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OpenBSD build guide

(updated for OpenBSD 6.2)

This guide describes how to build starwelsd and command-line utilities on OpenBSD.

OpenBSD is most commonly used as a server OS, so this guide does not contain instructions for building the GUI.


Run the following as root to install the base dependencies for building:

pkg_add git gmake libevent libtool
pkg_add autoconf # (select highest version, e.g. 2.69)
pkg_add automake # (select highest version, e.g. 1.15)
pkg_add python # (select highest version, e.g. 3.6)
pkg_add boost

git clone

See for a complete overview.

Important: From OpenBSD 6.2 onwards a C++11-supporting clang compiler is part of the base image, and while building it is necessary to make sure that this compiler is used and not ancient g++ 4.2.1. This is done by appending CC=cc CXX=c++ to configuration commands. Mixing different compilers within the same executable will result in linker errors.

Building BerkeleyDB

BerkeleyDB is only necessary for the wallet functionality. To skip this, pass --disable-wallet to ./configure and skip to the next section.

It is recommended to use Berkeley DB 4.8. You cannot use the BerkeleyDB library from ports, for the same reason as boost above (g++/libstd++ incompatibility). If you have to build it yourself, you can use the installation script included in contrib/ like so

./contrib/ `pwd` CC=cc CXX=c++

from the root of the repository. Then set BDB_PREFIX for the next section:

export BDB_PREFIX="$PWD/db4"

Building Starwels

Important: use gmake, not make. The non-GNU make will exit with a horrible error.


export AUTOCONF_VERSION=2.69 # replace this with the autoconf version that you installed
export AUTOMAKE_VERSION=1.15 # replace this with the automake version that you installed

Make sure BDB_PREFIX is set to the appropriate path from the above steps.

To configure with wallet:

./configure --with-gui=no CC=cc CXX=c++ \
    BDB_LIBS="-L${BDB_PREFIX}/lib -ldb_cxx-4.8" BDB_CFLAGS="-I${BDB_PREFIX}/include"

To configure without wallet:

./configure --disable-wallet --with-gui=no CC=cc CXX=c++

Build and run the tests:

gmake # use -jX here for parallelism
gmake check

Resource limits

If the build runs into out-of-memory errors, the instructions in this section might help.

The standard ulimit restrictions in OpenBSD are very strict:

data(kbytes)         1572864

This, unfortunately, in some cases not enough to compile some .cpp files in the project, (see issue #6658). If your user is in the staff group the limit can be raised with:

ulimit -d 3000000

The change will only affect the current shell and processes spawned by it. To make the change system-wide, change datasize-cur and datasize-max in /etc/login.conf, and reboot.