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Cross-Compilation Environment Toolkit.

Project description

Crossroad is a command line tool to easily set up your shell environment for cross-compilation, on a GNU/Linux distribution.

Be aware that this is essentially a developer tool. Its target audience are developers working on UNIX systems (tested on GNU/Linux systems: Debian, Fedora, Linux Mint, and Mageia, and expected to work on other distributions), and wishing to cross-compile projects from the same platform. It is not for end-users, and is useless in running software, only building them.

9 target environments are supported currently:

  • Windows (x86) 32-bit

  • Windows (x86) 64-bit

  • Android (arm)

  • Android (arm64)

  • Android (x86)

  • Android (x86-64)

  • Android (mips)

  • Android (mips64)

  • Native

And 2 embedded ABI on ARM are barely tested and disabled.

Note: no differences are made between Windows platforms other than 32/64-bit (in particular no software API versioning). This is up to you to make your code portable or build with appropriate flags.

This is Free Software, under the license AGPL version 3.

If you appreciate this software, you are free to contact the author, or even support him.

Also you are more than welcome to propose patches: bugfixes, or new features, like support of more target environments, other shells than bash and zsh, etc. See the Contributing section below.


Crossroad is a typical python-style project, relying on Python 3.3 or above. See requirements.txt for additional Python 3 modules to install. You will also need either 7z or rpm2cpio installed.

To install from pypi, just run:

$ pip3 install crossroad

Or download from the archive:

$ ./ install


Crossroad does not need any particular cross-compilation tool to run at first, but it will tell you what you are missing to go further, and you won’t be able to enter a cross-compilation environment until this is installed.

List targets with:

$ crossroad --list-targets
crossroad, version 0.8
Available targets:
- w64                  Windows 64-bit
- android-mips         Generic Android/Bionic on MIPS
- android-arm          Generic Android/Bionic on ARM
- native               Native platform (x86_64 GNU/Linux)
- android-mips64       Generic Android/Bionic on MIPS64
- android-x86          Generic Android/Bionic on x86
- android-x86-64       Generic Android/Bionic on x86-64
- android-arm64        Generic Android/Bionic on ARM64

Uninstalled targets:
w32                  Windows 32-bit

See details about any target with `crossroad --help <TARGET>`.

In the above example, I can compile for Windows 64-bit, not 32-bit.

To get details about a target’s missing dependencies, for instance Windows 32-bit:

$ crossroad -h w32
w32: Setups a cross-compilation environment for Microsoft Windows operating systems (32-bit).

Not available. Some requirements are missing:
- i686-w64-mingw32-gcc [package "gcc-mingw-w64-i686"] (missing)
- i686-w64-mingw32-ld [package "binutils-mingw-w64-i686"]

It will return a list of required binaries that crossroad cannot find. If you actually have them, the most likely reason is that you should update your $PATH with the right location. In the above example, crossroad could find your MinGW linker, but not the compiler. It also informs you of a possible package name (your distribution may use a different name, but it would still give a useful hint for searching in your package manager).

Install the missing requirements and run crossroad again:

$ crossroad --list-targets
crossroad, version 0.8
Available targets:
- w64                  Windows 64-bit
- w32                  Windows 32-bit
[… more output …]
$ crossroad -h w32
w32: Setups a cross-compilation environment for Microsoft Windows operating systems (32-bit).

Installed language list:
- C
Uninstalled language list:
- Ada                 Common package name providing the feature: gnat-mingw-w64-i686
- C++                 Common package name providing the feature: g++-mingw-w64-i686
- OCaml               Common package name providing the feature: mingw-ocaml
- Objective C         Common package name providing the feature: gobjc++-mingw-w64-i686
- fortran             Common package name providing the feature: gfortran-mingw-w64-i686

You will notice that now w32 is available in your list of target, but also the specific help is more complete and will also tell you a list of possible languages that MinGW can handle if you installed additional packages.

Note: crossroad has actually been tested only with C and C++ projects. But I welcome any usage report with other languages.


The full usage is available as a manual. Once installed, it is available with man crossroad. The below preview presents the main usage examples.

From a command line, run:

$ crossroad w64 myproject

This will set up a Windows 64-bit cross-compilation environment called “myproject”.

Your prompt will also be slightly modified (only adding information. Whatever custom prompt hack you may have — for instance displaying information on a code repository — will be untouched) to show you are in your working cross-compilation environment.

Note: only `bash` and`zsh` are supported right now.

All necessary environment variables for successful builds, like PATH, LD_LIBRARY_PATH, etc., are set for you. Moreover the crossroad command is modified once in a cross-compilation environment. You can crossroad -h or crossroad help to see the new list of commands.

You are now ready to configure and compile any project for your target platform.

Note that several projects, even for a same target, won’t share any data. For instance if you have a GIMP and Blender both using libpng, you would have to install it in both environments. This is because you usually don’t want to mix data from various projects and keep a clean slate. Nevertheless if you wish a holdall project for a given target, you can also do so.

Example: autotools

Let’s imagine you want to compile any software with a typical GNU compilation system, for Windows 64-bit.

  1. First enter crossroad:

    $ crossroad w64 myproject

    Normally your shell prompt will be modified at this point.

  2. Enter your source code:

    $ cd /some/path/to/your/source/

    In a typical autotools project, you will have here access to a `configure` script, or with ways to build one, for instance by running an `` first.

  3. Configure your build:

    $ crossroad configure

    There is no need to add a –prefix, a –host, or a –build. These are automatically and appropriately set up for you.

    Of course you should add any other option as you would normally do to your `configure` step. For instance if your project had a libjpeg dependency that you want to deactivate:

    $ crossroad configure –without-libjpeg

    See the ./configure –help of a project for listing of its available options.

    Note: VPATH builds are also supported. You can run a configure from another directory this way:

    $ crossroad ../some/other/path/configure --without-libjpeg
  4. Here the configure may fail if you miss any dependency. You may install many dependencies easily through crossroad. Crossroad supports pre-built Windows packages from Fedora, openSUSE and msys2 projects. See the manual for more details on this feature as you can also search packages, get info, uninstall them and so on. Let’s say for instance that your project depends on glib. You could just run:

    $ crossroad install glib2

    Do this step as many times as necessary, until the configure step 3. succeeds. Then go to the next step.

  5. Build and install in the most common way possible:

    $ make
    $ make install
  6. Test:

    $ make check

    This one may seem weird, but actually if you have Wine installed and registered in binfmt_misc to execute win32 binaries, crossroad set up properly the Wine environment so that it can find the executables and DLLs you installed with make install. As a consequence, a make check might just work, even though there is no certainty, since this is not exactly the same as running on the native win32 platform. For the records, I have been able to run successful make check on projects as complicated as GIMP. Of course, a failed make check of Windows binaries in a GNU/Linux environment does not mean necessarily your build is a failure, because running win32 bin through wine will never be as ideal as running through an actual Windows OS (as you surely know).

  7. All done! Just exit your cross-compilation environment with ctrl-d or exit. To test your binaries on an actual Windows machine, crossroad provides 2 tools.

    1. Make a zip of your whole cross-compiled tree with the following:

      $ crossroad w64 myproject

      This will create a zip file that you can just move over to your test Windows OS. Then uncompress it, and set or update your PATH environment variable with the bin/ directory of this uncompressed prefix.

      Note: only zip format supported for the moment, since it is the most common compression format for Windows.

    2. If you are running Windows in a VM for instance, or are sharing partitions, you can just add a link in a shared directory. Just cd to the shared directory and run:

      $ crossroad --symlink w64 myproject

      This will create a symlink named crossroad-w64-myproject/ to the “myproject” project for the “w64” target. Since the directory is shared, it should be visible in Windows as a normal directory.

  8. Then run your app, and enjoy!

Note: this has been tested with success on many projects, cross-compiled for Windows: cairo, babl, GEGL, glib, GTK+, libpng, pango, freetype2, gdk-pixbuf, GIMP, Siril and many more.

Example: CMake

CMake uses toolchain files. Crossroad prepared one for you, so you don’t have to worry about it. Simply replace the step (3) of the autotools example with this command:

$ crossroad cmake .

A common cmake usage is to create a build/ directory and build there. You can do so with crossroad, of course:

$ mkdir build; cd build
$ crossroad cmake ..

Alternatively crossroad allows to use the curses interface of cmake:

$ crossroad ccmake .

The rest should be the same, with make && make install, and you can add any options to your build the usual way.

This has been tested with success on allegro 5, and Exiv2 libraries, cross-compiled for Windows.

Example: Meson

Meson uses toolchain files as well. Here again, Crossroad prepared them for you. Simply replace the step (3) of the autotools example with this command:

$ crossroad meson /path/to/source/ /path/to/build/

Now you can simply build and install:

$ ninja
$ ninja install

This has also been used with success on many programs, since Meson-using programs are increasing rapidly these days.

Example: SCons

A very basic support of scons build system has been added to crossroad, though there seems to be no actual standard there for cross-compilation. As a consequence, the support in crossroad is only following some common usage I saw in a few projects, but it may not work in your case.

Another issue is that scons does not even have standard for basic features like prefix path. So you have to use the environment variable $CROSSROAD_PREFIX and use it were appropriate yourself.

For instance, assuming your scons scripts use –prefix option, running scons through crossroad could be done this way:

$ crossroad scons install –prefix=$CROSSROAD_PREFIX

In any cases, scons is really not a recommended build system if you wish to have an easy cross-buildable project. If you don’t manage to cross-compile your project, rather than tweaking your SConscript files indefinitely, consider taking the time to port your project to autotools or meson.

Note that crossroad has been used on some scons-using projects back in the days, but I have not seen any more of them for a few years now. I am not sure of the current level of support.

Example: other

It has not been tested with any other compilation system up to now. So it all depends what they require for a cross-compilation. But since a crossroad environment prepares a bunch of environment variables for you, and helps you download dependencies, no doubt it will already make your life easier.

The configure, cmake, ccmake and meson subcommands are simple wrappers around respectively any ./configure script, cmake, ccmake and meson commands, adding some default options (which crossroad prepared) for successful cross-compilation.

For instance crossroad configure is the equivalent of running:

$ ./configure --prefix=$CROSSROAD_PREFIX --host=$CROSSROAD_HOST --build=$CROSSROAD_BUILD

And crossroad cmake /some/path is nothing more than:


Here is the list of useful, easy-to-remember and ready-to-use, environment variables, prepared by crossroad:











Do not modify these environment variables. They have been set-up for your builds to work successfully. If you modify these, you will get into trouble.

What it means though is that you can use these for other compilation systems. You can also use your crossroad prefix, even for systems which do not require any compilation. Let’s say for instance you wish to include a pure python project in your build. No per-platform compilation is needed, but you still want to carry all the files in the same prefix. So just run:

$ ./ install –prefix=$CROSSROAD_PREFIX

and so on.

Note: as you may have guessed, `$CROSSROAD_PREFIX` encapsulates your new cross-built project and all its dependencies. Though in most cases, you should not need to manually go there do anything, you still can (for instance to change software settings, etc.) with `cd $CROSSROAD_PREFIX`.

Special case: Wine

Some software have proved extremely hard to cross-compile, mostly because of weird custom build systems or strange designs. I had this case for Python, which even went as far as forbidding cross-builds for hosts they didn’t approve with specific configure tests. I have been therefore unable to crossbuild it. One solution could be to fix the build system (which I started to do for Python until I discovered bug reports with patches for specifically this, and opened for eons), or to install in Windows, and import the data (but then you lose the flexibility or building all on the same machine).

My other workaround has been to install with Wine. In my Python example, I have indeed been able to run the 32-bit installer (not the 64-bit one). When doing so in a crossroad environment, the data will be automatically installed under $CROSSROAD_PREFIX/wine/. Then you just have to update any necessary environment variable in order for your builds to discover any library/header if necessary (I don’t see how to do so automatically with a Windows tree being so “random”).



This tool has been originally created to cross-build GIMP (and its dependencies when needed) for Windows and this is still one my main usage. It has proven to be able to generically cross-build many dozens of projects and I am confident it should work pretty well for any Autotools, CMake or Meson project out there, unless they really use non-standard tricks (in which case, the most relevant course of action is often to send a patch to the upstream project in order to improve their build system). If you encounter standard cases which crossroad does not properly support, please send me a patch!


This target environment may look very weird since this tool was originally made for cross-compilation, but it has become my main usage of crossroad these days (I mean a daily usage for all my development).

Developers have all sort of tricks to build, install and test their software in non-standard prefixes by tweaking environment variables.

Sometimes you may have a unique place (set up in your .bashrc for instance), but then when you want to clean a single program without touching the rest, it can be a problem. Worse, you can’t install several versions of the same program. And last, but not least, installing low level libraries (glib, GTK, etc.) may end up breaking your user system as these variables are picked up by your desktop.

Other times, you make unique scripts to have these changes only in the current shell. This is very inconvenient and bug-prone as it requires one script per project with specific paths which you have to manage. You are bound to mess up at some point.

With the native environment, crossroad just take care of everything for me, sets up my environment variable, and manage my prefix. Say I want to build GIMP. I’d run:

$ crossroad native gimp

Now I am in a specifically generated environment for my GIMP build. Let’s build GIMP:

$ ccd -y gimp
$ crossroad meson /path/to/gimp && ninja && ninja install

I can now run GIMP from command line: gimp-2.99

Note that this binary is only visible when inside the crossroad environment. I could also install any dependency in the same environment, say an experimental version of GTK+ for instance, without fearing it to be picked up by my desktop, and potentially breaking it. As soon as I get out of this shell, GIMP or any custom code is not visible by the rest of the system.

Say now I want to create another GIMP build in another shell (with some patchs applied), I could create a new crossroad project:

$ crossroad native gimp-tests

Both environment live next to each other without interfering and I can now call one or another without messing up with files.

Now if I want to get rid of my gimp-tests project, I could just run:

$ crossroad --reset native gimp-tests

And the whole project and all its files would be just gone. Cleaning as simple as ever.


A few years back, I started to use crossroad to cross-compile C libraries for Android. It did pretty well and I could successfully run some test programs in Java using these C libraries. I have not worked much on this platform since then. It may just be broken now, I don’t know.

Still I leave this here in case it is helpful to someone. If you need Android support and some of the support in crossroad is not really optimal, I will gladly accept patches.


I had an early attempt to add arm-linux-gnu and arm-none-eabi (bare metal if not mistaken) but in the end didn’t include them because I never actually tested these for real projects (never had the occasion!) so this support is deactivated in released crossroad.

If anyone wants to play with it, please feel free to try the development version (edit the deactivated_platforms variable in before installing).


Crossroad relies on XDG standards. Right now it does not need any configuration file, but it will soon probably. And these will be in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/crossroad/ (defaults to $HOME/.config/crossroad/).

Cache is saved in $XDG_CACHE_HOME/crossroad/ and data in $XDG_DATA_HOME/crossroad/.

The only configuration right now is that in case you use a self-installed MinGW-w64 prefix of Windows libraries, if they are not in the same prefix as the MinGW-64 executables you run, you can set $CROSSROAD_CUSTOM_MINGW_W32_PREFIX and $CROSSROAD_CUSTOM_MINGW_W64_PREFIX respectively for your 32-bit and 64-bit installation of MinGW-w64.

Note: I have not used these 2 environment variables for years now and wonder if they are really useful. They may become deprecated in a close future.


Crossroad provides inline help with crossroad -h but also by installing a man page in section 1:

$ man crossroad


You can view the git branch on the web at: And clone it with:

$ git clone git://

Then send your git-format-ed patches by email to crossroad <at>

About the name

The name is a hommage to “cross road blues” by Robert Johnson, which spawned dozens, if not hundreds, of other versions by so many artists. I myself always play this song (or rather a version with modified lyrics adapted to my experience) in concerts.

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