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Alex Rupérez

Published: 19 Apr 21:19
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FoundationDB - the open source, distributed, transactional key-value store
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FoundationDB logo

FoundationDB is a distributed database designed to handle large volumes of structured data across clusters of commodity servers. It organizes data as an ordered key-value store and employs ACID transactions for all operations. It is especially well-suited for read/write workloads but also has excellent performance for write-intensive workloads. Users interact with the database using API language binding.

To learn more about FoundationDB, visit


Documentation can be found online at The documentation covers details of API usage, background information on design philosophy, and extensive usage examples. Docs are built from the source in this repo.


The FoundationDB Forums are the home for most of the discussion and communication about the FoundationDB project. We welcome your participation! We want FoundationDB to be a great project to be a part of and, as part of that, have established a Code of Conduct to establish what constitutes permissible modes of interaction.


Contributing to FoundationDB can be in contributions to the code base, sharing your experience and insights in the community on the Forums, or contributing to projects that make use of FoundationDB. Please see the contributing guide for more specifics.

Getting Started

Binary downloads

Developers interested in using the FoundationDB store for an application can get started easily by downloading and installing a binary package. Please see the downloads page for a list of available packages.

Compiling from source

Developers on a OS for which there is no binary package, or who would like to start hacking on the code can get started by compiling from source.

Currently there are two build systems: a collection of Makefiles and a CMake-based. Both of them should work for most users and CMake will eventually become the only build system available.



  1. Check out this repo on your Mac.
  2. Install the Xcode command-line tools.
  3. Download version 1.52 of Boost.
  4. Set the BOOSTDIR environment variable to the location containing this boost installation.
  5. Install Mono.
  6. Install a JDK. FoundationDB currently builds with Java 8.
  7. Navigate to the directory where you checked out the foundationdb repo.
  8. Run make.


  1. Install Docker.

  2. Check out the foundationdb repo.

  3. Build Linux docker image using the file Dockerfile located in the build source directory.

    cd /dir/path/foundationdb
    docker build ./build -t <image-tag-name>
  4. Run the docker image interactively Docker Run with the directory containing the foundationdb repo mounted Docker Mounts.

    docker run -it -v '/local/dir/path/foundationdb:/docker/dir/path/foundationdb' <image-tag-name> /bin/bash
  5. Navigate to the container's mounted directory which contains the foundationdb repo.

    cd /docker/dir/path/foundationdb
  6. Run make.

This will build the fdbserver binary and the python bindings. If you want to build our other bindings, you will need to install a runtime for the language whose binding you want to build. Each binding has an .mk file which provides specific targets for that binding.


FoundationDB is currently in the process of migrating the build system to cmake. The CMake build system is currently used by several developers. However, most of the testing and packaging infrastructure still uses the old VisualStudio+Make based build system.

To build with CMake, generally the following is required (works on Linux and Mac OS - for Windows see below):

  1. Check out this repository.
  2. Install cmake Version 3.12 or higher CMake
  3. Download version 1.67 of Boost.
  4. Unpack boost (you don't need to compile it)
  5. Install Mono.
  6. Install a JDK. FoundationDB currently builds with Java 8.
  7. Create a build directory (you can have the build directory anywhere you like): mkdir build
  8. cd build
  10. make

CMake will try to find its dependencies. However, for LibreSSL this can be often problematic (especially if OpenSSL is installed as well). For that we recommend passing the argument -DLibreSSL_ROOT to cmake. So, for example, if you LibreSSL is installed under /usr/local/libressl-2.8.3, you should call cmake like this:

cmake -DLibreSSL_ROOT=/usr/local/libressl-2.8.3/ ../foundationdb

FoundationDB will build just fine without LibreSSL, however, the resulting binaries won't support TLS connections.

Language Bindings

The language bindings that are supported by cmake will have a corresponding file in the corresponding bindings/lang directory.

Generally, cmake will build all language bindings for which it can find all necessary dependencies. After each successful cmake run, cmake will tell you which language bindings it is going to build.

Generating compile_commands.json

CMake can build a compilation database for you. However, the default generated one is not too useful as it operates on the generated files. When running make, the build system will create another compile_commands.json file in the source directory. This can than be used for tools like CCLS, CQuery, etc. This way you can get code-completion and code navigation in flow. It is not yet perfect (it will show a few errors) but we are constantly working on improving the development experience.

Using IDEs

CMake has built in support for a number of popular IDEs. However, because flow files are precompiled with the actor compiler, an IDE will not be very useful as a user will only be presented with the generated code - which is not what she wants to edit and get IDE features for.

The good news is, that it is possible to generate project files for editing flow with a supported IDE. There is a cmake option called OPEN_FOR_IDE which will generate a project which can be opened in an IDE for editing. You won't be able to build this project, but you will be able to edit the files and get most edit and navigation features your IDE supports.

For example, if you want to use XCode to make changes to FoundationDB you can create a XCode-project with the following command:


You should create a second build-directory which you will use for building (probably with make or ninja) and debugging.


There are no special requirements for Linux. However, we are currently working on a Docker-based build as well.

If you want to create a package you have to tell cmake what platform it is for. And then you can build by simply calling cpack. So for debian, call:


For RPM simply replace DEB with RPM.


The build under MacOS will work the same way as on Linux. To get LibreSSL and boost you can use Hombrew. LibreSSL will not be installed in /usr/local instead it will stay in /usr/local/Cellar. So the cmake command will look somethink like this:

cmake -DLibreSSL_ROOT=/usr/local/Cellar/libressl/2.8.3 <PATH_TO_FOUNDATIONDB_SOURCE>

To generate a installable package, you have to call CMake with the corresponding arguments and then use cpack to generate the package:



Under Windows, the build instructions are very similar, with the main difference that Visual Studio is used to compile.

  1. Install Visual Studio 2017 (Community Edition is tested)
  2. Install cmake Version 3.12 or higher CMake
  3. Download version 1.67 of Boost.
  4. Unpack boost (you don't need to compile it)
  5. Install Mono.
  6. Install a JDK. FoundationDB currently builds with Java 8.
  7. Set JAVA_HOME to the unpacked location and JAVA_COMPILE to $JAVA_HOME/bin/javac
  8. (Optional) Install WIX. Without it Visual Studio won't build the Windows installer.
  9. Create a build directory (you can have the build directory anywhere you like): mkdir build
  10. cd build
  11. cmake -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" -DBOOST_ROOT=<PATH_TO_BOOST> <PATH_TO_FOUNDATIONDB_DIRECTORY>
  12. This should succeed. In which case you can build using msbuild: msbuild /p:Configuration=Release fdb.sln. You can also open the resulting solution in Visual Studio and compile from there. However, be aware that using Visual Studio for development is currently not supported as Visual Studio will only know about the generated files.

If you want TLS support to be enabled under Windows you currently have to build and install LibreSSL yourself as the newer LibreSSL versions are not provided for download from the LibreSSL homepage. To build LibreSSL:

  1. Download and unpack libressl (>= 2.8.2)
  2. cd libressl-2.8.2
  3. mkdir build
  4. cd build
  5. cmake -G "Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64" ..
  6. Open the generated LibreSSL.sln in Visual Studio as administrator (this is necessary for the install)
  7. Build the INSTALL project in Release mode

This will install LibreSSL under C:\Program Files\LibreSSL. After that cmake will automatically find it and build with TLS support.

If you installed WIX before running cmake you should find the FDBInstaller.msi in your build directory under packaging/msi.