So you want to cross-compile Bitcoin (or any C/C++ program in fact) from your x86_64 host machine for an ARM “target” machine.

This little howto aims to help you with that. It’s intended for intermediate level, i.e. you should be familiar with the ./configure and make commands but you don’t need to have earlier experience with cross-compilation.

The first step is to identify what’s called the target triplet. An easy way to do so is to run gcc -dumpmachine on the target machine. If you don’t have gcc installed, you can install it to run that command then uninstall it right away.

In my case, I have:

$ gcc -dumpmachine

You’ll have to replace arm-linux-gnueabihf with whatever you get for the rest of this howto.

Install a cross-compiler for our target platform

If you’re running Arch Linux, there might be an AUR package for you. If you’re not running Arch or you want to use a more generic method, you can skip to the next paragraph which explains how to use crosstool-ng.

On Arch Linux using AUR

$ yaourt -S arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc # pulls all dependencies, compiles for several hours on a quad-core...

$ yaourt -Q | grep arm-linux
local/arm-linux-gnueabihf-binutils 2.25.1-3
local/arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc 5.3.0-2
local/arm-linux-gnueabihf-glibc 2.22-3
local/arm-linux-gnueabihf-linux-api-headers 4.1.4-1

$ arm-linux-gnueabihf-g++ -v # should be working and in the $PATH

On any distro using crosstool-ng

First, you need to install crosstool-ng, the executable is named ct-ng and should be available to a non-root user.

Then we check if ct-ng knows our target architecture:

$ ct-ng list-samples | grep arm-linux-gnueabihf

If you can’t find an exact match, just run ct-ng list-samples and pick the closest one, like arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi or maybe armv7-rpi2-linux-gnueabihf. To select it, simply run:

$ ct-ng arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi

Now we need to build the actual toolchain. This will take a long while as it downloads a copy of the Linux kernel, binutils, gcc, etc. then builds gcc itself, etc. That will require a few gigs of disk space and burn your CPU for a while…

If you’re in a rush, you can skip building some of the tools such as gdb, etc. You can do that with ct-ng menuconfig then unselect what you don’t need.

$ ct-ng build

When it’s finally done, you should have a new directory named ~/x-tools/:

$ ls ~/x-tools/arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi/bin
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-addr2line  arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-ct-ng.config  arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gcc-nm   arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-size
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-ar         arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-dwp           arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gcc-ranlib  arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-nm        arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-strings
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-as         arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-elfedit       arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gcov        arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-objcopy   arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-strip
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-c++        arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-g++           arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gprof       arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-objdump
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-cc         arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gcc           arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-ld          arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-populate
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-c++filt    arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gcc-4.9.4     arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-ld.bfd      arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-ranlib
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-cpp        arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gcc-ar        arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-ldd         arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-readelf

Add the bin sub-directory to your $PATH with export PATH=~/x-tools/arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi/bin:$PATH

$ export CXX=arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-cpp
$ $CXX -v
arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi-gcc (crosstool-NG crosstool-ng-1.22.0) 5.2.0

Great! We now have a working cross-compiler.

Compiling Bitcoin

We’re on the home stretch! Getting a cross-compiler to work was probably harder than compiling Bitcoin itself. Let’s start by fetching the source code and checking out the latest tagged release (v0.12.0 at the time of this writing):

$ git clone
$ cd bitcoin
$ git checkout v0.12.0
$ cd depends
$ less # the following is inspired from this README

Now we need to pull all the dependencies to compile Bitcoin. I don’t need a GUI – NO_QT=1 – nor wallet support nor UPNP but adapt the next line to your needs:

$ make HOST=arm-linux-gnueabihf NO_QT=1 NO_WALLET=1 NO_UPNP=1 -j4

This will also take a while since it downloads a bunch of dependencies including the fat libboost. When it’s done let’s go back to the root directory and generate the configure file:

$ cd ..
$ ./

Once again, I pass in a few flags to ./configure but you can adapt them to your needs. Run ./configure --help for more details about the flags.

$ ./configure --prefix=`pwd`/depends/arm-linux-gnueabihf --with-gui=no --disable-wallet --without-miniupnpc --disable-zmq --enable-reduce-exports
$ make -j4 # takes about 5 minutes

Awesome! Let’s check out our freshly compiled binaries and strip them to save some size.

$ find src -maxdepth 1 -type f -executable

$ find src -maxdepth 1 -type f -executable -exec arm-linux-gnueabihf-strip {} \;

$ find src -maxdepth 1 -type f -executable -exec ls -lh {} \;
-rwxr-xr-x 1 infertux infertux 4.8M Feb 24 22:27 src/bitcoind
-rwxr-xr-x 1 infertux infertux 1.6M Feb 24 22:27 src/bitcoin-cli
-rwxr-xr-x 1 infertux infertux 2.0M Feb 24 22:27 src/bitcoin-tx

$ find src -maxdepth 1 -type f -executable -exec file {} \; | grep -Eo "^([^,]+,){6}"
src/bitcoind: ELF 32-bit LSB shared object, ARM, EABI5 version 1 (GNU/Linux), dynamically linked, interpreter /lib/, for GNU/Linux 2.6.32,
src/bitcoin-cli: ELF 32-bit LSB shared object, ARM, EABI5 version 1 (GNU/Linux), dynamically linked, interpreter /lib/, for GNU/Linux 2.6.32,
src/bitcoin-tx: ELF 32-bit LSB shared object, ARM, EABI5 version 1 (GNU/Linux), dynamically linked, interpreter /lib/, for GNU/Linux 2.6.32,

The last step is to copy these three files to your ARM machine then run ./bitcoind --help to make sure it works.



Wrong libstdc++ version

After copying my binary to the target machine and running it, I get a message like version `GLIBCXX_3.4.21’ not found (required by ./bitcoind).

$ ./bitcoind --help
./bitcoind: /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/ version `GLIBCXX_3.4.21' not found (required by ./bitcoind)

$ strings /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/ | grep GLIBCXX

$ ls -l /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/ # on target machine (Debian)
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root     19 Dec 27  2014 /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/ ->

$ ls -l /usr/arm-linux-gnueabihf/lib/ # on host machine (Arch)
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 19 Feb 24 21:00 /usr/arm-linux-gnueabihf/lib/ ->

$ # Dammit, our host machine was using a newer version of libstdc++ than our target machine...
$ # Let's copy the old version to our host machine and recompile Bitcoin with that lib...

$ scp target:/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/ /tmp/lib/
$ ./configure ... LDFLAGS=-L/tmp/lib
configure: error: No working boost sleep implementation found.

$ # Using seems to be breaking boost sleep implementation for some reason... :/
$ # Let's try something else by copying the newer lib to the target and set LD_LIBRARY_PATH instead

$ scp /usr/arm-linux-gnueabihf/lib/ target:~/
$ LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./bitcoind --version
Bitcoin Core Daemon version v0.12.0

$ # Success!