Installing manually

The recommended way to get started with the nRF Connect SDK is to use nRF Connect for Desktop. See the Installing automatically page for information about how to install automatically.

Note

If you use nRF Connect for Desktop to install the nRF Connect SDK, you can skip this section of the documentation. If you prefer to install the toolchain manually, see the following documentation for instructions.

To manually install the nRF Connect SDK, you must install all required tools and clone the nRF Connect SDK repositories. See the following sections for detailed instructions.

If you already have your system set up to work with Zephyr OS based on Zephyr’s Getting Started Guide, you already have some of the requirements for the nRF Connect SDK installed. The only requirement not covered by the installation steps in Zephyr is the GN tool. This tool is needed only for Matter applications.

Before you start setting up the toolchain, install available updates for your operating system. See Requirements for information on the supported operating systems and Zephyr features.

Install the required tools

The installation process is different depending on your operating system.

Note

You will be asked to reboot after installing some of the tools. You can skip these notifications and reboot only once after you complete the installation of all tools.

The recommended way for installing the required tools on Windows is to use Chocolatey, a package manager for Windows. Chocolatey installs the tools so that you can use them from a Windows command-line window.

To install the required tools, complete the following steps:

  1. Install chocolatey.

  2. Open a cmd.exe window as Administrator. To do so, press the Windows key, type “cmd.exe”, right-click the result, and choose Run as Administrator.

  3. Disable global confirmation to avoid having to confirm the installation of individual programs:

    choco feature enable -n allowGlobalConfirmation
    
  4. Use choco to install the required dependencies:

    choco install cmake --installargs 'ADD_CMAKE_TO_PATH=System'
    choco install ninja gperf python git dtc-msys2 wget unzip
    

Ensure that these dependencies are installed with their versions as specified in the Required tools table.

In addition to these required tools, install the GN meta-build system if you are interested in building Matter applications. This system generates the Ninja files that the nRF Connect SDK uses.

To install the GN tool, complete the following steps:

  1. Download the latest version of the GN binary archive for Windows from the GN website.

  2. Extract the zip archive.

  3. Check that the GN tool is added to your PATH environment variable. See Environment Variables for instructions if needed.

Install west

To manage the combination of repositories and versions, the nRF Connect SDK uses Zephyr’s west.

To install west, reopen the command prompt window to ensure that Python is initialized and complete the following step:

Enter the following command in a command-line window:

pip3 install west

You only need to do this once.

Get the nRF Connect SDK code

Every nRF Connect SDK release consists of a combination of Git repositories at different revisions. The revision of each of those repositories is determined by the current revision of the main (or manifest) repository, sdk-nrf.

Note

The latest state of development is on the main branch of the sdk-nrf repository. To ensure a usable state, the sdk-nrf repository defines the compatible states of the other repositories. However, this state is not necessarily tested. For a higher degree of quality assurance, check out a tagged release.

Unless you are familiar with the development process, you should always work with a specific release of the nRF Connect SDK.

For more information about the repository and development model, see the development model section.

To clone the repositories, complete the following steps:

  1. Create a folder named ncs. This folder will hold all nRF Connect SDK repositories.

  2. Determine the identifier of the revision of the nRF Connect SDK you want to work with. The recommended way is to work with a specific release.

    • To work with a specific release, the identifier is the corresponding tag (for example, v2.1.0). You can find the tag in the Release notes of the release.

    • To work with a development tag, the identifier is the corresponding tag (for example, v1.2.99-dev1)

    • To work with a branch, the identifier is the branch name (for example, main to work with the latest state of development).

    • To work with a specific state, the identifier is the SHA (for example, 224bee9055d986fe2677149b8cbda0ff10650a6e).

  3. From the command line, initialize west with the revision of the nRF Connect SDK that you want to check out, replacing NCS_revision with the identifier:

    west init -m https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf --mr NCS_revision

    For example, to check out the v2.1.0 release, enter the following command:

    west init -m https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf --mr v2.1.0

    To check out the latest state of development, enter the following command:

    west init -m https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf --mr main
    

    Note

    If you get an error message when running west, update west to the latest version. See Troubleshooting West if you need more information.

    Initializing west with a specific revision of the manifest file does not lock your repositories to this version. Checking out a different branch or tag in the sdk-nrf repository and running west update changes the version of the nRF Connect SDK that you work with.

    This will clone the manifest repository sdk-nrf into nrf.

  4. Enter the following command to clone the project repositories:

    west update
    

    Depending on your connection, this might take some time.

  5. Export a Zephyr CMake package. This allows CMake to automatically load the boilerplate code required for building nRF Connect SDK applications:

    west zephyr-export
    

Your directory structure now looks similar to this:

ncs
 |___ .west
 |___ bootloader
 |___ modules
 |___ nrf
 |___ nrfxlib
 |___ zephyr
 |___ ...

Note that there are additional folders, and that the structure might change. The full set of repositories and folders is defined in the manifest file.

Install additional Python dependencies

The nRF Connect SDK requires additional Python packages to be installed.

Use the following commands to install the requirements for each repository.

Enter the following command in a command-line window in the ncs folder:

pip3 install -r zephyr/scripts/requirements.txt
pip3 install -r nrf/scripts/requirements.txt
pip3 install -r bootloader/mcuboot/scripts/requirements.txt

Install a Toolchain

A toolchain provides a compiler, assembler, linker, and other programs required to build Zephyr applications.

The Zephyr Software Development Kit (SDK) contains toolchains for each of Zephyr’s supported architectures. It also includes additional host tools, such as custom QEMU and OpenOCD builds.

Note

When updating Zephyr SDK, verify the Zephyr SDK variables. Make sure that the zephyr toolchain is selected, not gnuarmemb.

  1. Open a cmd.exe window by pressing the Windows key typing “cmd.exe”.

  2. Download and verify Zephyr SDK bundle:

    cd %HOMEPATH%
    wget https://github.com/zephyrproject-rtos/sdk-ng/releases/download/v0.14.1/zephyr-sdk-0.14.1_windows-x86_64.zip
    
  3. Extract the Zephyr SDK bundle archive:

    unzip zephyr-sdk-0.14.1_windows-x86_64.zip
    

    Note

    It is recommended to extract the Zephyr SDK bundle at one of the following locations:

    • %HOMEPATH%

    • %PROGRAMFILES%

    The Zephyr SDK bundle archive contains the zephyr-sdk-0.14.1 directory and, when extracted under %HOMEPATH%, the resulting installation path will be %HOMEPATH%\zephyr-sdk-0.14.1.

  4. Run the Zephyr SDK bundle setup script:

    cd zephyr-sdk-0.14.1
    setup.cmd
    

    Note

    You only need to run the setup script once after extracting the Zephyr SDK bundle.

    You must rerun the setup script if you relocate the Zephyr SDK bundle directory after the initial setup.

Install nRF Connect for VS Code extension

You can install the nRF Connect for VS Code extension to open and compile projects in the nRF Connect SDK.

The nRF Connect for VS Code extension is a complete IDE for developing applications for nRF91, nRF53 and nRF52 Series devices. This includes an interface to the compiler and linker, an RTOS-aware debugger, a seamless interface to the nRF Connect SDK, and a serial terminal. For detailed instructions, see the nRF Connect for Visual Studio Code documentation site.

Note

If you are building the application or sample using SEGGER Embedded Studio IDE or on the command line and want to migrate to Visual Studio Code, follow the instructions in the migrating from other IDEs to VS Code documentation.

For instructions specifically for installing, see Installing using Visual Studio Code.

Set up the command-line build environment

In addition to Visual Studio Code, you can also build and program your application from the command line. You have to set up your build environment by defining the required environment variables every time you open a new command-line or terminal window.

See Important Build System Variables for more information about the various relevant environment variables.

Define the required environment variables as follows, depending on your operating system:

Navigate to the ncs folder and enter the following command: zephyr\zephyr-env.cmd

If you need to define additional environment variables, create the file %userprofile%zephyrrc.cmd and add the variables there. This file is loaded automatically when you run the above command. See Option 3: Using zephyrrc files for more information.

You must also make sure that nrfjprog (part of the nRF Command Line Tools) is installed and its path is added to the environment variables. The west command programs the development kit by using nrfjprog by default. For more information on nrfjprog, see Programming SoCs with nrfjprog.