About using the CodeQL CLI for code scanning
You can use the CodeQL CLI to run code scanning on code that you're processing in a third-party continuous integration (CI) system. Code scanning is a feature that you use to analyze the code in a GitHub repository to find security vulnerabilities and coding errors. Any problems identified by the analysis are shown in GitHub. For information, see "About code scanning with CodeQL." For recommended specifications (RAM, CPU cores, and disk) for running CodeQL analysis, see "Recommended hardware resources for running CodeQL."
The CodeQL CLI is a standalone product that you can use to analyze code. Its main purpose is to generate a database representation of a codebase, a CodeQL database. Once the database is ready, you can query it interactively, or run a suite of queries to generate a set of results in SARIF format and upload the results to GitHub.com.
Alternatively, you can use GitHub Actions to run code scanning within GitHub. For information about code scanning using actions, see "Configuring code scanning for a repository." For an overview of the options for CI systems, see "About CodeQL code scanning in your CI system".
- The CodeQL CLI is free to use on public repositories. The CodeQL CLI is also available in private repositories owned by organizations that use GitHub Enterprise Cloud and have a license for GitHub Advanced Security. For information, see "GitHub CodeQL Terms and Conditions" and "CodeQL CLI."
- The CodeQL CLI is currently not compatible with non-glibc Linux distributions such as (musl-based) Alpine Linux.
Downloading the CodeQL CLI
You should download the CodeQL bundle from https://github.com/github/codeql-action/releases. The bundle contains:
- CodeQL CLI product
- A compatible version of the queries and libraries from https://github.com/github/codeql
- Precompiled versions of all the queries included in the bundle
You should always use the CodeQL bundle as this ensures compatibility and also gives much better performance than a separate download of the CodeQL CLI and checkout of the CodeQL queries. If you will only be running the CLI on one specific platform, download the appropriate
codeql-bundle-PLATFORM.tar.gz file. Alternatively, you can download
codeql-bundle.tar.gz, which contains the CLI for all supported platforms.
Note: The CodeQL package management functionality, including CodeQL packs, is currently in beta and subject to change.
Setting up the CodeQL CLI in your CI system
You need to make the full contents of the CodeQL CLI bundle available to every CI server that you want to run CodeQL code scanning analysis on. For example, you might configure each server to copy the bundle from a central, internal location and extract it. Alternatively, you could use the REST API to get the bundle directly from GitHub, ensuring that you benefit from the latest improvements to queries. Updates to the CodeQL CLI are released every 2-3 weeks. For example:
$ wget https://github.com/github/codeql-action/releases/latest/download/codeql-bundle-linux64.tar.gz $ tar -xvzf ./codeql-bundle-linux64.tar.gz
After you extract the CodeQL CLI bundle, you can run the
codeql executable on the server:
- By executing
<extraction-root>is the folder where you extracted the CodeQL CLI bundle.
- By adding
PATH, so that you can run the executable as just
If you use the CodeQL CLI to analyze code written in Python, you must make sure that your CI system has Python 3 installed.
Testing the CodeQL CLI configuration
After you extract the CodeQL CLI bundle, you can run the following command to verify that the CLI is correctly configured to create and analyze databases.
codeql resolve qlpacksif
/<extraction-root>/codeqlis on the
/<extraction-root>/codeql/codeql resolve qlpacksotherwise.
Extract from successful output:
You should check that the output contains the expected languages and also that the directory location for the qlpack files is correct. The location should be within the extracted CodeQL CLI bundle, shown above as
<extraction root>, unless you are using a checkout of
github/codeql. If the CodeQL CLI is unable to locate the qlpacks for the expected languages, check that you downloaded the CodeQL bundle and not a standalone copy of the CodeQL CLI.
Generating a token for authentication with GitHub
Each CI server needs a GitHub App or personal access token for the CodeQL CLI to use to upload results to GitHub. You must use an access token or a GitHub App with the
security_events write permission. If CI servers already use a token with this scope to checkout repositories from GitHub, you could potentially allow the CodeQL CLI to use the same token. Otherwise, you should create a new token with the
security_events write permission and add this to the CI system's secret store. For information, see "Creating GitHub Apps" and "Managing your personal access tokens."
You're now ready to configure the CI system to run CodeQL analysis, generate results, and upload them to GitHub where the results will be matched to a branch or pull request and displayed as code scanning alerts. For detailed information, see "Configuring CodeQL CLI in your CI system."