Ubuntu – How to build Unity from source


I'd like to know how I would build Unity from source code in the current development release. Please cover the following topics:

  • Which packages are needed to compile Unity?
  • Where would I get the current source code?
  • What are the steps to actually configure and compile Unity?
  • Is it possible to safely run the latest version alongside the version from the repositories?

Best Answer

Building Unity from Source

In this guide you will build a separated version of Unity trunk (locally installed to your home directory), so you don't need to worry about corrupting the version from the Ubuntu repositories and you also won't need to get root permissions throughout the whole process (except for installing the build dependencies).

0. Installing build dependencies

You'll need to run this once to install all necessary build dependencies:

sudo apt-get install bzr cmake compiz-dev gnome-common libbamf3-dev libboost-dev \
libboost-serialization-dev libgconf2-dev libgdu-dev libglewmx1.6-dev \
libgnome-desktop-3-dev libibus-1.0-dev libindicator3-dev libjson-glib-dev \
libnotify-dev libnux-2.0-dev libpci-dev libsigc++-2.0-dev libunity-dev \
libunity-misc-dev libutouch-geis-dev libxxf86vm-dev libzeitgeist-dev xsltproc

If you have source code repositories (aka deb-src) enabled, you can instead use:

sudo apt-get build-dep unity

1. Preparing the environment

Replace SOURCE and PREFIX with the directories you'd like the source and build files to go. In this example I put both in my home directory:

export SOURCE=$HOME/source/unity
export PREFIX=$HOME/build/unity


mkdir -p "$PREFIX"
mkdir -p "$SOURCE"
cd "$SOURCE"

2. Building Nux

You will probably need to grab the latest version of Nux to get Unity trunk to compile:

bzr branch lp:nux
cd nux
./autogen.sh --disable-examples --disable-gputests --disable-tests --prefix="$PREFIX"
make -j4
make install
cd ..

Tip: Most modern desktops and laptops have several cores. You can greatly speed up the compilation by taking advantage of this. The make command has build-in support for this which you can activate using the -jN switch where N is the number of jobs to run in parallel. A good rule of thumb is to run 2 times the number of cores on your processor. Thus, on a normal dual core computer you should run make -j4 to minimize the compilation time.

3. Building Unity

Now grab the latest Unity code and build it:

bzr branch lp:unity
cd unity
mkdir build
cd build
make -j4
make install

That's it, log out and back in again and you should be running the latest Unity. Alternatively, you can run

setsid $PREFIX/bin/unity

4. Updating

Make sure to prepare the environment like described in step 1, then simply enter both top-level directories nux and unity, run bzr pull, rebuild, and reinstall.

I suggest removing and recreating the build directory in the unity directory, to make sure no old files are messing with your build.

5. Removing Unity

Remove the three directories $SOURCE, $PREFIX and ~/.compiz-1.

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