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Build a Standalone Executable

By Eric R. Schulz Mar 28 2016 12:15 Tools Comments

luastatic is a command line tool that builds a standalone executable from a Lua program. The executable runs on systems that do not have Lua installed because Lua is embedded alongside the program. Lua 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 and LuaJIT are supported. luastatic can be downloaded from GitHub or LuaRocks.

Lua is commonly used as an embeddable scripting language as part of a larger program written in another language. However, Lua can also be the primary language used to implement a program. Programmers using C are accustomed to building an application to a single executable that is distributed to the end user. luastatic does the same for Lua programs.

Below is a description of the arguments luastatic supports:

luastatic main.lua[1] require.lua[2] liblua.a[3] module.a[4] -Iinclude/lua[5] [6]
[1]: The entry point to the Lua program
[2]: One or more required Lua source files
[3]: The Lua interpreter static library
[4]: One or more static libraries for a required Lua binary module
[5]: The path to the directory containing lua.h
[6]: Additional arguments are passed to the C compiler

The shell script below shows how to use luastatic to build this program for GNU/Linux and Windows. The program uses Lua, LuaSQLite3, and SQLite3. I tested the script on Ubuntu 15.04.


# download build tools (if necessary)
sudo apt-get install build-essential make mingw-w64 unzip libreadline-dev

# download program dependencies
wget -O simple.lua

# extract dependencies
tar -xf lua-5.2.4.tar.gz

# create build directories
mkdir linux windows
cp simple.lua linux
cp simple.lua windows

# build Lua for GNU/Linux
cd lua-5.2.4
make linux
mv src/lua ../
mv src/liblua.a ../linux
make clean
# build Lua for Windows
make mingw CC=x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc
mv src/liblua.a ../windows
cd ../

# build luastatic using itself
./lua luastatic.lua luastatic.lua linux/liblua.a -Ilua-5.2.4/src
cp ./luastatic linux
cp ./luastatic windows

# build SQLite3 for GNU/Linux
cd sqlite-amalgamation-3110100
cc -c -O2 sqlite3.c -o sqlite3.o
ar rcs ../linux/sqlite3.a sqlite3.o
# build SQLite3 for Windows
x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc -c -O2 sqlite3.c -o sqlite3.o
x86_64-w64-mingw32-ar rcs ../windows/sqlite3.a sqlite3.o
cd ../

# build LuaSQLite3 for GNU/Linux
cd lsqlite3_fsl09w
cc -c -O2 lsqlite3.c -I../sqlite-amalgamation-3110100 -I../lua-5.2.4/src -o lsqlite3.o
ar rcs ../linux/lsqlite3.a lsqlite3.o
# build LuaSQLite3 for Windows
x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc -c -O2 lsqlite3.c -I../sqlite-amalgamation-3110100 -I../lua-5.2.4/src -o lsqlite3.o
x86_64-w64-mingw32-ar rcs ../windows/lsqlite3.a lsqlite3.o
cd ../

# build simple.lua for GNU/Linux
cd linux
./luastatic simple.lua liblua.a lsqlite3.a sqlite3.a -I../lua-5.2.4/src -lpthread
strip simple
cd ../

# build simple.lua for Windows
cd windows
CC=x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc ./luastatic simple.lua liblua.a lsqlite3.a sqlite3.a -I../lua-5.2.4/src -lpthread
strip simple.exe

luastatic generates the C source file simple.lua.c containing the Lua program and runs the following command to build the executable:

cc -Os simple.lua.c lsqlite3.a liblua.a sqlite3.a -rdynamic -lm -ldl -I../lua-5.2.4/src -lpthread -o simple

If you are familiar with C you can read the file simple.lua.c to see the generated calls to the Lua C API.

If you find a program that luastatic does not build or where the resulting executable does not behave the same as when run with Lua, please report the issue or email with enough detail to reproduce the build.

About Eric R. Schulz

Eric is a software developer from the United States.


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