Builder + podman adventures

I switched to Fedora silverblue not too long ago and was quite surprised how everything works out of the box. One day we got a question about CMake and the backend we use for our CMake plugin. This is the start of a long adventure:

Why is GLFW not resolving correct?

The demo project i got my hands on was some example code of the GLFW library (a OpenGL game library). I spun up my podman development container and installed the library.

toolbox enter
sudo dnf install glfw-devel

I thought this should work. Then i realized that our clang machinery to resolve symbols, validate includes, hover provider and diagnostic provider is acting weird. Everything is red squiggled and nothing works. I wondered because my experience was smooth all the time with toolbox/podman.

The fool who stays inside

I never used anything relevant from outside of my own universe. I developed on librest and there was everything working ootb. Of course all libraries i use there are available in the builder flatpak and that was the reason in never had any problems. I just got wrong informations from a totally different development environment.

How does Builder resolve symbols?

Builder has an own little clang server. When Builder starts we also start gnome-builder-clang which acts as our “language server”. Technology-wise its different but the memory footprint is low and its fast. So it works for us.


By default this server has only access to the GNOME Builder flatpak environment (if Builder flatpak, native is different). So it will provide everything from there. In order to access the host we translate files (like includes etc.) to /var/host/ so we can also escape the flatpak environment (this is btw a reason we probably never can be sandboxed). In case of Fedora Silverblue both options are not enough. My host is immutable and does not even contain a compiler or any development files. I need access to podmans environments.

Enter the pod

Podman relies on techniques from LXC. So a running container is initially based on an image which gets mutable layers on top. So we get a filesystem with all the changes in there.


In order to find now the file (for example the header file of that library i installed GLFW/glfw3.h) i have to find my container, reconstruct the layer hierarchy and search from the top layer till the image layer for my header. When i have found it i can build a host-compatible path and feed this into the clang machinery.

The actual change to Builder’s code is particular small but the gist to understand how i can build correct translations was huge. I want to thank Christian Hergert for his help. He had a similar problem with debug symbols in sysprof and his preliminary work made the resolution of that problem way easier.