08 May 2015

Icecream lets you use the computing power of nearby computers to speed up your compilation. At the end of this tutorial, your build time should go down substantially (assuming the machines that will be helping you compile are fast and close to you on the network). This guide is specific to Chromium, but you can use Icecream to compile other projects too.

This guide expects that you can already compile Chromium locally without Icecream, that somebody else already set up the icecc scheduler, your colleagues are using it and you want to join them. I’m personally using Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca (based on Ubuntu Trusty), but this shouldn’t matter to you.

Setting up Icecream

$ sudo apt-get install icecc

Go to /etc/icecc.conf and edit ICECC_NETNAME to the network name that was set up on the scheduler.

$ sudo service iceccd restart

Now run the monitoring GUI:

$ icemon -n ICECC_NETNAME  # change the netname to yours

You should be able to see other servers on the network, including your own host name. If you don’t, check these things:

  1. Are you are using the correct network name (same as set on the server with the scheduler)?
  2. Is iceccd running? Try service iceccd status.
  3. Is your computer is on the same network as the scheduler? Can you ping it? Can you connect to it using the Icecream port (8765 by default)? Try running telnet <scheduler_ip> 8765.

Once you have that, configure it to be used whenever the compiler gets called. Add icecc binaries to the beginning of your path (also add it to your .bashrc file):

$ export PATH="/usr/lib/icecc/bin:$PATH"
$ which gcc
$ which g++

If your results are different, check if the directory /usr/lib/icecc/bin exists. You might have noticed that a clang binary isn’t present in this directory - don’t worry, I’ll get to that later.

Chromium and Icecream without Clang

Clang takes some extra steps to set up, so let’s get it running with gcc first (you can skip this section it if you want).

$ export GYP_DEFINES="$GYP_DEFINES clang=0 linux_use_debug_fission=0 \

You have to disable debug fission because it’s not supported in Icecream and disable the usage of bundled binutils because the -S option is not available in Icecream. Look at the Chromium documentation for more info. Now try to compile Chromium (I’m going to assume it’s located in ~/chromium/ for the rest of the tutorial):

$ cd ~/chromium/src  # or wherever your source is
$ ninja -C out/Release -t clean
$ gclient runhooks
$ ninja -j 100 -C out/Release chrome

Now if you open icemon -n ICECC_NETNAME, you should see jobs leaving from your node and being handled on other nodes. If you open the star view (View->Mode->Star view), there should be an occasional dotted line from your node (meaning that jobs are being sent out) to the scheduler in the center, and a full line going to some of the other nodes (jobs being received).

The number of jobs (I use 100) depends on how many CPUs are available on your network. Try experimenting with them to see which number is fastest for you.

Adding Clang to the mix

There is extra setup involved here, since Chromium uses its own patched version of Clang and Icecream didn’t support Clang until recently.

First, create a Clang toolchain from the patched Chromium version:

$ /usr/lib/icecc/icecc-create-env --clang \
  ~/chromium/src/third_party/llvm-build/Release+Asserts/bin/clang \

On the list line, it should write something like creating dfc1acedfe857c45ce7b.tar.gz. Rename it to clang.tar.gz and put it into your chromium source tree (~/chromium/src/). Set the ICECC_VERSION variable and also put it into your ~/.bashrc.

$ export ICECC_VERSION=$HOME/chromium/src/clang.tar.gz  # change to where your file is

The icecc directory doesn’t contain clang by default, you have to add it so that Clang gets redirected trough Icecream.

$ cd /usr/lib/icecc/bin
$ sudo ln -s /usr/bin/icecc ./clang
$ sudo ln -s /usr/bin/icecc ./clang++

Check with ls -l if all the files in /usr/lib/icecc/bin link to the same icecc executable.

Add the patched Chromium version of the Clang executable to your PATH right after Icecream (change the Chromium source location if it’s different for you):

 $ export PATH="/usr/lib/icecc/bin:$HOME/chromium/src/third_party/llvm-build/Release+Asserts/bin/:$PATH"

Set the Chromium GYP_DEFINES again (remove the previous definitions I recommended):

$ export GYP_DEFINES="$GYP_DEFINES clang=1 \
  make_clang_dir=/usr/lib/icecc clang_use_chrome_plugins=0 \
  linux_use_debug_fission=0 linux_use_bundled_binutils=0"

I also recommend setting the environment variable ICECC_CLANG_REMOTE_CPP to true, which will make Icecream run the C preprocessor on the remote nodes and only pre-process the #include directives locally. Without this, you’d get a lot of false positive warnings from Clang, because it would only see the files with expanded macros and report that, for example, you are using unnecessary double parenthesis.


Clean your Chromium build and rebuild.

$ ninja -C out/Release -t clean
$ gclient runhooks
$ ninja -j 100 -C out/Release chrome

Check again with the monitoring GUI if you can see the compiling tasks being sent to other nodes. For more options, look at icecc --help.