Compiling LineageOS on Linux - quick 'n' dirty

Updated: 2019-11-06

This is a quick summary on how to compile an existing LineageOS tree on Linux. LineageOS is one of the bigger Android distributions out there, so I'll provide instructions based on their tree, although most projects handle a very similar workflow, often being based on AOSP. LineageOS offers multiple features not found in stock AOSP, like built-in profile support, and further customisation options. You can find a rather exhaustive list in its Wikipedia entry. Keep in mind you'll need about 100 GiB of free space to build a modern Android. If you'd like to use ccache, add an extra 50 GiB.


You'll need a Java Development Kit (JDK) installed along with Android's fastboot and adb tools. On Debian, that looks like this:

$ sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot openjdk-8-jdk

Next, you'll need quite a few libraries and headers to complement what might already be on your system, depending on what you use it for, so this list is not exhaustive - you might need to expand it as you go (and compilation breaks because of missing tools; the build process will tell you).

$ sudo apt-get install sudo apt-get install bc bison build-essential ccache curl flex g++-multilib gcc-multilib git gnupg gperf imagemagick lib32ncurses5-dev lib32readline-dev lib32z1-dev libesd0-dev liblz4-tool libncurses5-dev libsdl1.2-dev libssl-dev libwxgtk3.0-dev libxml2 libxml2-utils lzop pngcrush rsync schedtool squashfs-tools xsltproc zip zlib1g-dev

You'll need Google's repo script to handle the huge codebase (it is a wrapper script that interfaces with git, amongst others). Grab it from Google itself, and drop it in your folder where you keep scripts etc. Make it executable, and, to make things easier on yourself, you can also add it to your PATH.

$ cd ~/path/to/scripts/
$ wget
$ chmod +x repo
$ export PATH="$PATH:/home/youruser/path/to/scripts/"

If you want to grab the necessary blobs from a LineageOS installation image instead of pulling them from the device itself (see further down), you'll need the sdat2img script as well:

$ git clone ~/path/to/scripts/sdat2img/

Preparing the codebase while keeping a minimal footprint

Next we'll grab the actual code and trim the fat.

Setting up and syncing your local checkout

You probably don't need the whole history (backlog) that comes with Android, so use --depth 1. On LineageOS 14.1, this shaves off about 12 GiB, on a 15.1 tree you'd save 15 GB. The command below will check out LineageOS (forked from CyanogenMod) 14.1.

$ mkdir ~/code/lineage-14.1
$ cd ~/code/lineage-14.1
$ repo init --depth 1 -u -b cm-14.1

For LineageOS 15 and higher, use lineage-$version as your branch name, e.g.:

$ repo init --depth 1 -u -b lineage-15.1

Repo init won't take long, the real work is done by syncing the code. Depending on your internet connection, this might take quite a bit (half an hour or longer). While repo init is a one-time operation, synchronising the code is something you should do every time you want to build off the latest codebase.

$ repo sync

repo sync will use four threads (-j4) by default; you can override this if you'd like.

Warning: If you need to revert specific commits, be aware doing a 'shallow' checkout will break this functionality. You will need the full backlog for this! As an alternative, you can download the patch from the LineageOS Gerrit and revert it with patch -R, in which case you have no need for git history to be present in your local checkout.

Grabbing the kernel settings for your device

Once you're done syncing, you can pull in the kernel settings. These are device-dependent. The breakfast command will add the necessary repositories to .repo/local_manifests/roomservice.xml and sync them. For the HTC One (M7) - codename m7 - e.g. it would look like this:

$ source build/
$ breakfast m7

If you are building for a device that LineageOS does not support officially, you need to add them manually. The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, for example, has never seen any official releases with Lineage, but had unofficial builds available through XDA. You can add additional roomservice.xml files to service multiple devices - just make sure there are no duplicate entries. Adding unofficial repositories is straightforward; you strip the Github URL and use the path that follows; e.g. to use the repository of one of the main developers for the Z3 Compact, your roomservice.xml entry would look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <project name="tomascus/android_device_sony_z3c" path="device/sony/z3c" remote="github" />

The Github repository pulled in would be If you need a specific branch and not just master, specify that one with revision. E.g. for the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact:

<project name="derfelot/android_kernel_sony_msm8998" path="kernel/sony/msm8998" remote="github" revision="lineage-15.1_updates" />

This will pull in Derf Elot's updated kernel tree for the XZ1 Compact - the lineage-15.1_updates branch.

Removing projects you don't need

The Android codebase is gigantic and chances are you'll pull in stuff you do not need at all for your device. You can add projects you don't need to the .repo/local_manifests/trim.xml file (create it if it does not exist). When building on Linux, e.g., you don't need any OS X stuff:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <remove-project name="LineageOS/android_prebuilts_gcc_darwin-x86_aarch64_aarch64-linux-android-4.9" />
  <remove-project name="LineageOS/android_prebuilts_gcc_darwin-x86_arm_arm-linux-androideabi-4.9" />
  <remove-project name="LineageOS/android_prebuilts_gcc_darwin-x86_x86_x86_64-linux-android-4.9" />
  <remove-project name="LineageOS/android_prebuilts_gcc_linux-x86_aarch64_aarch64-linux-android-4.9" />
  <remove-project name="platform/prebuilts/clang/darwin-x86/host/3.6" />
  <remove-project name="platform/prebuilts/clang/host/darwin-x86" />
  <remove-project name="platform/prebuilts/gcc/darwin-x86/arm/arm-eabi-4.8" />
  <remove-project name="platform/prebuilts/gcc/darwin-x86/host/i686-apple-darwin-4.2.1" />
  <remove-project name="platform/prebuilts/gcc/linux-x86/host/x86_64-w64-mingw32-4.8" />
  <remove-project name="platform/prebuilts/gdb/darwin-x86" />

Make sure to sync before stripping projects.

Cherry-picking patches and patch sets

The repopick command allows you to pick patches or patch sets sitting in the LineageOS review process. You can find more info on the LineageOS wiki page. For a single patch, you'd use the number referring to the proposed commit on

$ source build/
$ repopick 288870

For a patch set (comes in especially handy with the monthly ASB patches) you'd use the topic, e.g. for August's security patches:

$ repopick -t n_asb_08-2018

The ASB updates might require you to forcibly update a few repos - e.g. because LineageOS starts tracking their own tree instead of the abandoned upstream one. The ASB patch set will break until you do this. Look for messages like 'track our own libxml2' (like this patch being part of the September 2018 set). Those indicate LineageOS switches from upstream AOSP repos to their own. That means the repo path needs to be adjusted, which is done in android/default.xml. Apply these patches first, then forcibly resync the specific repo (not your whole tree):

$ reposync --force-sync external/libxml2 external/neven

If you tell repopick to apply the patch set again after that, it should skip the ones that were already applied and happily apply the ones that depend on the new repos. If that still doesn't work, you might need to copy android/default.xml to .repo/manifests/default.xml manually, and force sync the affected repositories once more.

Adding binary blobs

There are three ways to go about this. The first being the easiest, that's what I'll cover; the remaining options are thoroughly explained on the LineageOS wiki.

If you pick option two, when you encounter files with a .br suffix (e.g., these are brotli archives and you'll need to install brotli through your package manager to uncompress them. This format seems to be used in Android 9 'Pie' (LineageOS 16.0) builds.

For some devices, especially with ones supporting Treble, you might need to extract blobs from the manufacturer's firmware as newer updates (linked to the Android Security Bulletins) get released. For the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, for example, you might need to do this with every ASB bump. For a lot of Sony smartphones, you'll need tools like unsin and - if you'd be building TWRP as well - Android Image Kitchen (AIK) to unpack the boot image.

Pulling blobs from TheMuppets Github repository

All you need to do is add the repo to your roomservice.xml. You'll need to specify the manufacturer (vendor). For the HTC One, e.g. it would look like this:

<project name="TheMuppets/proprietary_vendor_htc" path="vendor/htc" remote="github" />

After adding it, run repo sync again. If you still find you're missing some stuff, you might want to pull them from an existing LineageOS zip.

Compiling Android itself

At this point, you are finally ready to put your computer to work. If you plan on doing more than one build, you should use ccache. Ccache might claim a lot of space, and will do so by default in your $HOME directory, regardless of where you are actually storing and compiling the Android code; make sure to have enough free space there. You can alter its settings to keep the cache elsewhere, though. The commands below will allow ccache to claim up to 50 GiB. The Android buildroot will not use your distribution's ccache binary, but its own prebuilt one.

$ export USE_CCACHE=1
$ ./prebuilts/misc/linux-x86/ccache/ccache -M 50G

The LineageOS 14.1 toolchain needs to be reconfigured to avoid out of memory (OOM) errors:

$ export ANDROID_JACK_VM_ARGS="-Dfile.encoding=UTF-8 -XX:+TieredCompilation -Xmx4G"

If you have less than 2 GB per core (e.g. I have an octocore with SMT and 16 GB RAM), you should consider temporarily disabling SMT. Android seems to use ninja, which happily sets N+2 worker threads. That means, with the OS seeing 16 cores (8 physical ones and 8 logical ones on my Ryzen 7 1800X), it will launch a total of 18 (!) processes. This can lead to memory starvation and ultimately your build will break. Disabling the logical cores can be done dynamically, with a script like this:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

# Disable SMT (AMD) or HT (Intel) and re-enable if so desired.
# Zie

# Populate the list of logical cores. AMD and Intel seem to do things differently.
if [ ! -f /tmp/logical-cores ]
    if grep -q GenuineIntel /proc/cpuinfo
        echo ":: Running on Intel."
        cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/topology/thread_siblings_list | awk -F, '!seen[$0]++ {print $2}' | sort -n > /tmp/logical-cores
    elif grep -q AuthenticAMD /proc/cpuinfo
        echo ":: Running on AMD."
        cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/topology/thread_siblings_list | awk -F- '!seen[$0]++ {print $2}' | sort -n > /tmp/logical-cores

LOGICAL_CORES="$(cat /tmp/logical-cores)"

# Disable or enable at will.
case "$1" in
        echo -e ":: SMT: disabling logical cores... \n"
        for i in ${LOGICAL_CORES[@]}
            do echo 0 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu$i/online
        echo -e ":: Done. \n"
        # While disabling works fine with sudo enabling seems to need some hoops. See
        echo -e ":: SMT: re-enabling logical cores... \n"
        for i in ${LOGICAL_CORES[@]}
            do echo 1 | sudo tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu$i/online
            echo -e ":: Done. \n"
        echo -e ":: This script takes two arguments: enable or disable."
        exit 0

With the final bits set, you can now compile for your device:

$ croot
$ brunch m7

When compilation is done (this might take half an hour or more, even on modern, heavier systems), grab the binaries from the $OUT directory:

$ ls $OUT/**

That's it; happy flashing. To give you an idea of build times, on my desktop (Ryzen 7 1800X, 16 GB RAM, Samsung 970 1 TB NVMe), ccache limited to 50 GB, using 16 threads, builds complete within the following timeframes. Typically, a newer Android version needs more time to build.

Android Nougat (7.1.2, LineageOS 14.1)

  • HTC One (M7): < 15 minutes
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact: < 15 minutes

Android Oreo (8.1.0, LineageOS 15.1)

  • Asus Nexus 7 WiFi (2013): < 20 minutes
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact: < 25 minutes

These build times are not clean builds; they leverage ccache. A clean, first build takes longer.