To develop the Pintos projects, you’ll need two essential sets of tools:

  • 80x86 cross-compiler toolchain for 32-bit architecture including a C compiler, assembler, linker, and debugger.
  • x86 emulator, QEMU or Bochs

Option 1: JHU CS Lab Machine

The CS department’s lab machines already have these tools available under /usr/local/data/cs318/x86_64. You just need to modify your PATH setting to include it. For Bash, that is to put the following at the end of your ~/.bash_profile:

$ export PATH=/usr/local/data/cs318/x86_64/bin:$PATH

For tcsh (the default login shell in ugrad lab machines in the CS department), the syntax is different: add set path = (/usr/local/data/cs318/x86_64/bin $path) to the end of your ~/.tcshrc. Log out and re-login to let it take effect.

Besides the lab machines, you may want to work on the projects on your own machines to be more productive. This page contains instructions to help you with the setup of the core development environment needed for Pintos on your own machines. They are intended for Unix and Mac OS machines. If you are running Windows, we recommend you to run a virtual machine with Linux or you will have to setup Cygwin first. This guide, and the course in general, assumes you are familiar with Unix commands.

Option 2: Your Own Machine

The best Pintos development environment is your laptop/desktop. If you are using Windows machine, we recommend you to install a Linux virtual machine, e.g., with VirtualBox. For the Linux distribution, Ubuntu 16.04 is what we use. But it is fine to use others.

2.1: Test Your Compiler Toolchain

The compiler toolchain are a collection of tools that turns source code into executable binaries for a target architecture. Pintos is written in C and x86 assembly, and runs on 32-bit 80x86 machines. So we will need the appropriate C compiler (gcc), assembler (as), linker (ld) and debugger (gdb).

If you are using a Linux machine, it is likely equipped with the compiler toolchain already. But it should support 32-bit x86 architecture. A quick test of the support is to run objdump -i | grep elf32-i386 in the terminal. If it returns matching lines, your system’s default tool chain supports the target, so you can skip Section 2.2. Otherwise, you will need to build the toolchain from source.

Note a: If you are using MacOS, you have to build the toolchain from source because MacOS’s object file format is not ELF that we need (and the objdump -i test won’t work).

Note b: If you are using Ubuntu 18.04, you might pass the objdump -i test. However, you will likely encounter an issue later presumably due to a gcc 7 toolchain bug. See the discussion. It is recommended that you build the toolchain from source according to Section 2.2.

Note c: If you are using Ubuntu 16.04, the stock GCC 5.4 should work. If you don’t have GCC installed yet, install it with sudo apt-get install build-essential gdb. The objdump -i test should pass. You just need to install the 32-bit support library with sudo apt-get install gcc-multilib.

2.2: Build Toolchain from Source

When you are building the toolchain from source, to distinguish the new toolchain from your system’s default one, you should add a i386-elf- prefix to the build target, e.g., i386-elf-gcc, i386-elf-as.

  • Prerequisite:
    • standard build tools including make, gcc, etc.
    • for building GDB, you will need the ncurses and textinfo libraries.
    • For Ubuntu, you can install these packages with
      $ sudo apt-get install build-essential
      $ sudo apt-get install libncurses5-dev texinfo
  • The Easy Way:
We've provided a script (pintos/src/misc/ that automates the building instructions. So you can just run the script and modify your PATH setting after the build finishes. The script has been tested on recent version of Ubuntu, Mac OS and Fedora.
$ mkdir -p ~/318/toolchain
$ cd /path/to/pintos/src
$ misc/ ~/318/toolchain

You can replace the path ~/318/toolchain in the above commands with your own preferred path to store the toolchain source and build. If the above commands succeeded, add the toolchain path to your PATH environment variable settings in the .bash_profile or .bashrc file in your home directory:

$ export PATH=/home/ryan/318/toolchain/x86_64/bin:$PATH
  • For the Hardcores:

If you are curious to build the toolchain manually, below are the detailed instructions.

  1. Directory and environment variables:
    • Create a setup directory (e.g., ~/318/toolchain) and subdirectories that look like this:
      ├── build
      ├── x86_64
      └── src
    • Set the environment variables (remember to replace /path/to/setup with the full path to the actual setup directory you’ve created, e.g., SWD=/home/ryan/318/toolchain).
      $ SWD=/path/to/setup
      $ PREFIX=$SWD/x86_64
      $ export PATH=$PREFIX/bin:$PATH

      For Mac users, the last command is export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=$PREFIX/lib:$DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH instead.

  2. GNU binutils:
    • Download:
      $ cd $SWD/src 
      $ wget && tar xzf binutils-2.27.tar.gz
    • Build:
      $ mkdir -p $SWD/build/binutils && cd $SWD/build/binutils
      $ ../../src/binutils-2.27/configure --prefix=$PREFIX --target=i386-elf \
        --disable-multilib --disable-nls --disable-werror
      $ make -j8
      $ make install
  3. GCC:
    • Download:
      $ cd $SWD/src
      $ wget && tar xjf gcc-6.2.0.tar.bz2
      $ cd $SWD/src/gcc-6.2.0 && contrib/download_prerequisites
    • Build:
      $ mkdir -p $SWD/build/gcc && cd $SWD/build/gcc
      $ ../../src/gcc-6.2.0/configure --prefix=$PREFIX --target=i386-elf \
      --disable-multilib --disable-nls --disable-werror --disable-libssp \
      --disable-libmudflap --with-newlib --without-headers --enable-languages=c,c++
      $ make -j8 all-gcc 
      $ make install-gcc
      $ make all-target-libgcc
      $ make install-target-libgcc
  4. GDB:
    • Download:
      $ cd $SWD/src
      $ wget  && tar xJf gdb-7.9.1.tar.xz
    • Build:
      $ mkdir -p $SWD/build/gdb && cd $SWD/build/gdb
      $ ../../src/gdb-7.9.1/configure --prefix=$PREFIX --target=i386-elf --disable-werror
      $ make -j8
      $ make install
After building and installing the toolchain, you need to make sure they are in the PATH. Put export PATH=/path/to/swd/x86_64/bin:$PATH to the end of your terminal config file (e.g., .bash_profile) so that they are set automatically when you login. Remember to replace /path/to/swd/x86_64/bin with the actual path, e.g., ~/318/toolchain/x86_64/bin. You may also want to delete the source and build directories in /path/to/swd/{src,build} to save space.

x86 Emulator

  • QEMU:
    • QEMU is modern and fast. You can either install it from the package repository or build it from source. For Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install qemu libvirt-bin. For MacOS: brew install qemu.
  • Bochs:
    • Bochs is slower than QEMU but provides full emulation (i.e., higher accuracy).
    • For Lab 1, we will use Bochs as the default emulator and for Lab 2-4, we will use QEMU as the default emulator. Nevertheless, nothing will prevent you from using one or another for all the labs.
    • There are some bugs in Bochs that should be fixed when using it with Pintos. Thus, we need to install Bochs from source, and apply the patches that we have provided under pintos/src/misc/bochs*.patch. We will build two versions of Bochs: one, simply named bochs, with the GDB stub enabled, and the other, named bochs-dbg, with the built-in debugger enabled.
    • Version 2.6.2 (note: not 2.2.6) has been tested to work with Pintos. Newer version of Bochs has not been tested.
We have provided a build script pintos/src/misc/ that will download, patch and build two versions of the Bochs for you.
  • But you need to make sure X11 and its library is installed. For Mac OS, you should install XQuartz. For Ubuntu, you should have libx11-dev and libxrandr-dev installed.
$ pintos/src/misc/ /path/to/swd/x86_64

(replace /path/to/swd/x86_64 with the actual directory path, e.g., /home/ryan/318/toolchain/x86_64)

  • After build succeeds, make sure the bochs or bochs-db are in PATH. You can verify the install with bochs --version. The output should contain 2.6.2.

Pintos Utility Tools

The Pintos source distribution comes with a few handy scripts that you will be using frequently. They are located within src/utils/. The most important one is the pintos Perl script, which you will be using to start and run tests in pintos. You need to make sure it can be found in your PATH environment variable. In addition, the src/misc/gdb-macros is provided with a number of GDB macros that you will find useful when you are debugging Pintos. The pintos-gdb is a wrapper around the i386-elf-gdb that reads this macro file at start. It assumes the macro file resides in ../misc.

The example commands to do the above setup for the Pintos utilities are: (replace /path/to/swd/x86_64 with the actual directory path)

$ cd pintos/src/utils && make
$ cp backtrace pintos pintos-gdb pintos-set-cmdline pintos-mkdisk setitimer-helper squish-pty squish-unix /path/to/swd/x86_64/bin
$ mkdir /path/to/swd/x86_64/misc
$ cp pintos/src/misc/gdb-macros /path/to/swd/x86_64/misc


  • Required: Perl. Version 5.8.0 or later.
  • Recommended:
  • Optional:
    • GUI IDEs like Eclipse CDT or clion. The instructor has not tried them. Vim or Emacs plus the standard Unix development tools would suffice for the course. But if you can’t live without GUI IDEs. You may explore the setup yourself (potential reference) and let us know if they are helpful!

Happy hacking :)