Remote index

A project-wide index can be slow to build, particularly for large projects on slower machines like laptops. A “remote index” allows a shared server to host the index instead.

How it works

The remote index has three components:

Each of these components are open-source and part of llvm/llvm-project/clang-tools-extra/clangd.


clangd-indexer collects public symbols from headers (functions, classes, types, etc). It’s necessary to run the build system for your project first, to produce compile_commands.json and possibly generate source files.

Running clangd-indexer is expensive and produced index is not incremental. Usually the index is produced periodically and so is always slightly stale.


clangd-index-server is an RPC server that processes index requests. Clangd issues requests to the server whenever it uses its global index (e.g. find references request, index-based code completion).

The source code lives under different paths on different machines. The --project-root flags specifies the source root on the indexer machine, this prefix will be stripped. The client will add its own prefix as appropriate.


The client is compiled into clangd, and enabled when Index.External.Server is set in the user config. A “mount point” must also be specified to translate between local and remote paths.

The remote index cannot be enabled from project config for privacy reasons (the client reveals information about the code being edited, and the project config from the source code repository isn’t sufficiently trusted).


The client and server require the gRPC libraries. Because of this dependency, they are not enabled by default in CMake.

To build remote-index-enabled clangd and clangd-index-server, you need:

The clangd releases on GitHub include remote index support, but official LLVM releases do not (yet).