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OpenBSD build guide

(updated for OpenBSD 5.9)

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

As OpenBSD is most common as a server OS, we will not bother with the GUI.


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

pkg_add gmake libtool libevent
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. 3.5)

The default C++ compiler that comes with OpenBSD 5.9 is g++ 4.2. This version is old (from 2007), and is not able to compile the current version of Bitcoin Core, primarily as it has no C++11 support, but even before there were issues. So here we will be installing a newer compiler.


You can install a newer version of gcc with:

pkg_add g++ # (select newest 4.x version, e.g. 4.9.3)

This compiler will not overwrite the system compiler, it will be installed as egcc and eg++ in /usr/local/bin.

Building boost

Do not use pkg_add boost! The boost version installed thus is compiled using the g++ compiler not eg++, which will result in a conflict between /usr/local/lib/ and /usr/lib/, resulting in a test crash:

test_bitcoin:/usr/lib/ /usr/local/lib/ : WARNING: symbol(_ZN11__gnu_debug17_S_debug_me ssagesE) size mismatch, relink your program
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

This makes it necessary to build boost, or at least the parts used by Bitcoin Core, manually:

# Pick some path to install boost to, here we create a directory within the bitcoin directory
mkdir -p $BOOST_PREFIX

# Fetch the source and verify that it is not tampered with
curl -o boost_1_61_0.tar.bz2
echo 'a547bd06c2fd9a71ba1d169d9cf0339da7ebf4753849a8f7d6fdb8feee99b640  boost_1_61_0.tar.bz2' | sha256 -c
# MUST output: (SHA256) boost_1_61_0.tar.bz2: OK
tar -xjf boost_1_61_0.tar.bz2

# Boost 1.61 needs one small patch for OpenBSD
cd boost_1_61_0
# Also here:
patch -p0 < /usr/ports/devel/boost/patches/patch-boost_test_impl_execution_monitor_ipp

# Build w/ minimum configuration necessary for bitcoin
echo 'using gcc : : eg++ : <cxxflags>"-fvisibility=hidden -fPIC" <linkflags>"" <archiver>"ar" <striper>"strip"  <ranlib>"ranlib" <rc>"" : ;' > user-config.jam
config_opts="runtime-link=shared threadapi=pthread threading=multi link=static variant=release --layout=tagged --build-type=complete --user-config=user-config.jam -sNO_BZIP2=1"
./ --without-icu --with-libraries=chrono,filesystem,program_options,system,thread,test
./b2 -d2 -j2 -d1 ${config_opts} --prefix=${BOOST_PREFIX} stage
./b2 -d0 -j4 ${config_opts} --prefix=${BOOST_PREFIX} install

Building BerkeleyDB

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

See “Berkeley DB” in for instructions on how to build BerkeleyDB 4.8. You cannot use the BerkeleyDB library from ports, for the same reason as boost above (g++/libstd++ incompatibility).

# Pick some path to install BDB to, here we create a directory within the bitcoin directory
mkdir -p $BDB_PREFIX

# Fetch the source and verify that it is not tampered with
curl -o db-4.8.30.NC.tar.gz ''
echo '12edc0df75bf9abd7f82f821795bcee50f42cb2e5f76a6a281b85732798364ef  db-4.8.30.NC.tar.gz' | sha256 -c
# MUST output: (SHA256) db-4.8.30.NC.tar.gz: OK
tar -xzf db-4.8.30.NC.tar.gz

# Build the library and install to specified prefix
cd db-4.8.30.NC/build_unix/
#  Note: Do a static build so that it can be embedded into the executable, instead of having to find a .so at runtime
../dist/configure --enable-cxx --disable-shared --with-pic --prefix=$BDB_PREFIX CC=egcc CXX=eg++ CPP=ecpp
make install # do NOT use -jX, this is broken

Resource limits

The standard ulimit restrictions in OpenBSD are very strict:

data(kbytes)         1572864

This is, unfortunately, no longer enough to compile some .cpp files in the project, at least with gcc 4.9.3 (see issue 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.

Building Bitcoin Core

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 and BOOST_PREFIX are set to the appropriate paths from the above steps.

To configure with wallet:

./configure --with-gui=no --with-boost=$BOOST_PREFIX \
    CC=egcc CXX=eg++ CPP=ecpp \
    LDFLAGS="-L${BDB_PREFIX}/lib/" CPPFLAGS="-I${BDB_PREFIX}/include/"

To configure without wallet:

./configure --disable-wallet --with-gui=no --with-boost=$BOOST_PREFIX \
    CC=egcc CXX=eg++ CPP=ecpp

Build and run the tests:

gmake # can use -jX here for parallelism
gmake check

Clang (not currently working)

Using a newer g++ results in linking the new code to a new libstdc++. Libraries built with the old g++, will still import the old library. This gives conflicts, necessitating rebuild of all C++ dependencies of the application.

With clang this can - at least theoretically - be avoided because it uses the base system’s libstdc++.

pkg_add llvm boost
./configure --disable-wallet --with-gui=no CC=clang CXX=clang++

However, this does not appear to work. Compilation succeeds, but link fails with many ‘local symbol discarded’ errors:

local symbol 150: discarded in section `.text._ZN10tinyformat6detail14FormatIterator6finishEv' from libbitcoin_util.a(libbitcoin_util_a-random.o)
local symbol 151: discarded in section `.text._ZN10tinyformat6detail14FormatIterator21streamStateFromFormatERSoRjPKcii' from libbitcoin_util.a(libbitcoin_util_a-random.o)
local symbol 152: discarded in section `.text._ZN10tinyformat6detail12convertToIntIA13_cLb0EE6invokeERA13_Kc' from libbitcoin_util.a(libbitcoin_util_a-random.o)

According to similar reported errors this is a binutils (ld) issue in 2.15, the version installed by OpenBSD 5.7:

There is no known workaround for this.