Dune has the ability to cache built files for later retrieval. This can greatly speedup subsequent builds when some dependencies are rebuilt in different workspaces, switching branches or iterating on code back and forth.


The cache is, for now, an opt-in feature. Add (cache enabled) to your dune configuration file (default ~/.config/dune/config) to activate it. When turned on, built files will automatically be promoted to the cache, and subsequent builds will automatically check the cache for hits.

The cached files are stored inside you XDG_CACHE_HOME directory on *nix systems, and “HOME\Local Settings\Cache” on Windows.


By default, most cache operations go through the dune cache daemon, a separate process that dune instances connect to. This enables promotions to happen asynchronously and not slow the build process. The daemon is automatically started if needed when dune needs accessing the cache, and lives on for further use.

Although the daemon concept is totally transparent, one can control it via the dune cache subcommand.

Starting the daemon

Use dune cache start to start the caching daemon if not running and print its endpoint, or retrieve the endpoint of the currently running daemon otherwise. A notable option is –foreground to not detach the daemon, which can help inspecting its log output.

Stopping the daemon

Use dune cache stop to stop the caching daemon. Although the daemon, when idle, should consume zero resources, you may want to get rid of the process. Also useful to restart the daemon with –foreground.

Filesystem implementation

Copy mode

If one specifies (cache-duplication copy) in the configuration file, dune will copy files to and from the cache instead of using hardlinks. This can be useful if the build cache is on a different partition.

On-disk size

The cache daemon will perform periodic trimming to limit the overhead. Every 10 minutes, it will purge the least recently used files so the cache overhead does not exceed 10G. This is configurable through the (cache-trim-period SECONDS) and (cache-trim-size BYTES) configuration entries. Note that this operation will only consider the cache overhead, i.e. files not currently hard-linked in a build directory, as removing files currently used would not free any disk space.

On can run dune cache trim –size=BYTES to manually trigger trimming in the cache daemon.


Reproducibility check

While default mode of operation of the cache is to speedup build times by not re-running some rules, it can also be used to check build reproducibility. If (cache-check-probability FLOAT) or –cache-check-probability=FLOAT is specified either respectively in the configuration file or the command line, in case of a cache hit dune will rerun the rule anyway with the given probability and compare the resulting files against a potential cache hit. If the files differ, the rule is not reproducible and a warning will be emitted.

Non-reproducible rules

If you know that some rule is not reproducible (e.g. because it downloads a non-fixed file from the internet) and should never be cached, then you can mark it as such by using (deps (universe)). See Dependency specification.

Daemon-less mode

While the cache daemon provides asynchronous promotions to speedup builds and background trimming amongst other things, in some situations direct access can be preferable. This can be the case when running in an isolated environment like Docker or OPAM sandboxes, where only one instance of dune will ever be running at a time, and access to external cache is prohibited. Direct filesystem access can be obtained by specifying (cache-transport direct) in the configuration file or passing –cache-transport=direct on the command line.