Building / Cross Compiling OpenCV for Linux ARM

This article outlines the steps necessary for building OpenCV for a Linux ARM target. OpenCV is an open-source, cross-platform computer vision and machine vision library.


I cross compiled OpenCV for a Xilinx Zinq ARM system yesterday by more-or-less following the steps outlined in the above document – I had to change a few things to get the build to work. I am documenting the exact steps that I took in case anybody is having trouble (probably future me!).


I started with a fairly clean Ubuntu install on a virtual machine (it already had git installed) , first I installed some build tools, feel free to skip any that you already have:

sudo apt-get install build-essential
sudo apt-get install cmake

Then I installed the GNU ARM tool-chain:

sudo apt-get install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabi
sudo apt-get install g++-arm-linux-gnueabi

This installed version 4.7 of the compilers while the build process calls for version 4.6, to get around this I modified the cmake platform file slightly, see below.


Create a build directory, cd into it and get the OpenCV source from github:

mkdir opencv_build
cd opencv_build
git clone

To fix the version problem I modified the compiler version in the platform file (this may not be the most correct way to do this but it worked for me!):


I edited this file:




I changed the GCC_COMPILER_VERSION variable’s value from 4.6 to 4.7 to match my installed compiler. I had to edit the file as I wasn’t able to override these variables from the command line.


Now create a sub-directory called build and cd into it:

mkdir build
cd build

And configure the build:

cmake -DSOFTFP=ON  -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=../opencv/platforms/linux/arm-gnueabi.toolchain.cmake ../opencv

This should complete without errors if you have the compiler that it is looking for installed etc.


Now run ‘make’ and ‘make install’:

make install

Make will take a few minutes to run, make install should copy the output files to a subdirectory called ‘install’.


All being well you should now have all the include and lib files that you need to build an OpenCV app for your ARM device.

6 replies
  1. Rob Garnett
    Rob Garnett says:


    Thanks for the tutorial. I had problems with the following cammands:

    sudo apt-get install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabi
    sudo apt-get install g++-arm-linux-gnueabi

    I got the following error
    E: Unable to locate package gcc-arm-linux-gnueabi

    What am I doing wron (I am on a debian linux system on virtual box hosted bby Win 7 64 bit Intel



  2. Archonnexus
    Archonnexus says:

    Hello, Rob.
    You should try to update your package library running “apt-get update”.
    Also, you should check the internet connection in your virtual box running OS, in case the above does not work.

  3. MIchael
    MIchael says:


    thanks for the tutorial. It works fine on my Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
    How can I compile a .cpp file for ARM target?

    So far I’ve always done it this way:
    g++ test.c `pkg-config –libs –cflags opencv`

    Best regards,

  4. Gelila
    Gelila says:

    Hello, great tutorial
    but i am facing an error after the make command which are
    make[2]: *** [3rdparty/lib/libzlib.a] Error 2
    make[1]: *** [3rdparty/zlib/CMakeFiles/zlib.dir/all] Error 2
    make: *** [all] Error 2

    please help.

  5. Akash
    Akash says:

    Hello, I ‘m getting the same error as mentioned above, can anyone tell me what can be done??
    Please reply soon

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