The Mesa 3D Graphics Library

Compilation and Installation using Meson

1. Basic Usage

The Meson build system is generally considered stable and ready for production

The meson build is tested on on Linux, macOS, Cygwin and Haiku, it should work on FreeBSD, DragonflyBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD.

Mesa requires Meson >= 0.44.1 to build. Some older versions of meson do not check that they are too old and will error out in odd ways.

The meson program is used to configure the source directory and generates either a ninja build file or Visual Studio® build files. The latter must be enabled via the --backend switch, as ninja is the default backend on all operating systems. Meson only supports out-of-tree builds, and must be passed a directory to put built and generated sources into. We'll call that directory "build" for examples.

    meson build/

To see a description of your options you can run meson configure along with a build directory to view the selected options for. This will show your meson global arguments and project arguments, along with their defaults and your local settings. Meson does not currently support listing options before configure a build directory, but this feature is being discussed upstream.

    meson configure build/

With additional arguments meson configure is used to change options on already configured build directory. All options passed to this command are in the form -D "command"="value".

    meson configure build/ -Dprefix=/tmp/install -Dglx=true

Note that options taking lists (such as platforms) are a bit more complicated, but the simplest form compatible with Mesa options is to use a comma to separate values (-D platforms=drm,wayland) and brackets to represent an empty list (-D platforms=[]).

Once you've run the initial meson command successfully you can use your configured backend to build the project. With ninja, the -C option can be be used to point at a directory to build.

    ninja -C build/

Without arguments, it will produce and/or several other libraries depending on the options you have chosen. Later, if you want to rebuild for a different configuration, you should run ninja clean before changing the configuration, or create a new out of tree build directory for each configuration you want to build as recommended in the documentation

Environment Variables

Meson supports the standard CC and CXX environment variables for changing the default compiler, and CFLAGS, CXXFLAGS, and LDFLAGS for setting options to the compiler and linker. The default compilers depends on your operating system. Meson supports most of the popular compilers, a complete list is available here. These arguments are consumed and stored by meson when it is initialized or re-initialized. Therefore passing them to meson configure will not do anything, and passing them to ninja will only do something if ninja decides to re-initialize meson, for example, if a file has been changed. Changing these variables will not cause all targets to be rebuilt, so running ninja clean is recommended when changing CFLAGS or CXXFLAGS. Meson will never change compiler in a configured build directory.

    CC=clang CXX=clang++ meson build-clang
    ninja -C build-clang
    ninja -C build-clang clean
    CFLAGS=-Wno-typedef-redefinition ninja -C build-clang

Meson also honors DESTDIR for installs


Meson includes upstream logic to wrap llvm-config using it's standard dependency interface. It will search $PATH (or %PATH% on windows) for llvm-config, so using an LLVM from a non-standard path is as easy as PATH=/path/with/llvm-config:$PATH meson build.


The pkg-config utility is a hard requirement for configuring and building Mesa on Unix-like systems. It is used to search for external libraries on the system. This environment variable is used to control the search path for pkg-config. For instance, setting PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/X11R6/lib/pkgconfig will search for package metadata in /usr/X11R6 before the standard directories.

One of the oddities of meson is that some options are different when passed to the meson than to meson configure. These options are passed as --option=foo to meson, but -Doption=foo to meson configure. Mesa defined options are always passed as -Doption=foo.

For those coming from autotools be aware of the following:


This option will set the compiler debug/optimisation levels to aid debugging the Mesa libraries.

Note that in meson this defaults to debugoptimized, and not setting it to release will yield non-optimal performance and binary size. Not using debug may interfere with debugging as some code and validation will be optimized away.

For those wishing to pass their own optimization flags, use the plain buildtype, which causes meson to inject no additional compiler arguments, only those in the C/CXXFLAGS and those that mesa itself defines.


This option controls assertions in meson projects. When set to false (the default) assertions are enabled, when set to true they are disabled. This is unrelated to the buildtype; setting the latter to release will not turn off assertions.