Setting up a build machine for Visual Studio 2017

Recently we’ve had a patch submitted to support the latest incarnation of the Microsoft build tools, Visual Studio 2017. I didn’t have a spare Windows machine available to test with, so I set up Windows machine on Amazon AWS to test with. I chose Windows Server 2016, a t2.medium instance with a 50 GB root disk (The default 30Gb is a bit tight.) This costs about US$0.065 per hour to run, so it’s pretty cheap.

The first things I did, as I always do with these machines, were to turn off Internet Enhanced Security, which has a habit of getting in the way, and then install the Firefox web browser. Then I installed the Chocolatey package manager for Windows. This is a pretty useful tool, somewhat similar to yum, dnf and apt. You need to install this via an administrative command shell. Once it was installed, in the same command shell I installed some more needed things, like this:

choco install -y git
choco install -y winflexbison
choco install y diffutils

It’s useful to have the wget utility and a decent editor and file viewer, so I did this:

choco install -y wget
choco install -y less
choco install -y emacs

Other editors available include vim, atom and notepadplusplus. Choose your poison.

After that I installed the Microsoft stuff:

choco install -y visualstudio2017buildtools
choco install -y visualcpp-build-tools --params "'/IncludeOptional'"

The last thing needed was Perl. Unfortunately, the chocolately package for ActivePerl currently fails, referring to a file no longer on ActiveState’s site, so I went direct to ActiveState and downloaded and installed the latest Perl from there.

Next I adjusted the names of the flex and bison binaries. These are annoyingly named win_flex.exe and win_bison.exe, and our build tools expect plain flex.exe and bison.exe. They live in the directory c:\ProgramData\chocolatey\bin.

Finally, I needed a non-administrative user to run the build as – the regression tests fail the tablespace test when run as an adminstrative user. So I did this (with a different password):

net user pgrunner wkarg2641! /add
runas /user:pgrunner cmd

In this new command shell, I needed to set up the environment for building. I did this:

cd "\Program Files(x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\BuildTools\VC\Auxiliary\Build"
vcvarsall x64

That set me up with all the path and environment settings required to run 64 bit builds. Next I needed to get the Postgres source and apply the patch I was testing:

mkdir \prog
cd \prog
git clone
cd postgresql
git apply ..\0001-vs-2017-support_v2.patch

Finally it was time to build and test:

cd src\tools\msvc
vcregress check

And the build and regression set ran happily.

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