Getting started with ndn-cxx

Supported platforms

ndn-cxx uses continuous integration and has been tested on the following platforms:

  • Ubuntu 14.04 (64-bit)
  • Ubuntu 16.04 (64-bit and 32-bit)
  • Ubuntu 17.10 (64-bit)
  • OS X 10.11
  • macOS 10.12
  • macOS 10.13

ndn-cxx is known to work on the following platforms, although they are not officially supported:

  • Fedora >= 20
  • CentOS >= 6.2
  • Gentoo Linux
  • FreeBSD >= 10.0
  • Raspbian >= 3.12



  • python >= 2.6
  • libsqlite3
  • OpenSSL >= 1.0.1
  • pkg-config
  • Boost libraries >= 1.54
  • OSX Security framework (on OSX/macOS platform only)

Following are the detailed steps for each platform to install the compiler, all necessary development tools and libraries, and ndn-cxx prerequisites.

  • OS X / macOS

    Install Xcode from AppStore or at least Command Line Tools (xcode-select --install)

    • When using MacPorts

      In a terminal, enter:

      sudo port install pkgconfig boost sqlite3 openssl
    • When using Homebrew

      In a terminal, enter:

      brew install boost openssl pkg-config


    If a major OS upgrade is performed after installing dependencies with MacPorts or Homebrew, remember to reinstall all packages.

  • Ubuntu

    In a terminal, enter:

    sudo apt-get install build-essential libsqlite3-dev libboost-all-dev libssl-dev
  • Fedora

    In a terminal, enter:

    sudo yum install gcc-g++ git
    sudo yum install sqlite-devel boost-devel openssl-devel


To build tutorials, manpages, and API documentation the following dependencies need to be installed:

  • doxygen
  • graphviz
  • python-sphinx and sphinx extensions sphinxcontrib-doxylink, sphinxcontrib-googleanalytics

The following lists steps for common platforms to install these prerequisites:

  • On OS X / macOS with MacPorts:

    sudo port install doxygen graphviz py27-sphinx sphinx_select
    sudo port select sphinx py27-sphinx
    # Install sphinx extensions
    sudo port install py27-pip
    sudo port select pip pip27
    sudo pip install sphinxcontrib-doxylink sphinxcontrib-googleanalytics
  • On Ubuntu:

    sudo apt-get install doxygen graphviz python-sphinx python-pip
    sudo pip install sphinxcontrib-doxylink sphinxcontrib-googleanalytics
  • On Fedora:

    sudo yum install doxygen graphviz python-sphinx
    sudo pip install sphinxcontrib-doxylink sphinxcontrib-googleanalytics


(These are instructions to build ndn-cxx. To do development of ndn-cxx code and update the build system, see Development.)

To build in a terminal, change directory to the ndn-cxx root. Enter:

./waf configure
sudo ./waf install

By default, only the shared version of ndn-cxx library is built. To build the static library, use --enable-static option for ./waf configure command. For example:

./waf configure --enable-static

To disable build of the shared library and build only the static library, use additional --disable-shared option. Note that at least one version of the library needs to be enabled.

./waf configure --enable-static --disable-shared

After the shared library is built and installed, some systems require additional actions.

  • on Linux:

    sudo ldconfig
  • on FreeBSD:

    sudo ldconfig -m


When library is installed in a non-standard path (in general: not in /usr/lib or /usr/local/lib; on some Linux distros including Fedora: not in /usr/lib), additional actions may be necessary.

The installation path should be added to /etc/ (or in /etc/ before running sudo ldconfig. For example:

echo /usr/local/lib | sudo tee /etc/

Alternatively, LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable should be set to the location of the library:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib

This builds and installs the following items:

  • <LIBPATH>/libndn-cxx.a: static NDN C++ library (if enabled)
  • <LIBPATH>/, <LIBPATH>/<VERSION> (on Linux), <LIBPATH>/libndn-cxx.dylib, <LIBPATH>/libndn-cxx.<VERSION>.dylib (on OS X): shared NDN C++ library (if enabled)
  • <LIBPATH>/pkgconfig/libndn-cxx.pc: pkgconfig file storing all neccessary flags to build against the library. For example, if pkgconfig or pkgconf package is installed and PKG_CONFIG_PATH is configured properly (or <LIBPATH>/pkgconfig is a default path), pkgconfig --libs --clflags libndn-cxx will return all necessary compile and link flags for the library.
  • <BINPATH>/ndnsec: tool to manage NDN keys and certificates
  • <BINPATH>/ndnsec-*: convenience scripts for ndnsec tools

If configured with tests: ./waf configure --with-tests), the above commands will also produce:

  • build/unit-tests: A unit test binary for the library

1.5GB available memory per CPU core is necessary for efficient compilation. On a multi-core machine with less than 1.5GB available memory per CPU core, limit the objects being compiled in parallel with ./waf -jN where N is the amount of available memory divided by 1.5GB (eg. ./waf -j1 for 1.5GB memory), which could usually avoid memory thrashing and result in faster compilation.

Build with examples

By default, examples in examples/ are not build. To enable them, use --with-examples configure option:

./waf configure --with-examples
sudo ./waf install

Additional step:

  • on Linux:

    sudo ldconfig
  • on FreeBSD:

    sudo ldconfig -m

To run examples:

# trivial producer app

# trivial consumer app

# trivial consumer app with timers

If you want to test out a sample application, just create a .cpp file in examples/ folder and it will be compiled on the next run on ./waf. For example:

cp examples/consumer.cpp examples/my-new-consumer-app.cpp
sudo ./waf install

Debug symbols

The default compiler flags enable debug symbols to be included in binaries (i.e., -g flag for ./waf configure and -g3 for ./waf configure --debug). This potentially allows more meaningful debugging information if your application crashes.

If it is undesirable, default flags can be easily overridden:

CXXFLAGS="-O2" ./waf configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc
sudo ./waf install

Additional step:

  • on Linux:

    sudo ldconfig
  • on FreeBSD:

    sudo ldconfig -m


ndn-cxx tutorials and API documentation can be built using the following commands:

# Full set of documentation (tutorials + API) in build/docs
./waf docs

# Only tutorials in `build/docs`
./waf sphinx

# Only API docs in `build/docs/doxygen`
./waf doxgyen

Manpages are automatically created and installed during the normal build process (e.g., during ./waf and ./waf install), if python-sphinx module is detected during ./waf configure stage. By default, manpages are installed into ${PREFIX}/share/man (where default value for PREFIX is /usr/local). This location can be changed during ./waf configure stage using --prefix, --datarootdir, or --mandir options.

For more details, refer to ./waf --help.

Development Build

The following is the suggested configure commands for development build.

./waf configure --debug --with-tests
sudo ./waf install

Additional step:

  • on Linux:

    sudo ldconfig
  • on FreeBSD:

    sudo ldconfig -m

In the development build all compiler optimizations are disabled by default and all warnings are treated as error. The default behavior can be overridden by setting CXXFLAGS environment variable before running ./waf configure:

CXXFLAGS="-O1 -g3" ./waf configure --debug --with-tests

Customize Compiler

To choose a custom C++ compiler for building ndn-cxx, set CXX environment variable to point to the compiler binary. For example, to build with clang on Linux, use the following:

CXX=clang++ ./waf configure