I recently started a new project using my Arduino that's been collecting dust for a while. Along with the physical board collecting dust, so has my copy of avr-gcc and the Arduino libraries. I can manage updating avr-gcc, but I can't remember how I compiled the Arduino libraries. With the Arduino source, there is listed source files and such, but no makefile (that I can see) for actually building the library. I don't care about building the IDE, I just want the library in binary format and the header files that I'll need. Is there any documentation or such for doing this?

I don't want to use the Arduino IDE, I prefer using my own text editor and a makefile.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This may be helpful to you. \$\endgroup\$
    – arminb
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 2:26
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @arminb bleaklow.com/2010/06/04/a_makefile_for_arduino_sketches.html would be more useful than that. Your link just gives a way to build sketches from the command line, not a way to build the arduino library. Irrelevant either way though because I've answered my own question \$\endgroup\$
    – Earlz
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ hardwarefun.com/tutorials/… \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 8:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jippie I looked at that(not when asked, but recently when revisiting this) but was put off by the fact that you have to have the Arduino IDE installed. Kind of defeats the purpose \$\endgroup\$
    – Earlz
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 9:01

3 Answers 3


I have created a little project with a custom build system (using Ruby) that makes this pretty easy without having to install the Arduino IDE. Basically, it uses a template Makefile, and a ruby script to make compiling the Arduino libraries extremely easy. You can see it at https://github.com/Earlz/make-wiring

However, I'm leaving the old answer here for information on rolling your own. It's quite cumbersome and annoying though:


  1. Download a copy of the Arduino IDE source code
  2. Copy the contents of hardware/arduino/cores/arduino to a new directory I'll refer to as arduino_build
  3. Copy the pins_arduino.h file from whichever Arduino variant is yours from hardware/arduino/variants (check boards.txt if you're not sure) to arduino_build
  4. Add this makefile to arduino_build:


#BSD licensed, see http://lastyearswishes.com/static/Makefile for full license

HDRS = Arduino.h binary.h Client.h HardwareSerial.h IPAddress.h new.h pins_arduino.h Platform.h Printable.h Print.h \
    Server.h Stream.h Udp.h USBAPI.h USBCore.h USBDesc.h WCharacter.h wiring_private.h WString.h

OBJS = WInterrupts.o wiring_analog.o wiring.o wiring_digital.o wiring_pulse.o wiring_shift.o CDC.o HardwareSerial.o \
    HID.o IPAddress.o main.o new.o Print.o Stream.o Tone.o USBCore.o WMath.o WString.o

#may need to adjust -mmcu if you have an older atmega168
#may also need to adjust F_CPU if your clock isn't set to 16Mhz
CFLAGS = -I./ -std=gnu99  -DF_CPU=16000000UL -Os -mmcu=atmega328p
CPPFLAGS = -I./ -DF_CPU=16000000UL -Os -mmcu=atmega328p


default: libarduino.a

libarduino.a:   ${OBJS}
    ${AR} crs libarduino.a $(OBJS)

.c.o: ${HDRS}
    ${CC} ${CFLAGS} -c $*.c

.cpp.o: ${HDRS}
    ${CPP} ${CPPFLAGS} -c $*.cpp

    rm -f ${OBJS} core a.out errs

install: libarduino.a
    mkdir -p ${PREFIX}/lib
    mkdir -p ${PREFIX}/include
    cp *.h ${PREFIX}/include
    cp *.a ${PREFIX}/lib

And then just run

make install PREFIX=/usr/arduino (or whatever)

And then to make use of the compiled libraries and such you can use a simple makefile like this:

    avr-g++ -L/usr/arduino/lib -I/usr/arduino/include -Wall -DF_CPU=16000000UL -Os -mmcu=atmega328p -o main.elf main.c -larduino
    avr-objcopy -O ihex -R .eeprom main.elf out.hex
    avrdude -c arduino -p m328p -b 57600 -P /dev/ttyUSB0 -U flash:w:out.hex

all: default upload

Also, if you try to compile the libraries in libraries/ you'll get a linker error if you don't do things in the right order. For instance, I had to do this to use SoftwareSerial:

    avr-g++ -L/usr/arduino/lib -I/usr/arduino/include -Wall -DF_CPU=16000000UL -Os -mmcu=atmega328p -o main.elf main.c -lSoftwareSerial -larduino

The -larduino must be the last library on the command line

Anyway, this was a pretty easy way to compile it for me. As future versions of the Ardunio come out, this makefile should be fairly future-proof, requiring just a few modifications to OBJS and HDRS. Also, this makefile should work with both BSD make and GNU make

See also a slightly modified version of this answer on my blog with an already compiled binary of the library (compiled using the "standard" pins_arduino.h).

** EDIT **

I found that adding the following compiler optimization flags to both the library building Makefile and each individual project Makefile greatly reduces the size of the final compiled binary. This makes the final binary size comparable to that of the IDE.

-Wl,--gc-sections -ffunction-sections  -fdata-sections  


So, for the library build makefile:

CFLAGS = -I./ -std=gnu99  -DF_CPU=16000000UL -Os -Wl,--gc-sections -ffunction-sections  -fdata-sections -mmcu=atmega328p
CPPFLAGS = -I./ -DF_CPU=16000000UL -Os -Wl,--gc-sections -ffunction-sections  -fdata-sections -mmcu=atmega328p

and, for each project makefile:

avr-g++ -L/usr/arduino/lib -I/usr/arduino/include -Wall -DF_CPU=16000000UL -Os -Wl,--gc-sections -ffunction-sections  -fdata-sections -mmcu=atmega328p -o main.elf main.c -larduino


Ref: http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php?topic=153186.0


If you're willing to use the Arduino IDE once (or once per device-type), it's the easiest way to build a static library, as well as getting the library sources. After that you can use whatever development tools suit you.

This Arduino article (written for users moving to the Eclipse IDE) describes building the Arduino library by compiling a sketch with the Arduino IDE and retrieving the library from Arduino's temporary directory. Scroll down about 1/4 of the page to the section

  1. Copying the library from an Arduino IDE project

If you just need a build system that can also pilot your microcontroller programmer, platformio is your friend.


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