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This page is an introduction to the compilation of VLC for Android on Linux.

Android Studio, SDK and NDK installation


  • You MUST build on Linux (or OSX if you know what you are doing).
  • The following packages MUST must be installed:
    • the GNU autotools: autoconf, libtool, automake and make (a.k.a. gmake)
    • ...and their dependencies: m4 and gawk, mawk or nawk,
    • the GNU C and C++ compilers a.k.a. gcc and g++,
    • some GNU build utilities: pkg-config and patch,
    • the following other build utilities: Apache Ant (or Ant), cmake, protobuf, ragel,
    • the Subversion and Git version control systems
    • unzip and either curl or wget for retreiving sources.
  • Very recent versions of some of those tools may be required. At the time of writing, notably gettext 0.19.3 or later is required.
  • If any of the above is missing, expect the build to fail at some point.
  • If targeting an Android-x86 device, yasm must be installed too.

Precise lists of tools dependencies is listed here.

64-bit users: You must install these 32-bit libs as specified here: #Can.27t_run_aapt_or_adb_on_Linux_64-bit

Example on Ubuntu

Install the packages as follow:

sudo apt-get install automake ant autopoint cmake build-essential libtool-bin \
     patch pkg-config protobuf-compiler ragel subversion unzip git \
    openjdk-8-jre openjdk-8-jdk flex python wget

SDK & Android Studio

  1. Go to Android SDK/IDE page.
  2. Android Studio is recommended, but not mandatory!

Android NDK

  1. Check that the SDK installation is correct.
  2. Go to the Android NDK page and download the NDK r21 for Linux.
  3. Decompress it to install

Environment setup

Set $ANDROID_SDK to point to your Android SDK directory

export ANDROID_SDK=/path/to/android-sdk

Set $ANDROID_NDK to point to your Android NDK directory

export ANDROID_NDK=/path/to/android-ndk

Add some useful binaries to your $PATH

export PATH=$PATH:$ANDROID_SDK/platform-tools:$ANDROID_SDK/tools


Get VLC Source

Clone the source from the VLC git!

In your android source folder, run:

git clone

Setup Gradle build system

Before using Android studio to compile the app, you must run once to set up gradle build system.

It should automatically populate mandatory and files with:

sdk.dir=<SDK path from $ANDROID_SDK>
ndk.dir=<NDK path from $ANDROID_NDK>

This sets up gradle to build with correct SDK/NDK.

Once this first compilation has succeeded, you can build from Android Studio with the Run command.


Find the ABI for the target device.

  • For a normal (2012-2015 consumer phone or tablet) device (e.g. Cortex-A8 or Cortex-A9)
  • For a Tegra2 device (no NEON)
  • For an ARMv6 device
  • For an ARMv6 device that does not support FPU
  • For an ARMv5 device or the Android Emulator
  • For a x86 device (e.g. Android-x86, Google TV, Logitech TV, Android x86 smartphones, etc)
  • For a MIPS device (i.e. Ainol Novo tablets):

This value must be passed to the script


Read first, as it contains some very useful and important information. Then run it:

buildsystem/ -a <ABI>

Note: At this point, you will get an auto-generated debug APK in the vlc-android/build/outputs/apk folder, signed with a debug key.

In order to build a non-debug (release, and unsigned) package:

buildsystem/ release

Note: At this point, you will get an release APK in the same folder.

Build LibVLC

To build LibVLC, simply pass the -l option:

buildsystem/ -l -a <ABI> -r

.aar archive will be located in libvlc/build/outputs/aar/

Gradle tweaks

To improve gradle execution time, try these options by writing this in in vlc android project. Or directly in your ~/.gradle/

# If you have a BUNCH of RAM available


Run it and enjoy!


Compilation error on Dependencies

Sometimes, especially when gradle dependencies have been upgraded, the will fail to refetch dependencies. Just close Android Studio and re-run the script to fix this issue.


Here are some helpful links if you wish to debug VLC on Android:

Native debugging

If you run VLC Android and you get a crash that looks something like this:

I/DEBUG   (  958): *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
I/DEBUG   (  958): Build fingerprint: 'MOTO/MBTCA/sesame/XT300:2.1-update1/SESLA_U3_01.71.0/110110:user/release-keys'
I/DEBUG   (  958): pid: 1733, tid: 1733 >>> org.videolan.vlc <<<
I/DEBUG   (  958): signal 11 (SIGSEGV), fault addr 4237be3c
I/DEBUG   (  958):  r0 423640a0  r1 7ece77ac  r2 42bccdac  r3 4237be38
I/DEBUG   (  958):  r4 00000000  r5 42bccdac  r6 002ed088  r7 002ed018
I/DEBUG   (  958):  r8 7ece78e8  r9 2bafa844  10 0000000e  fp 7ece794c
I/DEBUG   (  958):  ip 00002ba0  sp 7ece7784  lr 423652e4  pc 4237be3c  cpsr 60000010
I/DEBUG   (  958):          #00  pc 0037be3c  /data/data/org.videolan.vlc/lib/
I/DEBUG   (  958):          #01  lr 423652e4  /data/data/org.videolan.vlc/lib/

You have a native crash. To debug it, you need to have compiled VLC as above and installed it on your device. Once your compiled VLC build is on your device, you can find the backtrace as follows:

  1. Make sure you are in the directory that you checked out VLC-Android in.
  2. Migrate the libvlc folders. (Do this every time the code is recompiled)
    1. cp -r libvlc/jni vlc-android
    2. cp -r libvlc/libs vlc-android
    3. cp -r libvlc/obj vlc-android
    4. (This is because the libvlc and VLC for Android folders were split yet the debugger needs the object files from both.)
  3. cd vlc-android
  4. $ANDROID_NDK/ndk-gdb --verbose --force --start

At this point, lots of stuff will appear:

Android NDK installation path: /opt/android-ndk-r8c
Using default adb command: /opt/android-sdk-linux_x86/platform-tools/adb
ADB version found: Android Debug Bridge version 1.0.29
Using ADB flags: 
Using auto-detected project path: .
Found package name: org.videolan.vlc
...bunch of stuff skipped...
GNU gdb (GDB) 7.3.1-gg2
Copyright (C) 2011 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.  Type "show copying"
and "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "--host=x86_64-linux-gnu --target=arm-linux-android".
For bug reporting instructions, please see:
Remote debugging from host
...bunch of stuff skipped...
libthread_db:td_ta_new: Victory: We can debug theads!
warning: Breakpoint address adjusted from 0x400deaa5 to 0x400deaa4.
0x40107a40 in epoll_wait () from /media/data/vlc_android/vlc-android/obj/local/armeabi/
  1. At this point, type in "continue" and press Enter.
  2. Perform the actions you did to make it crash. It will spit out something like this:
Program received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x401120ae in ?? () from /media/data/vlc_android/vlc-android/obj/local/armeabi/
  1. Now, just type in "bt full" (excluding the quotation marks) and press Enter. That is your backtrace that you should give to the developers when they ask for it (possibly on a pastebin, too).
(gdb) bt full
#0  0x401120ae in ?? () from /media/data/vlc_android/vlc-android/obj/local/armeabi/
No symbol table info available.
#1  0x40107bd8 in abort () from /media/data/vlc_android/vlc-android/obj/local/armeabi/
No symbol table info available.
#2  0x40118e6a in __assert2 () from /media/data/vlc_android/vlc-android/obj/local/armeabi/
No symbol table info available.
#3  0x5e0cdfdc in var_SetChecked (p_this=0x40134b94, psz_name=0x5ea2fcb8 "rate", expected_type=80, val=...) at ../../src/misc/variables.c:711
        i_ret = 0
        p_var = <optimized out>
        oldval = {i_int = 4742037487051810480, b_bool = 176, f_float = 2.27765068e+14, psz_string = 0x574f26b0 "X\270|B\001\001", p_address = 0x574f26b0, 
          p_object = 0x574f26b0, p_list = 0x574f26b0, i_time = 4742037487051810480, coords = {x = 1464805040, y = 1104091640}}
        __func__ = "var_SetChecked"
        p_priv = <optimized out>
#4  0x5e06dd9c in var_SetFloat (f=1.41421354, psz_name=0x5ea2fcb8 "rate____sample_backtrace", p_obj=0x0) at ../../include/vlc_variables.h:262
        val = <optimized out>
#5  libvlc_media_player_set_rate (p_mi=0x0, rate=1.41421354) at ../../lib/media_player.c:1252
        p_input_thread = <optimized out>
#6  0x5de7bd18 in Java_org_videolan_vlc_LibVLC_setRate (env=0x41cf0470, thiz=0x8ab00021, rate=1.41421354) at jni/libvlcjni.c:678
        mp = 0x0
#7  0x4076de34 in ?? ()
No symbol table info available.
#8  0x4076de34 in ?? ()
No symbol table info available.
Backtrace stopped: previous frame identical to this frame (corrupt stack?)


Outdated Awk

If you receive the error message while building:

Android NDK: Host 'awk' tool is outdated. Please define HOST_AWK to point to Gawk or Nawk !    

The prebuilt version of Awk that comes with the Android NDK is outdated. Defining HOST_AWK in your environment does nothing as the system still tries to just the one that comes with the Android NDK. To get around this issue, simply rename or delete the Awk binary that comes with the Android NDK. For example to move it:

mv $ANDROID_NDK/prebuilt/linux-x86/bin/awk $ANDROID_NDK/prebuilt/linux-x86/bin/awk.old

Can't find Ant

If you're new to Ant, please be aware that some Linux distributions don't install it in the usual spot as with other programs. Try checking to see if the directory /usr/share/java/apache-ant/bin exists and add it to your path.

Outdated autotools-dev

If you get the following error message you may have have an outdated version of autotools-dev:

 Invalid configuration `arm-linux-androideabi': system `androideabi' not recognized

You may first want to check if your distribution has any available updates for this package. Alternatively, you can manually update your config.guess and config.sub files from here: [1]. These files are typically located in /usr/share/misc on Debian based distributions.

autoreconf: automake failed with exit status: 1

automake: warnings are treated as errors warning: The 'AM_PROG_MKDIR_P' macro is deprecated, and will soon be removed. You should use the Autoconf-provided 'AC_PROG_MKDIR_P' macro instead, and use '$(MKDIR_P)' instead of '$(mkdir_p)'in your files.

If you are using Automake 1.13 or higher, you must remove -Werror from vlc/contrib/android/gnutls/ to continue. (First reported in [2])

autoreconf: automake failed with exit status: 1

make: *** [dvdnav] Error 1
... error: possibly undefined macro: AM_PROG_LIBTOOL

This error may occur when compiling with an older Linux distribution, such as Ubuntu 12.04, that doesn't meet bootstrap prerequisites. As of 2014-08-09, the master branch for vlc-ports/android.git [3] lacks patch 5199 [4]. Without the patch, builds out dated automake and autoconf that may not access libtool despite presence of a current libtool binary amongst supporting tools and a similar or more recent binary present as part of the OS.

To work around this error, patch the master branch or update the prerequisites. For Ubuntu 12.04, upgrade autoconf, automake, and cmake as dictated by vlc/extras/tools/bootstrap.

Can't run aapt or adb on Linux 64-bit

You must install the 32-bit libraries of the following libraries, as the precompiled Google binaries depend on them: libc6, libstdc++6, and zlib.

New versions of Debian and/or Ubuntu require you to install i386 versions of packages:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install zlib1g:i386 libstdc++6:i386 libc6:i386

If you are under old versions of Ubuntu, install ia32-libs can help you solve this issue.

sudo apt-get install ia32-libs

See also