box86

Box86 - Linux Userspace x86 Emulator with a twist, targeted at ARM Linux devices

View on GitHub

Compiling/Installing

Debian-based Linux

You can use @Itai-Nelken’s apt repository to install precompiled box86 debs, updated weekly.

sudo wget https://itai-nelken.github.io/weekly-box86-debs/debian/box86.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/box86.list
wget -qO- https://itai-nelken.github.io/weekly-box86-debs/debian/KEY.gpg | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt update && sudo apt install box86 -y

Alternatively, you can generate your own package using the instructions below.

for Pandora

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DPANDORA=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make

for Pyra

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DPYRA=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make

for Gameshell

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DGAMESHELL=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make

for Raspberry Pi

a build for model 2, 3 and 4 can be done. Model 1 and 0 cannot (at least not with Dynarec, as they lack NEON support)

git clone https://github.com/ptitSeb/box86
cd box86
mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DRPI4=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo
make
sudo make install
sudo systemctl restart systemd-binfmt
Note: You can use make -j2, -j3, etc. to speed up 1st build, but beware of the memory requirement if you go too high.

for Raspberry Pi on 64bit OS

For Pi4. Change to RPI2 or RPI3 for other models. Change -DRPI4=1 to -DRPI4ARM64=1 for compiling on arm64. (armhf multiarch or chroot required alongside armhf gcc. Install it with ‘sudo apt install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf’.)

sudo apt install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf # installs the cross-compiler toolchain required to build 32 bit ARM code
git clone https://github.com/ptitSeb/box86
cd box86
mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DRPI4ARM64=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo
make -j2
sudo make install
sudo systemctl restart systemd-binfmt

for ODROID

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DODROID=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j3

for RK3399

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DRK3399=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j3

As most RK3399 devices run an AARCH64 OS, you’ll need an armhf multiarch environment, and an armhf gcc: On debian, install it with sudo apt install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf.

Also, on armbian, you may need to install libc6-dev-armhf-cross or you may have an issue with crt1.o and a few other files not included with box86.

for Tinker Board (1/1S) or RK3288

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DRK3288=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j3

for Allwinner A64

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DA64=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j3

As most Allwinner A64 devices run an AARCH64 OS, you’ll need an armhf multiarch environment, and an armhf gcc: On debian, install it with sudo apt install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf.

Also, on armbian, you may need to install libc6-dev-armhf-cross or you may have an issue with crt1.o and a few other files not included with box86.

for Snapdragon 845

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DSD845=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j4

As most Snapdragon 845 devices run an AARCH64 OS, you’ll need an armhf multiarch environment, and an armhf gcc: On mobian, install it with sudo apt install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf.

for Phytium

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DPHYTIUM=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j4

As most Phytium (D2000 or FT2000/4) devices run an AARCH64 OS, you’ll need an armhf multiarch environment, and an armhf gcc: On debian, install it with sudo apt install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf.

Also, on armbian, you may need to install libc6-dev-armhf-cross or you may have an issue with crt1.o and a few other files not included with box86.

for Other ARM Linux platforms

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DARM_DYNAREC=ON -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j3

for x86 Linux

mkdir build; cd build; cmake .. -DCMAKE_C_FLAGS="-m32" -DLD80BITS=1 -DNOALIGN=1 -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo; make -j3

use ccmake

Alternatively, you can use the curses-bases ccmake (or any other gui frontend for cmake) to select wich platform to use interactively.

Customize your build

use ccache if you have it

Add -DUSE_CCACHE=1 if you have ccache (it’s better if you plan to touch the sources)

To have some debug info

The -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=RelWithDebInfo argument makes a build that is both optimized for speed, and has debug information embedded. That way, if you have a crash or try to analyse performance, you’ll have some symbols.

To have a Trace Enabled build

To have a trace enabled build (the interpreter will be slightly slower), add -DHAVE_TRACE=1. But you will need the Zydis library in your LD_LIBRARY_PATH or in the system library folders at runtime.

to have ARM Dynarec

Note: VFPv3 and NEON are required for Dynarec.
Note: Compiling with ARM_DYNAREC without selecting a hardware profile is not advised.

Dynarec is only available on the ARM architecture (for the meantime anyways). Activate it by using -DARM_DYNAREC=1.

You will most likely need -marm in compilation flags (Many compilers default to the Thumb instruction set and Dynarec does not support this).

Note: If you get error building that “target CPU does not support ARM mode”, then try to pick a hardware profile (like ODROID for armv7 or PI4 for armv8).
64bit OS with Dynarec

If you are using a 64bit OS with armhf multiarch, it’s much easier to pick one of the hardware profiles.

RPI4ARM64, RK3399, PHYTIUM or SD845.

Not building from a git clone

If you are not building from a git clone (for example, downloading a release source code zip from github), you need to use -DNOGIT=1 from cmake to be able to build (box86 uses git SHA1 to show last commit in version number).


Testing

A few tests are included with box86.

They can be launched using the ctest command.

The tests are very basic and only tests some functionality for now.


Note about devices with Tegra X1 and newer.

NVIDIA doesn’t provide armhf libraries for their GPU drivers at this time. There is no special variable to compile box86 for them, as it would be misleading to many people. If you still want to use it wihout GPU acceleration, building it with RPI4 configuration should work just fine. Installation of Mesa can break the NVIDIA driver, so the safest option is to use a chroot environment.


Debian Packaging

Box86 can also be packaged into a .deb file with DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS=nostrip dpkg-buildpackage -us -uc -nc.