Dune Cache

Dune implements a cache of build results that is shared across different workspaces. Before executing a build rule, Dune looks it up in the shared cache, and if it finds a matching entry, Dune skips the rule’s execution and restores the results in the current build directory. This can greatly speed up builds when different workspaces share code, as well as when switching branches or simply undoing some changes within the same workspace.


For now, Dune cache is an opt-in feature. There are three ways to enable it. Choose the one that is more convenient for you:

  • Add (cache enabled) to your Dune configuration file (~/.config/dune/config by default).
  • Set the environment variable DUNE_CACHE to enabled
  • Run Dune with the --cache=enabled flag.

By default, Dune stores the cache in your XDG_CACHE_HOME directory on *nix systems and "HOME\\Local Settings\\Cache" on Windows. You can change the default location by setting the environment variable DUNE_CACHE_ROOT.

Cache Storage Mode

Dune supports two modes of storing and restoring cache entries: hardlink and copy. If your file system supports hard links, we recommend that you use the hardlink mode, which is generally more efficient and reliable.

The copy Mode

If you specify (cache-storage-mode copy) in the configuration file, Dune will copy files to and from the cache instead of using hard links. This mode is slower and has higher disk space usage. On the positive side, it is more portable and doesn’t have the disadvantages of the hardlink mode (see above).

You can also set or override the storage mode via the environment variable DUNE_CACHE_STORAGE_MODE and the command line flag --cache-storage-mode.

Trimming the Cache

Storing all historically produced build results in the cache is infeasible, so you’ll need to occasionally trim the cache. To do that, run the dune cache trim --size=BYTES command. This will remove the oldest used cache entries to keep the cache overhead below the specified size. By “overhead” we mean the cache entries whose hard link count is equal to 1, i.e., which aren’t used in any build directory. Trimming cache entries whose hard link count is greater than 1 would not free any disk space.

Note that previous versions of Dune, cache provided a “cache daemon” that could periodically trim the cache. The current version doesn’t require an additional daemon process, so this automated trimming functionality is no longer provided.


Reproducibility Check

While the main purpose of Dune cache is to speed up build times, it can also be used to check build reproducibility. By specifying (cache-check-probability FLOAT) in the configuration file, or running Dune with the --cache-check-probability=FLOAT flag, you instruct Dune to re-execute randomly chosen build rules and compare their results with those stored in the cache. If the results differ, the rule is not reproducible, and Dune will print out a corresponding warning.

Non-Reproducible Rules

Some build rules are inherently not reproducible because they involve running non-deterministic commands that, for example, depend on the current time or download files from the Internet. To prevent Dune from caching such rules, mark them as non-reproducible by using (deps (universe)). Please see Dependency Specification.