General Information for Developers


Bugs should be filed in our bug tracker. Questions and comments can be sent to the developer mailing list: ramcloud-dev(As of 2019/10/7 support for RAMCloud has ended)

Necessary Tools

  • GNU Make (Anything reasonably recent)
  • GNU g++ (4.9.x)
  • git (>= 1.6.0)
  • Perl (Anything reasonably recent)
    • For, which automatically inserts included headers in source files into the make dependencies.
  • Python 2.6, epydoc 
  • Boost
    • If you're having issues with Boost on Ubuntu, check boost ticket #3844.
  • pcre
  • Doxygen 1.7.1
  • protocol buffers
    • If you're getting lots of undefined reference errors during linking, it's likely that your libprotobuf is compiled with a different library ABI than RAMCloud. Check GCC's Dual ABI page and the "GLIBCXX_USE_CXX11_ABI" flag in GNUMakefile.
  • ZooKeeper
  • java and javac (>= 1.7.0_25)

To get a working toolchain on Debian (and probably Ubuntu), this used to be sufficient:

aptitude install build-essential git-core doxygen libboost1.42-all-dev libpcre3-dev protobuf-compiler libprotobuf-dev libcrypto++-dev libevent-dev

To get a working toolchain on SUSE Linux Enterprise or openSUSE perform the following steps:

zypper rm libevent-1_4-2 *boost*
zypper install mpfr-devel glibc-devel-32bit doxygen scons libzip-devel libbz2-devel pcre-devel *boost*1_44*
Install from sources: libevent-2.0.20-stable, protobuf-2.4.1, cryptopp560, gcc-4.4.6

Here are some toolchain installation commands that have worked for other members of the community on different systems:

Ubuntu 15.04 /
Debian 8.2 
apt-get install build-essential git-core doxygen=1.7.1 libpcre3-dev protobuf-compiler libprotobuf-dev libcrypto++-dev libevent-dev libboost-all-dev libgtest-dev libzookeeper-mt-dev zookeeper libssl-dev

Source Code

For Core Developers

For those with r+w access to the repository on GitHub, which currently hosts our git repository, clone from here for write access:

git clone
cd RAMCloud
git submodule update --init --recursive
ln -s ../../hooks/pre-commit .git/hooks/pre-commit

(Notes: the git submodule update retrieves additional repos needed to build RAMCloud, such as gtest; the ln -s command arranges for various consistency checks to run during commits, such as ensuring the absence of carriage returns)

For Read-Only Access

Use the same instructions as above, except replace "" with "" in the git clone command. With this approach you don't need to have r+w access to the repository on GitHub, and you can't push commits to the repository. With read-only access, you can send us patches, or we can pull them from your repository.


cd RAMCloud   
make -j12

Object files and executables will appear in the subdirectory, where xxx is your current branch (typically master). By default, RAMCloud compiles with debugging symbols, which slows the system down considerably.  If you want to make performance measurements, recompile without debugging symbols:

make clean
make -j12 DEBUG=no

CentOS Issues

This shouldn't be necessary any more on the Stanford cluster, as /etc/skel/.bashrc now includes the line. -Diego 2012-04-15

Update your LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include /usr/local/lib. If you do not do so, you'll get cryptic errors claiming cannot be found. It can, but some of its dependencies in /usr/local/lib cannot. Do the following:

echo "export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib" >> ~/.bashrc
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib                           [or log out and back  in]

Interesting Targets

  • make- build the RAMCloud server and client software
    • Output obj.master/client/client, obj.master/server/server
    • Replace 'master' with the git local branch name you are on if it is not 'master'
  • make tests - build and run RAMCloud unit tests (requires CppUnit)
  • make check - currently runs Google style checker against files in the src directory; subject to check as style evolves

Style Rules

We have a comprehensive style guide for how code should be formatted in RAMCloud. Actually, we don't quite follow what that style guide says, but we do keep a consistent style.

If you use GNU EMACS this configuration can help.

Commit Style Rules

Obviously, you can do anything you want on your own clones.

You can also do anything you want to your own branches on fiz, including rewriting their histories in any way. (If you're working with someone else on a branch on fiz, you might want to use stricter rules.)

An issue below roughly means a logically independent change to the code base.

For any pushes into the master branch on fiz:

  • No commit should include changes for multiple issues. (Each commit in the push should complete or work towards a single issue.)
  • Pushes should complete any issues they start, but individual commits within a push do not need to complete an issue.
  • If at all possible, each commit should represent a version of the system that actually works (e.g., passes all unit tests and runs simple apps and system tests). This is important so that people can use git bisect to hunt down the commit that caused a bug: if commits are broken, git bisect won't work.
  • All commit messages should be meaningful without looking at the diff. (By reading a commit message, you should get some idea of what was modified and what the intent was. If you can't fit this in one line, skip a line and then write more.)

Speed Up Build

Put the following lines in the file `private/MakefragPrivateTop`:

# Use ccache to speed up compilation by caching object
# files across compilations.
CCACHE := yes
# Use gold linker for faster linking.
LINKER := gold

Running Under Valgrind

Compiling unit test:

make VALGRIND=yes test 

Running unit test:  The 'master' part in 'obj.master' could be replaced your git branch name.

 valgrind --leak-check=yes obj.master/test 

Running system test with valgrind: Use 'scripts/', which posts RAMCloud tasks into the server cluster, with '–valgrind'. Use '–valgrindArgs' to pass the options to valgrind:

  scripts/ --verbose --timeout=600 --valgrind --valgrindArgs='--leak-check=yes --leak-resolution=med --show-reachable=no --undef-value-errors=no' --client=RAM-462/ram462test

Running With Google's Sanitizers

There are currently three Sanitizers available in the build option: AddressSanitizer (ASan), ThreadSanitizer (TSan) and UndefinedBehaviorSanitizer (UBSan). They can be enabled with the SANITIZER symbol. Different Sanitizers are not consistent with each other, so there can be only one Sanitizer enabled at a time.

Building RAMCloud and unit tests with ASan: Similarly, replace 'address' with 'thread' or 'undefined' to enable TSan or UBSan respectively.

make SANITIZER=address tests

Running unit tests and system tests are the same as usual once RAMCloud and the respective test files are compiled with the Sanitizer.

For more information (e.g., the kinds of bugs each Sanitizer can find, bug report format, additional runtime options, etc.), see:

Additional Sanity Checks

Before pushing to the master branch on fiz it is generally a good idea to make sure your changes haven't caused regressions in the recovery system.

  • runs a small but complete recovery. See Running Recoveries with for details on testing more complicated recoveries with this tool.

  • runs a variety of messed up failure scenarios that try to exercise the system. As the system is able to tolerate more scenarios they will be added to this test suite.