The Meson Manual

Meson book's cover

Sadly the book is no longer available for purchase.

Book details

Author: Jussi Pakkanen
ISBN: 978-952-94-2892-2
Language: English
Number of pages: 321
Published by: Diffraction Labs
Year of publication: 2020

The Meson Manual is a full user's manual for the Meson build system written by Jussi Pakkanen, the original creator and current project lead of Meson. Written in an informative and concise no-nonsense style, the text makes the material easily approachable even for people with little previous knowledge on build systems in general or Meson in particular. Plenty of practical examples are used to ensure that the information is readily usable on real world projects.

The book starts with the basics such as how compilers and linkers work, what is the difference between static and dynamic linking (both at compile time and at runtime) and some differences between different toolchains and operating systems. This is followed by a thorough description of Meson's syntax, behaviour and functionality. A few bigger projects are examined to see how all of this can be applied to real world projects. The second half of the book is a thorough reference manual of all Meson functionality, including sample code for almost every function, module and method.

Review copies

If you are a journalist and wish to write a review of the book for a publication, send an email to the author to get a free review copy.

Sample chapter

Want to know more before buying? No problem, here is an entire sample chapter for you to read. It contains the exact same text as the actual book.

Updated editions

All purchases of the book are entitled to download updated editions at no extra cost. The currently available version (3rd edition) will be the last release of the manual.


The sales of the book were discontinued at the end of 2020.

Table of contents

Part I

  1. Getting started
  2. How compilation works
  3. Meson syntax
  4. Building blocks of a software project
  5. External dependencies
  6. Subprojects and internal dependencies
  7. Configuring the project
  8. Testing
  9. Installing
  10. Project options
  11. Custom build steps
  12. Cross compilation
  13. The Wrap dependency download mechanism
  14. Converting an existing project to Meson
  15. A library sample project
  16. Practical tips for real world projects

Part II

  1. Elementary object reference
  2. Domain specific object reference
  3. Function reference
  4. Module reference

Part III

  1. Contributing to Meson