Installing googletest By Hand

This is for users of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS which does not come with a proper package for this. There is gtest-dev (or so), but it appears to only contain headers - libraries are missing.

Clone googletest Repo

I use to store Git clones in ~/work (you might like it different),

$ cd ~/work
$ git clone

Create Build Directory

I put mines in ~/build; again, please deviate as you want. Create directory, and cd into it.

$ mkdir -p ~/build/googletest
$ cd ~/build/googletest

CMake, Build and Install

googletest uses CMake to build itself, and this is what the remainder is: explanations of how to do things in CMake.

We pass two parameters down into the CMake build,

  • -std=c++11. googletest uses C++-11 features. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS come with GCC version 5.<something> which does not build C++ as C++-11 by default. You can to force it to, though, by giving it that flag. The CMake way to pass compiler flags through is -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS=-std=c++11.

  • We do not want to become root. I only want to make googletest available to other packages which are built by me myself. So we do not use standard paths (like /usr/local) to install googletest to, but rather $HOME/install/googletest. (Again, please deviate.)

Long story short,

$ pwd
$ cmake -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS=-std=c++11 -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$HOME/install/googletest ~/work/googletest
$ make
$ make install

googletest is now available under /home/jfasch/install/googletest,

$ ls ~/install/googletest/include/gtest/gtest.h
$ ls ~/install/googletest/lib64/libgtest.a

In other words, $HOME/install/googletest is the root of the googletest install. To build other packages to use that install, we have to pass a parameter down into their build. (Did somebody claim life was simlpe?)

Build Packages to Use Our Private googletest Install

One popular such package (to me at least) that wants googletest is my own training site, I’ll take this as a concrete example; others should work just as well. Provided that they use CMake, of course - this is what I’m showing here.

jfasch-home uses a CMake “find module” to determine information about the googletest install, like follows.

Clone that repo,

$ cd ~/work
$ git clone

In the toplevel CMakeLists.txt file, it has,


Down into the tree, in a directory where tests are done, it has,

ADD_TEST(simple simple)

(simple is a test program). The emphasis is on how to use gtest, and the key is GTest::GTest.

So how to pass out private googletest install in?

The ultimate source of information is the code, Luke. Information about CMake “find modules” is hard to come by on the internet; I use to look in the file that implements the “find module”. Remember, in thetoplevel CMakeLists.txt we have FIND_PACKAGE(GTest REQUIRED); from this we know that there must be a file /usr/share/cmake/Modules/FindGTest.cmake. It has its own documentation inside it; read, and know that it accept a CMake variable GTEST_ROOT which does what we want.

$ mkdir ~/build/jfasch-home
$ cmake -DGTEST_ROOT=$HOME/install/googletest ~/work/jfasch-home

Maybe, paranoidly, verbosely verify that $HOME/install/googletest is used,

$ make VERBOSE=1
... watch out for build output that mention our googletest install ...