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Andrew Belt 2c2e232086 Revert "Use "latest" version in Rack SDK URL." 6 months ago
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VCV Rack plugin build toolchains

Cross-compile Rack plugins for Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, and GNU/Linux with a single command on any Linux distro.


Clone this repository in a path without spaces, or the Makefile will break.

Obtain MacOSX11.1.sdk.tar.xz using the instructions at, and place it in the root of this repository. You must have access to a Mac computer with Xcode 12.4 to generate this SDK package. You must use this specific SDK version to build the toolchains.

There are two ways to build the toolchains:

  • Locally on GNU/Linux: Uses your system's compilers to build the toolchains.
  • In a Docker container: This method uses an Arch Linux base image and installs all dependencies necessary to build the toolchains.

NOTE: The official VCV Rack plugin build system is based on Arch Linux.

Local toolchain build

Requires a GNU/Linux host.

Install toolchain build dependencies. On Arch Linux,

sudo make dep-arch-linux

or on Ubuntu,

sudo make dep-ubuntu

Build toolchains for all three platforms.

make toolchain-all

Each toolchain will take around an hour to build and will require network access, about 8 GB free RAM, and about 15 GB free disk space. The final disk space after building is about 3.7 GB.

Build your plugin.

make -j$(nproc) plugin-build PLUGIN_DIR=...

Built plugin packages are placed in the plugin-build/ directory.

Docker toolchain build

Works on any operating system with Docker installed.

IMPORTANT: Do not invoke the Docker-based toolchain with sudo! There is no need to do so and it will not work correctly.

Instead, follow the instructions to let non-root users manage Docker containers:

Build the Docker container with toolchains for all platforms.

make docker-build

Optional: Pass number of jobs to use to for the tool chain build with the JOBS environment variable.

JOBS=8 make docker-build

(-j8 will not work due to the different build systems used in the toolchain build process.)

Build your plugin.

make -j8 docker-plugin-build PLUGIN_DIR=...

You may replace 8 with your desired number of parallel jobs, such as your number of logical cores.

Built plugin packages are placed in the plugin-build/ directory.

Rack SDK management

The latest Rack SDKs for all supported platforms are downloaded during the toolchain build.

The SDKs can be updated to the latest version (defined in the Makefile) as follows:

make rack-sdk-clean
make rack-sdk-all

This is especially convenient for the Docker-based toolchain, because it does not require to rebuild the entire toolchain to update to the latest SDK.


Thanks to @cschol for help with crosstool-ng, Ubuntu, Docker, and testing.