How to build Graphene?


This page really belongs to devel/, move it there after a proper release. Instead, for all users, there should be documentation for installing without full compilation.

Graphene consists of three parts:

  • An instrumented GNU C Library

  • The Library OS itself (a shared library named, called the “shim” in our source code)

  • The Platform Adaptation Layer, or PAL (a shared library named


Graphene currently only works on the x86_64 architecture. Graphene is currently tested on Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04 (both server and desktop version), along with Linux kernel versions 3.x/4.x/5.x. We recommend building and installing Graphene on the same host platform. If you find problems with Graphene on other Linux distributions, please contact us with a detailed bug report.

Run the following command on Ubuntu to install dependencies for Graphene:

sudo apt-get install -y build-essential autoconf gawk bison

For building Graphene for SGX, run the following command in addition:

sudo apt-get install -y libprotobuf-c-dev protobuf-c-compiler \

# For Ubuntu 18.04
sudo apt-get install -y python3-protobuf

# For Ubuntu 16.04
sudo apt install -y python3-pip
sudo /usr/bin/pip3 install protobuf

To run tests locally, you also need the python3-pytest package:

sudo apt-get install -y python3-pytest

To build Graphene, simply run the following commands in the root of the source tree:

git submodule update --init -- Pal/src/host/Linux-SGX/sgx-driver/


Each part of Graphene can be built separately in the subdirectories.

To build Graphene with debug symbols, run make DEBUG=1 instead of make. To specify custom mirrors for downloading the Glibc source, use make GLIBC_MIRRORS=....

To build with -Werror, run make WERROR=1.

Building with Intel SGX Support


1. Install the Linux kernel patched with FSGSBASE

FSGSBASE is a feature in recent processors which allows direct access to the FS and GS segment base addresses. For more information about FSGSBASE and its benefits, see this discussion.

Work is being done to include FSGSBASE enabling in the upstream Linux kernel. Currently, the FSGSBASE enabling code is out-of-tree, requiring some patches to the kernel.

Enabling FSGSBASE support requires building and installing a custom kernel with backported patches. The instructions to patch and compile a Linux kernel with FSGSBASE support below are written around Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) with a Linux 5.4 LTS stable kernel but can be adapted for other distros as necessary. These instructions ensure that the resulting kernel has FSGSBASE support and up to date security mitigations.

  1. Setup a build environment for kernel development following the instructions in the Ubuntu wiki. Clone Linux version 5.4 via:

    git clone --single-branch --branch linux-5.4.y \
    cd linux
  2. Apply the provided FSGSBASE patches to the kernel source tree:

    git am <graphene-dir>/Pal/src/host/Linux-SGX/sgx-driver/fsgsbase_patches/*.patch

    The conversation regarding this patchset can be found in the kernel mailing list archives here.

  3. Build and install the kernel following the instructions in the Ubuntu wiki.

  4. After rebooting, verify the patched kernel is the one that has been booted and is running:

    uname -r
  5. Also verify that the patched kernel supports FSGSBASE (the below command must return that bit 2 is set):

    LD_SHOW_AUXV=1 /bin/true | grep AT_HWCAP2

After the patched Linux kernel is installed, you may proceed with installations of other SGX software infrastructure: the Intel SGX Linux driver, the Intel SGX SDK/PSW, and Graphene itself (see next steps). Note that older versions of these software packages may not work with recent Linux kernels like 5.4. We recommend to use commit b7ccf6f of the Intel SGX Linux Driver for Intel SGX DCAP and commit 0e71c22 of the Intel SGX SDK/PSW.

2. Generate signing keys

A 3072-bit RSA private key (PEM format) is required for signing the manifest. If you don’t have a private key, create it with the following command:

openssl genrsa -3 -out enclave-key.pem 3072

You can either place the generated enclave key in the default path, Pal/src/host/Linux-SGX/signer/enclave-key.pem, or specify the key’s location through the environment variable SGX_SIGNER_KEY.

After signing the application’s manifest, users may ship the application and Graphene binaries, along with an SGX-specific manifest (.manifest.sgx extension), the signature (.sig extension), and the aesmd init token (.token extension) to execute on another SGX-enabled host.

3. Install the Intel SGX driver and SDK/PSW

The Intel SGX Linux SDK and the Intel SGX driver are required to compile and run Graphene on SGX. Download and install them from the official Intel GitHub repositories:

Alternatively, if you want to use the DCAP versions of the SDK and driver, download and install it from:

4. Install the Graphene SGX driver (not for production)

If you followed step 1 and installed the patched Linux kernel, skip this step. Otherwise, you will need a Graphene-specific Linux driver that enables the FSGSBASE feature available in recent processors.

To install the Graphene SGX driver, run the following commands:

cd Pal/src/host/Linux-SGX/sgx-driver
# the console will prompt you for the path to the Intel SGX driver code
# (simply press ENTER if you use the in-kernel Intel SGX driver)
sudo insmod gsgx.ko

Building Graphene-SGX

To build Graphene with Intel SGX support, in the root directory of Graphene repo, run the following command:

make SGX=1

To build with debug symbols, instead run the command:

make SGX=1 DEBUG=1

Running make SGX=1 in the test or regression directory will automatically generate the required manifest signatures (.sig files).

Deprecated features

Building with kernel-level sandboxing (optional)

This feature is marked as EXPERIMENTAL and no longer exists on the master branch.