Much like Autotools and CMake, Meson is a build system. But it is meant to be both fast and as user friendly as possible. GNOME’s goal is to port modules to use the Meson build system.


The MesonPackage base class comes with the following phases:

  1. meson - generate ninja files
  2. build - build the project
  3. install - install the project

By default, these phases run:

$ mkdir spack-build
$ cd spack-build
$ meson .. --prefix=/path/to/installation/prefix
$ ninja
$ ninja test  # optional
$ ninja install

Any of these phases can be overridden in your package as necessary. There is also a check method that looks for a test target in the build file. If a test target exists and the user runs:

$ spack install --test=root <meson-package>

Spack will run ninja test after the build phase.

Important files

Packages that use the Meson build system can be identified by the presence of a file. This file declares things like build instructions and dependencies.

Build system dependencies

At the bare minimum, packages that use the Meson build system need meson and `ninja` dependencies. Since this is always the case, the MesonPackage base class already contains:

depends_on('meson', type='build')
depends_on('ninja', type='build')

Passing arguments to meson

If you need to pass any arguments to the meson call, you can override the meson_args method like so:

def meson_args(self):
    return ['--default-library=both']

This method can be used to pass flags as well as variables.

External documentation

For more information on the Meson build system, see: