WebKitGTK+ failing to build, argument list too long

The last few days I have been unable to build WebKitGTK+ from git.

The problem is that make chokes the command line with an insanely long list of file names. You need a patched version of make.

Pictured: myself debugging WebKit build issues.

Gustavo told me that WebKit has some handy jhbuild scripts that include a patched make.

Being WebKit-scale I knew the scripts did a lot more than what I wanted, so I just reused its moduleset for a quick buildone command:

$ cd WebKit/Tools/gtk/
$ jhbuild -m file://`pwd`/jhbuild.modules buildone make

And yes, it works! Thanks Gustavo.

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11 Responses to WebKitGTK+ failing to build, argument list too long

  1. Jonathan says:

    (hm, let’s try that again)

    Has the bug been filed at

  2. Ross Burton says:

    You need a patched make to build webkit? That’s certainly a bold move…

  3. diegoe says:

    Yeah. Pushing the limits of mankind. That’s webkit.

  4. xan says:

    @Jonathan: we reported the bug a long time ago. A patch was made. In the end it was rejected to maintain compatibility with older UNIX systems.

    I guess we should try to either push that again or somehow change your build system to avoid this issue. Bugs in the toolchain suck.

  5. Stefano Teso says:

    Is there any way to instruct jhbuild to use the patched make binary automatically?

  6. diegoe says:


    The jhbuilt make will be installed in $jhbuild-prefix/bin, so it will be used automatically.

    Just like anything in /usr/bin is after you just install it.

  7. ralpht says:

    I’m assuming that it fails linking WebCore, which is a really long argument list. Can you tweak the makefile to build a response file containing the arguments (ld will accept arguments in a file using the “@argsfile” command line syntax)?

  8. Alex says:

    Um…is it really necessary to call make with that many arguments? This just doesn’t smell right.

  9. mclasen says:

    When I was running into this a while ago, I found that make V=1 worked around it. Don’t ask me why.

  10. Jan de Groot says:

    It builds with standard make when you use –disable-silent-rules.

  11. ncopa says:

    any links to the mentioned patch(es)? Both to the gnu make patch and to the build system (the one that got rejected)

    I have the same issue and –disable-silent-rules does not help here.

    make: execvp: /bin/bash: Argument list too long

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