Dave Beckett

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since 2005.


(See DOAP Project)

Rasqal RDF Query Library - Building and Installing from Source

1. Getting the sources

There are several ways to get the sources. The most stable and tested versions are the sources shipped with each release and these are recommended as the first place to start. If you want to get a newer set, then there are nightly snapshots made of the development sources, which may not yet be committed to GIT. For the latest development sources, anonymous GIT access is available but this may require some configuring of developer tools that are not needed for the snapshot releases.

The source bundle and package files contain all the HTML files and documentation provided on the web site.

1.1 Getting the sources from releases

This is the recommended source to build and install Rasqal. It ensures that a tested and working set of files are used.

The sources are available from

1.2 Getting the sources from GIT

This is the recommended source for developers. It provides the latest beta or unstable code. For a stable version, use a release as described above.

  git clone git://
  cd rasqal

At this stage, or after a git pull you will need to create the automake and autoconf derived files, as described below in Create the configure program by using the script.

Building Rasqal in this way requires some particular development tools not needed when building from snapshot releases - automake, autoconf, libtool, gtk-doc and dependencies. The script looks for the newest versions of the auto* tools and checks that they meet the minimum versions.

Building from development sources rather than from a release also requires some additional development tools. Presently this includes the flex scanner generator version 2.5.31 or later and the GNU Bison parser generator. The configure script checks that the minimum versions are present. There are optional dependencies that will be used if present such as MPFR or GMP for decimal arithmetic and PCRE for regex support.

2. Configuring and building

Rasqal uses the GNU automake and autoconf to handle system dependency checking. It is developed and built on x86 Linux and x86 OSX but is also tested on other systems occasionally.

Required (Rasqal will not build without these):

  • The Raptor RDF Syntax Library version 2.0.4 or later for parsing RDF, retrieving WWW content from URIs and other utility classes.

Recommended (Optional):

If some of the recommended libraries are not present some of the tests will fail and the query engine will fail to handle regex matches or decimal arithmetic accurately.

2.1. Create configure program

If there is a configure program, skip to the next section.

If there is no configure program, you should create it using the script, as long as you have the automake and autoconf tools. This is done by:


and you can also pass along arguments intended for configure (see below for what these are):

  ./ --prefix=/usr/local/somewhere

On OSX you may have to explicitly set the LIBTOOLIZE variable for the libtoolize utility since on OSX libtoolize is a different program:

  LIBTOOLIZE=glibtoolize ./ also checks out the libmtwist GIT submodule and/or updates it with the latest sources.

Alternatively you can run them by hand (not recommended) with:

  aclocal; autoheader; automake --add-missing; autoconf

however this will not do any of the GIT submodule checkout or updates that are needed for libmtwist.

The automake and autoconf tools have many different versions and at present development is being done with automake 1.11.1 (minimum version 1.11), autoconf 2.65 (minimum version 2.62) and libtool 2.2.10 (minimum version 2.2.0). These are only needed when compiling from GIT sources. enforces the requirements.

Rasqal also requires flex version 2.5.31 or newer (2.5.4 will not work) and GNU Bison to build lexers and parsers. These are only required when building from GIT.

2.2 Options for configure

Rasqal's configure supports the following options:


Enable debugging statements for developing the code. Should NOT be used with any regular build that is installed since it slows the code and generates lots of extra output. This is a maintainer option.


Select the RDF query languages to build from the list:
sparql laqrs
The default when this option is omitted is to enable all query languages except the experimental one, laqrs. LANGUAGES takes a space-separated value.


Enable configuration for building a release by not removing -O options for compiler flags. This is a maintainer option.


Pick the message digest library approach to use from the choices of mhash (the default when available), gcrypt (when libgcrypt is available) and internal (always available, providing only MD5 and SHA1).


Set the installation path for the GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library (GMP) if it is not in the standard lib/include prefix.


Set the path of the libgcrypt libgcrypt-config program that provides the compiling and linking flags. Enables libgcrypt for use as a message digest. See also --with-digest-library


Enable signing of memory allocations so that when memory is allocated with malloc() and released free(), a check is made that the memory was allocated in the same library.


Set the installation path for the GNU multiple-precision floating-point library (MPFR) if it is not in the standard lib/include prefix.


Pick the random number generator approach to use from the choices of mtwist (the default - this is bundled with rasqal and can be used without any additional installs), gmp (when GMP is available and used for decimals), random_r (glibc initstate_r and random_r), rand_r (POSIX rand_r), random (BSD initstate and random) and rand (POSIX srand and rand).


Pick a regex library to use - either pcre (default) for the PCRE or posix a POSIX regex implementation in the C library


Set the path to the PCRE pcre-config program

2.3 Configuring

The default configuration will install into /usr/local:


To install into the standard Unix / Linux (and also Cygwin) system directory, use:

   ./configure --prefix=/usr

Append to the line any additional options you need like this:

   ./configure --prefix=/usr --enable-query-languages=sparql

The configure script uses pkg-config(1) to find an installed version of Raptor . If configure reports that it cannot find Raptor, try $ pkg-config raptor2 --modversion on the command line and if there is an error or nothing is shown, then pkg-config is not properly installed and configured. Use 'man pkg-config(1)' to read how to set PKG_CONFIG_PATH which should include a directory where raptor2.pc is installed. When it is correct, the above command will return the Raptor version.

2.4 Compiling

Compile the library and the roqet utility with:


Note: GNU make is probably required which may be called gmake or gnumake if your system has a different make available too.

2.5 Testing

Rasqal has a built-in test suite that can be invoked with:

  make check

which should emit lots of exciting test messages to the screen but conclude with something like:
All n tests passed
if everything works correctly. There might be some regex or decimal tests that fail if no POSIX regex library or multiple precision numeric library was available when Rasqal was compiled.

2.6 Installing

Install the library and the roqet utility into the area configure with --prefix (or /usr/local if not given) with:

   make install

Note: This may require root access if the destination area is a system directory such as /usr. In that case you may have to do sudo make install.

3. Using the library

3.1 Documentation

Rasqal includes a reference manual for the library but no tutorial at this time. This is installed into PREFIX/share/gtk-doc/html/rasqal and is also available from the Rasqal web site.

3.2 Examples

At present, to get a good idea of how to use Rasqal in a program, check out the source for roqet in src/roqet.c which uses the library extensively with the recommended APIs.

3.3 roqet utility

Rasqal provides an RDF query utility program called roqet which can do a variety of query operations on local and remote data, local and remote queries and running queries on SPARQL protocol services.

See the roqet manual page for full details using 'man roqet' or read the HTML version in docs/roqet.html or on the Rasqal website.