crosstool-NG is configured with a configurator presenting a menu-structured set of options. These options let you specify the way you want your toolchain built, where you want it installed, what architecture and specific processor it will support, the version of the components you want to use, etc. The value for those options are then stored in a configuration file.

The configurator works the same way you configure your Linux kernel. It is assumed you know how to handle this.

To enter the menu, type:

ct-ng menuconfig

Almost every config item has a help entry. Read them carefully.

String and number options can refer to environment variables. In such a case, you must use the shell syntax: ${VAR}. You shall neither single- nor double- quote the string/number options.

There are three environment variables that are computed by crosstool-NG, and that you can use:

  • CT_TARGET: Represents the target tuple you are building for. You can use it for example in the installation/prefix directory, such as: /opt/x-tools/${CT_TARGET}. If needed, parts of CT_TARGET are also available as CT_TARGET_ARCH, CT_TARGET_VENDOR, CT_TARGET_KERNEL and CT_TARGET_SYS.

  • CT_TOP_DIR: The top directory where crosstool-NG is running. You shouldn’t need it in most cases. One case where you may need it is if you have local patches or config files and you store them in your current working directory, you can refer to them by using CT_TOP_DIR, such as: ${CT_TOP_DIR}/patches.myproject.

  • CT_VERSION: The version of crosstool-NG you are using. Not much use for you, but it’s there if you need it.

  • You can also refer to the config variables recursively, but take care to avoid circular dependencies or nesting the references too deep (crosstool-NG currently only follows them to a depth of 10).

Sample configurations

Crosstool-NG ships with several sample configurations (pre-configured toolchains that are known to build and work). Sample names are 1- to 4-part tuples. To get the list of these samples and see more detailed information on any sample, do (replace “arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi” with the sample name you want to view):

ct-ng list-samples
ct-ng show-arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi

Once you chose one sample as a starting point, load it as a base and fine-tune using ct-ng menuconfig as described above:

ct-ng arm-unknown-linux-gnueabi
ct-ng menuconfig

Interesting config options

  • CT_LOCAL_TARBALLS_DIR: If you already have some tarballs in a directory, enter it here. That will speed up the retrieving phase, where crosstool-NG would otherwise download those tarballs.

  • CT_PREFIX_DIR: This is where the toolchain will be installed in (and for now, where it will run from). Common use is to add the target tuple in the directory path, such as (see above): /opt/x-tools/${CT_TARGET}.

  • CT_TARGET_VENDOR: An identifier for your toolchain, will take place in the vendor part of the target tuple. It shall not contain spaces or dashes. Usually, keep it to a one-word string, or use underscores to separate words if you need. Avoid dots, commas, and special characters. It can be set to empty, to remove the vendor string from the target tuple.

  • CT_TARGET_ALIAS: An alias for the toolchain. It will be used as a prefix to the toolchain tools. For example, you will have ${CT_TARGET_ALIAS}-gcc.

Also, if you think you don’t see enough versions, you can try to enable one of those:

  • CT_OBSOLETE: Show obsolete versions of tools. Most of the time, you don’t want to base your toolchain on too old a version (of gcc, for example). But at times, it can come handy to use such an old version for regression tests or to support some outdated system configuration. Those old versions are hidden behind CT_OBSOLETE. Those versions (or features) are so marked because maintaining support for those in crosstool-NG would be too costly, time-wise, and time is dear. Note that these versions are likely going to disappear in the next crosstool-NG release.

  • CT_EXPERIMENTAL: Show experimental versions of tools and crosstool-NG features. This may enable using unreleased versions of the tools, or configure the toolchain in a way that is not thoroughly tested. Use with care.

Re-building an existing toolchain

If you have an existing toolchain, you can re-use the options used to build it to create a new toolchain. That needs a very little bit of effort on your side but is quite easy. The options to build a toolchain are saved with the toolchain, and you can retrieve this configuration by running:


An alternate method is to extract the configuration from a build.log file. This will be necessary if your toolchain was build with crosstool-NG prior to 1.4.0, but can be used with build.log files from any version:

ct-ng extractconfig <build.log >.config

Or, if your build.log file is compressed (most probably!):

bzcat build.log.bz2 | ct-ng extractconfig >.config

The above commands will dump the configuration to stdout, so to rebuild a toolchain with this configuration, just redirect the output to the .config file:

${CT_TARGET}-ct-ng.config >.config
ct-ng oldconfig

Then, you can review and change the configuration by running:

ct-ng menuconfig


The same procedure applies to rebuilding the toolchain with a newer crosstool-NG version. Perform ct-ng oldconfig prior to building the toolchain! Otherwise, the options introduced in the new release will not be set to their default values, and this will result in errors later on! If you cloned a Git repository, you need to do ct-ng oldconfig each time you do a git pull.