[ccache] ccache-like tool

David Boyce boyski at users.sourceforge.net
Fri Jul 30 06:14:40 MDT 2010

On Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 7:09 AM, Joel Rosdahl <joel at rosdahl.net> wrote:
> This is no longer true, since ccache doesn't always run the preprocessor
> anymore (see http://ccache.samba.org/manual.html#_how_ccache_works). I
> suggest that you use the current top-level summary instead: "ccache is a
> compiler cache. It speeds up recompilation by caching previous
> compilations and detecting when the same compilation is being done
> again. Supported languages are C, C++, Objective-C and Objective-C++."

Fixed for next update.

>    "Note that for simplicity we sometimes refer to CCACHE as a C
>    compiler speedup when it really works with C or C++."
> Minor thing: Objective-C and Objective-C++ are also supported now.

Fixed for next update.

>    "CCACHE is a personal tool; it keeps its cache in the user's home
>    directory. Thus each user must build up and maintain his/her cache
>    without sharing."
> This is the default, but as you mention further below, it's possible to
> configure ccache with a shared cache, so the text above is misleading.
>    "Update: this is apparently no longer true if it ever was, since the
>    ccache website says nowadays 'You can also share the cache between
>    users'. I do not know how recent"
> At least since version 2.4, released 2004-09-13.
>    "or robust this is."
> On a multi-user machine with a local ccache directory, I'd say that it's
> as robust as for single-user usage. On NFS, probably less robust.

I'll rework this verbiage soon.

> That's still true. I think it would be quite easy for ccache to support
> linking as well, but I've always thought that it rarely would be useful
> since the cache hit rate for linking typically will be low. Do you have
> any gut feeling or statistics about this -- won't you just fill up the
> cache with libraries/executables that seldom will be reused?

Certainly the hit rate for links will typically be low. I have no
statistics, but I agree that it may not make sense for ccache to add
this feature. In the case of AO it just kind of "falls out" because AO
(again, configurably, but by default) stores all generated artifacts
and is agnostic as to whether they're the result of a compile, a link,
or anything else. Since acting as a cache is only part of what AO is
intended to do, I'd say at this point that storing all artifacts has
value whether they're reused or not. But that's certainly subject to

>    "AO imposes a certain overhead on commands which it actually runs
>    (as opposed to replaying). A typical penalty for the initial build
>    of a piece of software might be 10%, though it is sometimes more and
>    often dramatically less. CCACHE does too, because it must exec the
>    compiler twice for each logical compilation, but the CCACHE overhead
>    appears to be somewhat less."
> ccache (on a direct mode cache miss) first runs the preprocessor and
> then (on a preprocessor mode cache miss) compiles the output from the
> preprocessor, so saying that it runs the compiler twice is a bit
> misleading.

Agreed. I didn't realize this about ccache. Has it always been this
way? I'll clarify.

>    "CCACHE is only useful when building objects you already have. Why
>    would someone want to rebuild something they already have? Most
>    commonly because they don't fully trust their build system and only
>    feel safe with a clean build from scratch."
> Nowadays, I think that other scenarios are at least as common as the
> "make clean; make" case. Quoting from http://ccache.samba.org: "[...]
> Another reason to use ccache is that the same cache is used for builds
> in different directories. If you have several versions or branches of a
> software stored in different directories, many of the object files in a
> build directory can probably be taken from the cache even if they were
> compiled for another version or branch. A third scenario is using ccache
> to speed up clean builds performed by servers or build farms that
> regularly check that the code is buildable."


> Regarding "ACTUAL TIMINGS", I think you should mention what ccache
> version you used. Compared to earlier versions, ccache 3.0 and higher is
> faster for the second pass and slightly slower for the first pass. See
> http://ccache.samba.org/performance.html.

Boy, I don't even remember what version of ccache I used. I know I
wrote this document a year or more ago so it was probably 2.4. I'll
put an update on the TODO list.

> One case where I think that ccache actually is more robust than AO is
> when an object file should change even if no files have changed. For
> instance, the expansion of the preprocessor macros __TIME__, __DATE__
> and __FILE__ change independently of the source code files.

__TIME__ and __DATE__, yes. __FILE__? Doesn't look like an absolute path to me.

> Also, when
> compiling with GCC and the -g option, an absolute path to the source
> file is embedded in the object file, which means that if you just cache
> the object file, the wrong path is included in the object file if it's
> compiled from source located in another directory.

Yes, good point. I suspect this may be addressable with some settings
in .gdbinit (search paths, etc) but at least "out of the box" it's an

David Boyce

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