In case build fails you can find per-build log files under the BUILD directory located in the working directory.

Assuming the working directory is sw (the default) and the package whose build failed is boost, you will find its log under:


Note that when running aliBuild --debug the output is also echoed in your current terminal.

Common issues

I have an error while compiling AliPhysics / AliRoot.

Notice that in general this kind of errors are not really aliBuild related, but they are genuine issues in either AliRoot and AliPhysics. To get the accurate and fastest feedback, the “best practice” is to do the following:

  • Make sure you have the latest version of both AliPhysics and AliRoot. If not, update to it and rebuild. Most likely someone else has already noticed your problem and fixed it. aliBuild will actually remind you of doing so if you are using master.
  • If you still have a message, read what the error log for your package is saying and try to extract the first error. In general you can simply look for the first occurrence of *** or error: and try to read a few lines around there.
  • Try to find out who modified the files with an error last. This can be done by cd-ing into AliRoot / AliPhysics, issuing:

    git log @{yesterday}.. -- <name-of-the-file-with-error>

    and reading who was the author of the last few commits.

  • Write a message to explaining the error. Make sure you report the first few lines of it you have identified above, and to include the author of the last changes in the problematic file.
  • Make sure you do not attach big log files since they will cause a traffic storm since the list has many participants and each one of them will get a copy of the attachment, even if not interested. A much better approach is to use a service like CERNBox, Dropbox or alikes which allow to share files by providing a link to them, rather than by attachment.

What are the system prerequisites of alibuild?

In principle aliBuild should now notify you for missing required system dependencies and complain with a clear message if that is not the case. For example if you lack bz2 it will now tell you with the following message:

Please install bzip2 development package on your system

Moreover it will try to reuse as much as possible from your system, so if you have a system CMake which is compatible with the one required by AliRoot it will also pick up your version. Failing that it will build it for you. You can have a look at what AliRoot will do by adding the --dry-run option to your build command, e.g.:

alibuild --dry-run <additional options you might have> build AliRoot

will tell you something like:

Using package CMake from the system as preferred choice.
Using package libxml2 from the system as preferred choice.
Using package SWIG from the system as preferred choice.
Using package zlib from the system as preferred choice.
Using package autotools from the system as preferred choice.
Using package GSL from the system as preferred choice.
System package boost cannot be used. Building our own copy.
We will build packages in the following order: defaults-release AliEn-CAs GMP UUID gSOAP ApMon-CPP GEANT4 boost MPFR MonALISA-gSOAP-client cgal XRootD fastjet xalienfs AliEn-Runtime ROOT vgm GEANT3 GEANT4_VMC AliRoot

If you have a system package which you think should be used but it’s not, you can run aliDoctor <package-name> to try to understand why that was the case (or you can open a bug report with its output and we will look at it).

What is PIP ? How do I install it?

PIP is the de-facto standard package manager for python. While it is usually installed by default on modern distributions, it can happen this is not the case. If so, you can usually get it via:

sudo yum install python-pip     # (Centos / Fedora / SLC derivatives)
sudo dnf install python-pip     # (Fedora 22+)
sudo apt-get install python-pip # (Ubuntu / Debian alikes)

Alternatively you can try to install it by hand by following the instructions here.

Package branch was updated, but aliBuild does not rebuild it

Some recipes specify branches in the tag: field instead of an actual tag. For such recipes, aliBuild must contact remote servers in order to determine what is the latest commit for that branch. Since this is a corner case and the operation is expensive and slow, it is off by default, and cached information is used instead. Try to ask aliBuild to update its cached information by using the -u or --fetch-repos switch.

AliEn broken after building with aliBuild

If you are migrating from other ALICE build instructions to use aliBuild and you are running on OSX, it could happen that you encounter an error of the kind:

dlopen error: dlopen(/Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/ROOT/v5-34-30-alice-1/lib/, 9): Library not loaded: libXrdUtils.1.dylib
  Referenced from: /Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/ROOT/v5-34-30-alice-1/lib/
  Reason: image not found
Load Error: Failed to load Dynamic link library /Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/ROOT/v5-34-30-alice-1/lib/
E-TCint::AutoLoadCallback: failure loading dependent library for class TAlienJDL
dlopen error: dlopen(/Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/ROOT/v5-34-30-alice-1/lib/, 9): Library not loaded: /Users/jmargutti/alice/sw/INSTALLROOT/ac18e6eaa3ed801ac1cd1e788ac08c82ffd29235/osx_x86-64/xalienfs/v1.0.14r1-1/lib/
  Referenced from: /Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/ROOT/v5-34-30-alice-1/lib/
  Reason: image not found
Load Error: Failed to load Dynamic link library /Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/ROOT/v5-34-30-alice-1/lib/
E-TCint::AutoLoadCallback: failure loading library for class TAlienJDL
dlopen error: dlopen(/Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/AliEn-Runtime/v2-19-le-1/lib/, 9): Library not loaded: libXrdSec.0.dylib
  Referenced from: /Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/AliEn-Runtime/v2-19-le-1/lib/
  Reason: image not found
Load Error: Failed to load Dynamic link library /Users/me/alice/sw/osx_x86-64/AliEn-Runtime/v2-19-le-1/lib/
E-P010_TAlien: Please fix your loader path environment variable to be able to load

This happens because the new version of AliEn compiled by aliBuild is incompatible with the old one. You can fix this issue by doing:

  1. Remove old alien token stuff from /tmp (e.g. rm /tmp/gclient_env* /tmp/gclient_token* /tmp/x509*)
  2. Get a new token
  3. Source /tmp/gclient_env* file

and trying again.

aliBuild does not work on OSX with Python shipped with ANACONDA

If you are using ANACONDA (which python to verify), the old version of aliBuild had troubles with it. Upgrading to the latest version via:

pip install --upgrade alibuild

or by doing git pull should fix the issue.

aliBuild does not pick up tool X from the sytem

By default aliBuild prefers using tools from the system whenever possible. Examples of those tools are CMake, the GCC compiler or the autotools suite. If this does not happen even if you have it installed it means that aliBuild does not consider you system tool good enough to be compatible with the one provided by the recipe. You can verify what happens during the system tool detection by running:

aliDoctor <package name>

AliBuild fails with cannot open file "AvailabilityMacros.h

If your build fails with:

Error: cannot open file "AvailabilityMacros.h" sw/BUILD/.../ROOT/include/RConfig.h:384:

and you are on macOS, this most likely means you have an incomplete XCode installation, e.g. due to an upgrade. You can fix this with:

xcode-select --install

I do not have privileges and I cannot install via pip

If you do not have root privileges on your machine and pip install alibuild fails, you have two options:

  • If your pip supports it, you can add the --user flag and that will install alibuild in ~/.local. I.e.:

    pip install --user alibuild
  • If your pip is old or if you do not have pip at all on your system or you do not want to use pip for whatever reasons, you can still simply checkout the sources with:

    git clone

    and simply run alibuild by invoking alibuild/aliBuild.

I am changing an uncommitted file in a development package, but it is not updated in the installation folder.

If you add a file to a development package and the build recipe is able to handle uncommitted files, it will be copied the first time.

However alibuild considers any untracked file as the same, and therefore unless the file is added or committed to the local clone of the development package any subsequent rebuild will ignore the changes. This can be worked around in two ways:

  1. You add the file to your local clone via git add / git commit
  2. You add an incremental_recipe which is able to handle uncommitted files

What 1. does is to make alibuild aware of the changes of the new file, so you will get a new build for each change to the file. What 2. does is to always execute the incremental recipe to refresh the installation folder on each aliBuild invokation, possibly updating untracked files if so specified in the recipe itself.

How do I set compilation options for AliRoot and / or AliPhysics?

If you want to change the compilation options for AliRoot, AliPhysics, or as a matter of fact any packages you have two options:

  • If the package itself is one which you are developing locally, i.e. you have the checkout available, you can modify its CMakeFile, add whatever options you like there and then issue again your aliBuild command.
  • On contrary, if you do not have a local checkout but you still want to modify it’s compiler flags, you can edit the alidist/ recipe and add the options there.

Finally, for certain common options, e.g. debug flags, we provide a precooked configuration using so called defaults. Simply add --defaults debug to your aliBuild flags and it will add debug flags to all your packages.

AliPhysics takes very long time to build and builds things like autotools, GCC

In order to build AliPhysics, a number of externals are required, including working autotools, boost, and GCC. While aliBuild tries it best to reuse whatever comes from the system, it will not complain when building unless one of the system dependencies is absolutely required (e.g. X11, perl). This might lead to the fact it will rebuild large tool, where simply installing them might be a better option. For this reason we suggest that users run:

aliDoctor AliPhysics

in the same path where their alidist folder is, before actually starting to build, so that they can get an overview of what will be picked up from the system and what not.

Notice that if you change (either add or remove) your set of system dependencies, aliBuild will trigger a rebuild of whatever depends on them, taking additional time, so make sure you do this when not pressed for a deadline.

Permission denied when running alienv on shared (farm) installations

When attempting to do alienv operations on shared (farm) installations you might get a number of Permission denied errors. In order to fix this problem you need to make sure that shared builds with aliBuild are always made by the same user. In addition after every aliBuild run the person who has run it has to run the following command in order to generate all the correct modulefiles as seen by the users:

alienv q

Users have to append the --no-refresh option to every alienv operation, for instance:

alienv --no-refresh enter AliPhysics/latest

Note that the --no-refresh option is not necessary anymore starting from v1.4.0.rc1.

Building on Windows Ubuntu environment does not work

At the time of writing, neither Windows native nor the Ubuntu environment on Windows are supported and most likely this will stay the same unless some third party does the work and provides a pull request.

Can I build on an unsupported architecture?

You can try, but of course your milage might vary. In case the architecture is similar to one of the supported ones (e.g. Ubuntu and Kubuntu) this should be recognized automatically and the build should proceed, attempting to use the supported one. This will still not guarantee things will not break for some packages.

In case the architecture is completely unknown to us, you will get a message:

ERROR: Cannot autodetect architecture

if you still want to try, you can use the --force-unknown-architecture option and while we strive our best to help you out also in this case, sometimes priorities force us to simply ignore support requests.

How do I run on a system where I do not have global install rights?

If you want to run on a system where you do not have global install rights, and the PyYAML package is not installed (e.g. lxplus), you can still do so by using the --user flag when you install with pip. This will install alibuild under ~/.local/bin.

This means that you need to do (only once):

pip install --user --upgrade alibuild

and then adapt you PATH to pickup the local installation, e.g. via:

export PATH=~/.local/bin:$PATH