Build qemu-user-static from source code

qemu-user-static is an important tool for cross-architecture developers. It allows developers to create a chroot environment and run the cross-compiled programs. For example, a developer may run an AArch64 executable without the overhead of system-level emulation.

I usually install the qemu-user-static binaries from Ubuntu apt repository. However, I encountered some bugs that have been fixed in the QEMU upstream but the fixes haven't been back ported to the Ubuntu deb package. Thus, I decided to build qemu-user-static from source code.


Install the QEMU build dependencies with:

$ sudo apt-get build-dep qemu

Download QEMU source code with:

$ git clone git://
$ cd qemu
$ git submodule update --init --recursive

Configure QEMU with --static, --disable-system, and --enable-linux-user:

$ ./configure \
    --prefix=$(cd ..; pwd)/qemu-user-static \
    --static \
    --disable-system \


Specifying --disable-system disables softmmu targets. It is a known issue that softmmu targets rely on some shared libraries. Those softmmu targets will cause link error if --static is specified.

Build and install QEMU with:

$ make -j8
$ make install

Add -static suffix to executables so that qemu-debootstrap can pick up these executables:

$ cd ../qemu-user-static/bin
$ for i in *; do cp $i $i-static; done