Get the Kythe source code

git clone

External Dependencies

Kythe relies on the following external dependencies:

  • go >=1.7
  • clang-3.5
  • cmake >= 3.4.3
  • node.js
  • asciidoc
  • jdk >=8
  • parallel
  • source-highlight
  • graphviz
  • libncurses-dev
  • libcurl4-openssl-dev
  • uuid-dev
  • libssl-dev
  • bison-3.0.2 (2.3 is also acceptable)
  • flex-2.5
  • libmemcached-dev
  • docker (for release images //kythe/release/... and //buildtools/docker)
  • leiningen (used to build kythe/web/ui)
  • ninja (optional; improves LLVM build speed)

You will need to ensure they exist using your favorite method (apt-get, brew, etc.).

Installing Debian Jessie Packages

echo deb jessie-backports main >> /etc/apt/sources.list
apt-get update

apt-get install \
    asciidoc source-highlight graphviz \
    gcc libssl-dev uuid-dev libncurses-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev flex clang-3.5 bison \
    openjdk-8-jdk \
    parallel libmemcached-dev

# for Golang installation
# for Docker installation

Internal Dependencies

All other Kythe dependencies are hosted within the repository under //third_party/.... Run the ./tools/modules/ script to update these dependencies to the exact revision that we test against.

This step may take a little time the first time it is run and should be quick on subsequent runs.

Installing and keeping LLVM up to date

When building Kythe, we assume that you have an LLVM checkout in third_party/llvm/llvm. If you don’t have an LLVM checkout in that directory, or if you fall out of date, the ./tools/modules/ script will update you to the exact revisions that we test against.

Note that you don’t need to have a checkout of LLVM per Kythe checkout. It’s enough to have a symlink of the third_party/llvm/llvm directory.

Building Kythe

Building using Bazel

Kythe uses Bazel to build its source code. After installing Bazel and all external dependencies, building Kythe should be as simple as:

./tools/modules/  # Ensure third_party is updated

bazel build //... # Build all Kythe sources
bazel test  //... # Run all Kythe tests

Please note that you must use a non-jdk7 version of Bazel. Some package managers may provide the jdk7 version by default. To determine if you are using an incompatible version of Bazel, look for jdk7 in the build label that is printed by bazel version.

Build a release of Kythe using Bazel and unpack it in /opt/kythe

Many examples on the site assume you have installed kythe in /opt/kythe.

# Your current Kythe version
export KYTHE_RELEASE="0.0.21"
# Build a Kythe release
bazel build //kythe/release
# Extract our new Kythe release to /opt/ including its version number
tar -zxf bazel-genfiles/kythe/release/kythe-v${KYTHE_RELEASE}.tar.gz /opt/
# Remove the old pointer to Kythe if we had one
rm -f /opt/kythe 
# Point Kythe to our new version
ln -s /opt/kythe-v${KYTHE_RELEASE} /opt/kythe

Using the Go tool to build Go sources directly

Kythe’s Go sources can be directly built with the go tool as well as with Bazel.

# Install LevelDB/snappy libraries for
sudo apt-get install libleveldb-dev libsnappy-dev

# With an appropriate GOPATH setup
go get

# Using the vendored versions of the needed third_party Go libraries
git clone
GOPATH=$GOPATH:$PWD/kythe/third_party/go go get

The additional benefits of using Bazel are the built-in support for generating the Go protobuf code in kythe/proto/ and the automatic usage of the checked-in third_party/go libraries (instead of adding to your GOPATH). However, for quick access to Kythe’s Go sources (which implement most of Kythe’s platform and language-agnostic services), using the Go tool is very convenient.

Updating and building the website

  • Make change in ./kythe/web/site
  • Spell check
  • Build a local version to verify fixes


gem install bundler

Build and serve:

cd ./kythe/web/site
# Serve website locally on port 4000
bundle exec jekyll serve