccache
# make install clean

Append a few lines to your make.conf like so:

# vi /etc/make.conf

Add the following:

CC=clang
CXX=clang++
CPP=clang-cpp
WRKDIRPREFIX=/ram
CCACHE_DIR=/var/tmp/ccache

Next, make the /ram directory and set a limit of how much RAM it can use. In this case I'll use ~2GB. Adjust for your needs.

# mkdir /ram
# echo 'none /ram tmpfs rw,size=2147483648 0 0' >> /etc/fstab
# mount /ram

Now all ports you build will be compiled entirely in RAM. You can check your ccache usage with:

# ccache -s

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