Build binary and source package installers

Variables concerning CPack Components

The CPackComponent module is the module which handles the component part of CPack. See CPack module for general information about CPack.

For certain kinds of binary installers (including the graphical installers on Mac OS X and Windows), CPack generates installers that allow users to select individual application components to install. The contents of each of the components are identified by the COMPONENT argument of CMake’s INSTALL command. These components can be annotated with user-friendly names and descriptions, inter-component dependencies, etc., and grouped in various ways to customize the resulting installer. See the cpack_add_* commands, described below, for more information about component-specific installations.

Component-specific installation allows users to select specific sets of components to install during the install process. Installation components are identified by the COMPONENT argument of CMake’s INSTALL commands, and should be further described by the following CPack commands:


The list of component to install.

The default value of this variable is computed by CPack and contains all components defined by the project. The user may set it to only include the specified components.


Enable/Disable component install for CPack generator <GENNAME>.

Each CPack Generator (RPM, DEB, ARCHIVE, NSIS, DMG, etc…) has a legacy default behavior. e.g. RPM builds monolithic whereas NSIS builds component. One can change the default behavior by setting this variable to 0/1 or OFF/ON.


Specify how components are grouped for multi-package component-aware CPack generators.

Some generators like RPM or ARCHIVE family (TGZ, ZIP, …) generates several packages files when asked for component packaging. They group the component differently depending on the value of this variable:

  • ONE_PER_GROUP (default): creates one package file per component group

  • ALL_COMPONENTS_IN_ONE : creates a single package with all (requested) component

  • IGNORE : creates one package per component, i.e. IGNORE component group

One can specify different grouping for different CPack generator by using a CPACK_PROJECT_CONFIG_FILE.


The name to be displayed for a component.


The description of a component.


The group of a component.


The dependencies (list of components) on which this component depends.


True is this component is required.


Describes a CPack installation component named by the COMPONENT argument to a CMake INSTALL command.

                    [DISPLAY_NAME name]
                    [DESCRIPTION description]
                    [HIDDEN | REQUIRED | DISABLED ]
                    [GROUP group]
                    [DEPENDS comp1 comp2 ... ]
                    [INSTALL_TYPES type1 type2 ... ]
                    [ARCHIVE_FILE filename])

The cmake_add_component command describes an installation component, which the user can opt to install or remove as part of the graphical installation process. compname is the name of the component, as provided to the COMPONENT argument of one or more CMake INSTALL commands.

DISPLAY_NAME is the displayed name of the component, used in graphical installers to display the component name. This value can be any string.

DESCRIPTION is an extended description of the component, used in graphical installers to give the user additional information about the component. Descriptions can span multiple lines using \n as the line separator. Typically, these descriptions should be no more than a few lines long.

HIDDEN indicates that this component will be hidden in the graphical installer, so that the user cannot directly change whether it is installed or not.

REQUIRED indicates that this component is required, and therefore will always be installed. It will be visible in the graphical installer, but it cannot be unselected. (Typically, required components are shown greyed out).

DISABLED indicates that this component should be disabled (unselected) by default. The user is free to select this component for installation, unless it is also HIDDEN.

DEPENDS lists the components on which this component depends. If this component is selected, then each of the components listed must also be selected. The dependency information is encoded within the installer itself, so that users cannot install inconsistent sets of components.

GROUP names the component group of which this component is a part. If not provided, the component will be a standalone component, not part of any component group. Component groups are described with the cpack_add_component_group command, detailed below.

INSTALL_TYPES lists the installation types of which this component is a part. When one of these installations types is selected, this component will automatically be selected. Installation types are described with the cpack_add_install_type command, detailed below.

DOWNLOADED indicates that this component should be downloaded on-the-fly by the installer, rather than packaged in with the installer itself. For more information, see the cpack_configure_downloads command.

ARCHIVE_FILE provides a name for the archive file created by CPack to be used for downloaded components. If not supplied, CPack will create a file with some name based on CPACK_PACKAGE_FILE_NAME and the name of the component. See cpack_configure_downloads for more information.


Describes a group of related CPack installation components.

                         [DISPLAY_NAME name]
                         [DESCRIPTION description]
                         [PARENT_GROUP parent]

The cpack_add_component_group describes a group of installation components, which will be placed together within the listing of options. Typically, component groups allow the user to select/deselect all of the components within a single group via a single group-level option. Use component groups to reduce the complexity of installers with many options. groupname is an arbitrary name used to identify the group in the GROUP argument of the cpack_add_component command, which is used to place a component in a group. The name of the group must not conflict with the name of any component.

DISPLAY_NAME is the displayed name of the component group, used in graphical installers to display the component group name. This value can be any string.

DESCRIPTION is an extended description of the component group, used in graphical installers to give the user additional information about the components within that group. Descriptions can span multiple lines using \n as the line separator. Typically, these descriptions should be no more than a few lines long.

PARENT_GROUP, if supplied, names the parent group of this group. Parent groups are used to establish a hierarchy of groups, providing an arbitrary hierarchy of groups.

EXPANDED indicates that, by default, the group should show up as “expanded”, so that the user immediately sees all of the components within the group. Otherwise, the group will initially show up as a single entry.

BOLD_TITLE indicates that the group title should appear in bold, to call the user’s attention to the group.


Add a new installation type containing a set of predefined component selections to the graphical installer.

                       [DISPLAY_NAME name])

The cpack_add_install_type command identifies a set of preselected components that represents a common use case for an application. For example, a “Developer” install type might include an application along with its header and library files, while an “End user” install type might just include the application’s executable. Each component identifies itself with one or more install types via the INSTALL_TYPES argument to cpack_add_component.

DISPLAY_NAME is the displayed name of the install type, which will typically show up in a drop-down box within a graphical installer. This value can be any string.


Configure CPack to download selected components on-the-fly as part of the installation process.

                          [UPLOAD_DIRECTORY dirname]

The cpack_configure_downloads command configures installation-time downloads of selected components. For each downloadable component, CPack will create an archive containing the contents of that component, which should be uploaded to the given site. When the user selects that component for installation, the installer will download and extract the component in place. This feature is useful for creating small installers that only download the requested components, saving bandwidth. Additionally, the installers are small enough that they will be installed as part of the normal installation process, and the “Change” button in Windows Add/Remove Programs control panel will allow one to add or remove parts of the application after the original installation. On Windows, the downloaded-components functionality requires the ZipDLL plug-in for NSIS, available at:

On Mac OS X, installers that download components on-the-fly can only be built and installed on system using Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

The site argument is a URL where the archives for downloadable components will reside, e.g., All of the archives produced by CPack should be uploaded to that location.

UPLOAD_DIRECTORY is the local directory where CPack will create the various archives for each of the components. The contents of this directory should be uploaded to a location accessible by the URL given in the site argument. If omitted, CPack will use the directory CPackUploads inside the CMake binary directory to store the generated archives.

The ALL flag indicates that all components be downloaded. Otherwise, only those components explicitly marked as DOWNLOADED or that have a specified ARCHIVE_FILE will be downloaded. Additionally, the ALL option implies ADD_REMOVE (unless NO_ADD_REMOVE is specified).

ADD_REMOVE indicates that CPack should install a copy of the installer that can be called from Windows’ Add/Remove Programs dialog (via the “Modify” button) to change the set of installed components. NO_ADD_REMOVE turns off this behavior. This option is ignored on Mac OS X.