Bob is built with Python3 (>=3.6). Some additional Python packages are required. They are installed automatically as dependencies.

Apart from the Python dependencies additional run time dependencies could arise, e.g.:

  • GNU bash >= 4.x

  • Microsoft PowerShell

  • GNU coreutils (cp, ln, sha1sum, …)

  • GNU tar

  • hexdump

  • curl as the default URL SCM downloader

  • source code management handlers as used (curl, cvs, git >= 2.13.0, svn)

  • extractors based on the supported extensions (7z, GNU tar, gunzip, unxz, unzip)

  • azure-storage-blob Python library if the azure archive backend is used. Either install via pip (python3 -m pip install azure-storage-blob) or download from GitHub.

The actually needed dependencies depend on the used features and the operating system.


There are several options how to install Bob on your system. If in doubt stick to the standard pip method.

If you are unfamiliar with the installation of Python packages make sure to read Installing Packages from the Python Packaging User Guide. The instructions below assume that you have installed Python and that it is available on the command line.

Supported Platforms

  • Linux

  • Windows 10

  • MSYS2 (Windows 10)

  • Other POSIX platforms should work but are not actively tested

See below for platform specific installation notes.

PyPI release versions

To get the latest released version just use pip to download the package and its depedencies from PyPI:

$ python3 -m pip install BobBuildTool [--user]

Release versions are supposed to be stable and keep backwards compatibility.

Install latest development version

If you want to test pre-release versions you can instruct pip to fetch and build the package directly from git:

$ python3 -m pip install --user git+

Note that during development minor breakages can occur.

Hacking on Bob

For the basic hacking there is no installation needed. Just clone the repository:

$ git clone
$ cd bob

and add this directory to your $PATH or set a symlink to bob from a directory that is already in $PATH. You will have to manually install all required dependencies and the bash completion, though.


The pip install -e . resp. python3 develop commands do not work for Bob. The problem is that these installation variants are only really working for pure python projects. In contrast to that Bob comes with manpages and C helper applets that are not built by these commands.

The following additional packages and Python modules that are not part of the standard library and need to be installed:

  • PyYAML. Either install via pip (python3 -m pip install PyYAML) or the package that comes with your distribution (e.g. python3-yaml on Debian).

  • schema. Either install via pip (python3 -m pip install schema) or the package that comes with your distribution (e.g. python3-schema on Debian).

  • python-magic. Either install via pip (python3 -m pip install python-magic) or the package that comes with your distribution (e.g. python3-magic on Debian).

  • pyparsing. Either install via pip (python3 -m pip install pyparsing) or the package that comes with your distribution (e.g. python3-pyparsing on Debian).

To fully run Bob you need the following tools:

The compiler is only required on Linux.

Offline installation

In case you need to install Bob on machines without internet access the following commands may give you some hints how to do this:

On a machine with internet access download the required packages.

$ mkdir -p bob_install && cd bob_install
$ pip3 download BobBuildTool -d .
$ pip3 download sphinx -d .

After this transfer the bob_install folder to your offline machine and install bob, but install the dependencies first. Otherwise they are not found or maybe in a wrong version already installed.

$ pip3 install --no-index --find-links /path/to/bob_install Setuptools
$ pip3 install --no-index --find-links /path/to/bob_install Sphinx
$ pip3 install --no-index --find-links /path/to/bob_install BobBuildTool

Maybe there are some other dependencies missing, e.g. setuptools, setuptools_scm, wheel,…

Linux/POSIX platform notes

Shell completion

Bob comes with a bash completion script. If you installed Bob the completion should already be available (given that $(DESTDIR)/share/bash-completion/completions exists on your system). Otherwise simply source the script contrib/bash-completion/bob from your ~/.bashrc file. Optionally you can copy the script to some global directory that is picked up automatically (e.g. cp contrib/bash-completion/bob /etc/bash_completion.d/bob on Debian).

Zsh is able to understand the completion script too. Enable it with the following steps:

zsh$ autoload bashcompinit
zsh$ bashcompinit
zsh$ source contrib/bash-completion/bob

Sandbox capabilities

You might have to tweak your kernel settings in order to use the sandbox feature. Bob uses Linux’s user namespaces to run the build in a clean environment. Check if

$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/unprivileged_userns_clone

yields “1”. If the file exists and the setting is 0 you will get an “operation not permitted” error when building. Add the line

kernel.unprivileged_userns_clone = 1

to your /etc/sysctl.conf (or wherever your distro stores that).

Windows platform notes

Bob can be used in two flavours on Windows: as native application or in a MSYS2 POSIX environment. Unless your recipes need Unix tools the native installation is recommended.

Native usage

Python comes with extensive documentation about how to install it on Windows. Only the full installer has been tested but the other methods should probably work as well.

Make sure to add the Python interpreter to %PATH%. If your recipes use Bash you must additionally install MSYS2 and add the path to bash.exe after the native Python interpreter. Otherwise the MSYS2 Python interpreter might be invoked which does not work.


Windows path lengths have historically been limited to 260 characters. Starting with Windows 10 the administrator can activate the “Enable Win32 long paths” group policy or you may set the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem@LongPathsEnabled registry key to 1. Either option is sufficient to remove the path length limitation.

If you want to install Bob for all users, make sure you have installed Python for all users and that you run pip with administrative rights. Otherwise the installation will only be done for the current user!


Follow the standard MSYS2 installation. Then install python3 and python-pip and use one of the install methods above.