Book Image

CMake Best Practices

By : Dominik Berner, Mustafa Kemal Gilor
5 (2)
Book Image

CMake Best Practices

5 (2)
By: Dominik Berner, Mustafa Kemal Gilor

Overview of this book

CMake is a powerful tool used to perform a wide variety of tasks, so finding a good starting point for learning CMake is difficult. This book cuts to the core and covers the most common tasks that can be accomplished with CMake without taking an academic approach. While the CMake documentation is comprehensive, it is often hard to find good examples of how things fit together, especially since there are lots of dirty hacks and obsolete solutions available on the internet. This book focuses on helping you to tie things together and create clean and maintainable projects with CMake. You'll not only get to grips with the basics but also work through real-world examples of structuring large and complex maintainable projects and creating builds that run in any programming environment. You'll understand the steps to integrate and automate various tools for improving the overall software quality, such as testing frameworks, fuzzers, and automatic generation of documentation. And since writing code is only half of the work, the book also guides you in creating installers and packaging and distributing your software. All this is tailored to modern development workflows that make heavy use of CI/CD infrastructure. By the end of this CMake book, you'll be able to set up and maintain complex software projects using CMake in the best way possible.
Table of Contents (22 chapters)
Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Practical CMake – Getting Your Hands Dirty with CMake
Part 3: Mastering the Details

Installing CMake

CMake is freely available to download from It is available as either a precompiled binary or as source code. For most use cases, the precompiled binary is fully sufficient, but since CMake itself has very few dependencies, building a version is also possible.

Any major Linux distribution offers CMake over its package repositories. Although the pre-packaged versions of CMake are not usually the latest releases, these installations are often sufficient to use if the system is regularly updated.


The minimum version of CMake to use with the examples in this book is 3.21. We recommend that you download the appropriate version of CMake manually to ensure that you get the correct version.

Building CMake from source

CMake is written in C++ and uses Make to build itself. Building CMake from scratch is possible, but for most use cases, using the binary downloads will do just fine.

After downloading the source package from, extract it to a folder and run the following command:

./configure make

If you want to build cmake-gui as well, configure it with the --qt-gui option. This requires Qt to be installed. Configuring will take a while, but once it's succeeded, CMake can be installed using the following command:

make install

To test whether the installation was successful, you can execute the following command:

cmake --version

This will print out the version of CMake, like this:

cmake version 3.21.2
CMake suite maintained and supported by Kitware (