osquery supports many flavors of Linux, macOS, and Windows.

While osquery runs on a large number of operating systems, we only provide build instructions for a select few.

The supported compilers are: the osquery toolchain (LLVM/Clang 9.0.1) on Linux, MSVC v141 on Windows, and AppleClang from Xcode Command Line Tools 10.2.1.


Git (>= 2.14.0), CMake (>= 3.14.6), Python 3 are required to build. The rest of the dependencies are downloaded by CMake.

The default build type is RelWithDebInfo (optimizations active + debug symbols) and can be changed in the CMake configure phase by setting the CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE flag to Release or Debug.

The build type is chosen when building on Windows, through the --config option, not during the configure phase.

Note: the recommended system memory for building osquery is at least 8GB, or Clang may crash during the compilation of third-party dependencies.


The root folder is assumed to be /home/<user>.

Ubuntu 18.04/18.10

# Install the prerequisites
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends git python3 bison flex make

# Optional: install python tests prerequisites
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends python3-pip python3-setuptools python3-psutil python3-six python3-wheel
pip3 install timeout_decorator thrift==0.11.0 osquery pexpect==3.3

# Download and install the osquery toolchain
wget https://github.com/osquery/osquery-toolchain/releases/download/1.1.0/osquery-toolchain-1.1.0-x86_64.tar.xz
sudo tar xvf osquery-toolchain-1.1.0-x86_64.tar.xz -C /usr/local

# Download and install a newer CMake
wget https://github.com/Kitware/CMake/releases/download/v3.14.6/cmake-3.14.6-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz
sudo tar xvf cmake-3.14.6-Linux-x86_64.tar.gz -C /usr/local --strip 1
# Verify that `/usr/local/bin` is in the `PATH` and comes before `/usr/bin`

# Download source
git clone https://github.com/osquery/osquery
cd osquery

# Build osquery
mkdir build; cd build
cmake -DOSQUERY_TOOLCHAIN_SYSROOT=/usr/local/osquery-toolchain ..
cmake --build . -j10 # where 10 is the number of parallel build jobs


The root folder is assumed to be /Users/<user>

Step 1: Install the prerequisites

Please ensure Homebrew has been installed, first. Then do the following.

# Install prerequisites
xcode-select --install
brew install git git-lfs cmake python clang-format flex bison

# Optional: install python tests prerequisites
pip3 install setuptools pexpect==3.3 psutil timeout_decorator six thrift==0.11.0 osquery

Step 2: Download and build

A macOS 10.11 deployment target is selected in this example.

# Download source
git clone https://github.com/osquery/osquery
cd osquery

# Configure
mkdir build; cd build

# Build
cmake --build .

Windows 10

The root folder is assumed to be C:\

Note: The intention here is to reduce the length of the prefix of the osquery folder, since Windows and msbuild have a 255 characters max path limit.

Step 1: Install the prerequisites

Note: It may be easier to install these prerequisites using Chocolatey.

  • CMake (>= 3.14.6): the MSI installer is recommended. During installation, select the option to add it to the system PATH for all users. If there is any older version of CMake installed (e.g., using Chocolatey), uninstall that version first! Do not install CMake using the Visual Studio Installer, because it contains an older version than required.
  • Visual Studio 2019 (2 options)
  • Visual Studio 2019 Build Tools Installer (without Visual Studio): In the installer choose the "C++ build tools" workload, then on the right, under "Optional", select "MSVC v141 - VS 2017 C++", "MSVC v142 - VS 2017 C++", "Windows 10 SDK", and "C++ Clang tools for Windows".
  • Visual Studio 2019 Community Installer: In the installer choose the "Desktop development with C++" workload, then on the right, under "Optional", select "MSVC v141 - VS 2017 C++", "MSVC v142 - VS 2017 C++", "Windows 10 SDK", and "C++ Clang tools for Windows".
  • Git for Windows: Select "checkout as-is, commit as-is". Later check "Enable symbolic links" support.
  • Python 3, specifically the 64-bit version.
  • Wix Toolset
  • Strawberry Perl for the OpenSSL formula. It is recommended to install it to the default destination path.
  • 7-Zip if building the Chocolatey package.

Optional: Install python tests prerequisites

Python 3 is assumed to be installed in C:\Program Files\Python37

# Using a PowerShell console
& 'C:\Program Files\Python37\python.exe' -m pip install setuptools psutil timeout_decorator thrift==0.11.0 osquery pywin32

The use of an Administrator shell is recommended because the build process creates symbolic links. These require a special permission to create on Windows, and the simplest solution is to build as Administrator. If you wish, you can instead assign just the SeCreateSymbolicLinkPrivilege permission to the user account. The setting can be found in "Local Security Policy" under Security Settings, Local Policies, User Rights Assignment. The user then has to log out and back in for the policy change to apply.

Step 2: Download and build

# Using a PowerShell console as Administrator (see note, below)
# Download source
git clone https://github.com/osquery/osquery
cd osquery

# Configure
mkdir build; cd build
cmake -G "Visual Studio 16 2019" -A x64 -T v141 ..

# Build
cmake --build . --config RelWithDebInfo -j10 # Number of projects to build in parallel


To build with tests active, add -DOSQUERY_BUILD_TESTS=ON to the osquery configure phase, then build the project. CTest will be used to run the tests and give a report.

Run tests on Windows

To run the tests and get just a summary report:

cmake --build . --config <RelWithDebInfo|Release|Debug> --target run_tests

To get more information when a test fails using PowerShell:

cmake --build . --config <RelWithDebInfo|Release|Debug> --target run_tests

To run a single test, in verbose mode:

ctest -R <test name> -C <RelWithDebInfo|Release|Debug> -V

Run tests on Linux and macOS

To run the tests and get just a summary report:

cmake --build . --target test

To get more information when a test fails:

CTEST_OUTPUT_ON_FAILURE=1 cmake --build . --target test

To run a single test, in verbose mode:

ctest -R <testName> -V

A "single" test case often still involves dozens or hundreds of unit tests. To run a single unit test, you can pass the GTEST_FILTER variable, for example:

GTEST_FILTER=sharedMemory.* ctest -R <testName> -V #runs just the sharedMemory tests under the <testName> set.

Formatting the code

Osquery uses clang-format to format its code, but it's not run on the whole project or files each time; it's run only on the modified lines instead, using custom scripts.

On Linux the clang-format executable is shipped along with the osquery toolchain, and it is the recommended way to run it.
For the other platforms please refer to their Install the prerequisites section if you haven't already.

On Windows remember to update the PATH environment variable with the clang-format root folder, so that the scripts can find it.
You should be able to find clang-format folder in the path where you installed either the Build Tools or the full Visual Studio, and from there VC\Tools\Llvm\bin.

To verify that all the commits that are present on the branch but not on master are properly formatted, run the following command from the build folder:

cmake --build . --target format_check

This is the same command the CI runs to verify formatting.

If the code is not formatted, you can do so with the following command run from the build folder, but the code has to be put in the stage area first if it was already committed:

cmake --build . --target format

To avoid having to move the committed files to the stage area and back each time, remember to format the code before committing.

Running Cppcheck (Linux only)

  1. Install it from the distro repository: apt install cppcheck
  2. Build the cppcheck target cmake --build . --target cppcheck

Running clang-tidy (Linux only)

The clang-tidy executable is shipped along with the osquery toolchain, and it is the recommended way to run it. It is however possible to use the system one, provided it's accessible from the PATH environment variable.

  1. When configuring, pass -DOSQUERY_ENABLE_CLANG_TIDY=ON to CMake
  2. Configure the checks: -DOSQUERY_CLANG_TIDY_CHECKS=check1,check2 (optional)
  3. Build osquery

By default, the following checks are enabled:

  1. cert-*
  2. cppcoreguidelines-*
  3. performance-*
  4. portability-*
  5. readability-*
  6. modernize-*
  7. bugprone-*

Using Vagrant

If you are familiar with Vagrant, there is a helpful configuration in the root directory for testing osquery.

AWS-EC2-Backed Vagrant Targets

The osquery vagrant infrastructure supports leveraging AWS EC2 to run virtual machines. This capability is provided by the vagrant-aws plugin, which is installed as follows:

vagrant plugin install vagrant-aws

Before launching an AWS-backed virtual machine, set a few environment variables:

# Required. Credentials for AWS API. vagrant-aws will error if these are unset.
export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=...
# Name of AWS keypair for launching and accessing the EC2 instance.
export AWS_KEYPAIR_NAME=my-osquery-vagrant-security-group
# Path to local private key for SSH authentication
export AWS_SSH_PRIVATE_KEY_PATH=/path/to/keypair.pem
# Name of AWS security group that allows TCP/22 from vagrant host.
# Leaving this unset may work in some AWS/EC2 configurations.
# If using a non-default VPC use the security group ID instead.
export AWS_SECURITY_GROUP=my-osquery-vagrant-security-group
# Set this to the AWS region, "us-east-1" (default) or "us-west-1".
# Set this to the AWS instance type. If unset, m3.large is used.
export AWS_INSTANCE_TYPE=m3.medium
# (Optional) Set this to the VPC subnet ID.
# (Optional) Make sure your subnet assigns public IPs and there is a route.
export AWS_SUBNET_ID=...

Spin up a VM in EC2 and SSH in (remember to suspend/destroy when finished):

vagrant up aws-amazon2015.03 --provider=aws
vagrant ssh aws-amazon2015.03

Custom Packages

Package creation is facilitated by CPack.

The package will include several components:

  • The executables: osqueryd, osqueryi, and small management script osqueryctl
  • An osquery systemd unit on Linux (with initd script wrapper)
  • An osquery LaunchDaemon on macOS
  • The lenses provided by our Augeas third-party dependency
  • A default, or fall-back, OpenSSL certificate store (found within the repository)
  • The example query packs from the repository
  • Folder structures required for logging

To create a DEB, RPM, or TGZ on Linux, CPack will attempt to auto-detect the appropriate package type. You may override this with the CMake PACKAGING_SYSTEM variable as seen in the example below.

cmake --build . --target package

On macOS the package target will create a .pkg, and on Windows it will create a .msi.

Build Performance

Generating a virtual table should not impact system performance. This is easier said than done, as some tables may seem inherently latent (if you expect to run queries like SELECT * from suid_bin; which performs a complete filesystem traversal looking for binaries with suid permissions). Please read the osquery features and guide on performance safety.

Some quick features include:

  • Performance regression and leak detection CI guards.
  • Blacklisting performance-impacting virtual tables.
  • Scheduled query optimization and profiling.
  • Query implementation isolation options.