Installing CodeQL CLI in your CI system

You can install the CodeQL CLI and use it to perform CodeQL code scanning in a third-party continuous integration system.

Code scanning is available for organization-owned repositories where GitHub Advanced Security is enabled. For more information, see "About GitHub Advanced Security."

Note: Your site administrator must enable code scanning for your GitHub Enterprise Server instance before you can use this feature. For more information, see "Configuring code scanning for your appliance."

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 Enterprise Server. For information, see "About code scanning with 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 your GitHub Enterprise Server instance.

Alternatively, you can use GitHub Actions to run code scanning within GitHub Enterprise Server. For information about code scanning using actions, see "Setting up code scanning for a repository." For an overview of the options for CI systems, see "About CodeQL code scanning in your CI system".

Note: The CodeQL CLI is available to customers with an Advanced Security license.

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.

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://HOSTNAME/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>/codeql/codeql, where <extraction-root> is the folder where you extracted the CodeQL CLI bundle.
  • By adding /<extraction-root>/codeql to your PATH, so that you can run the executable as just codeql.

Testing the CodeQL CLI set up

After you extract the CodeQL CLI bundle, you can run the following command to verify that the CLI is correctly set up to create and analyze databases.

  • codeql resolve qlpacks if /<extraction-root>/codeql is on the PATH.
  • /<extraction-root>/codeql/codeql resolve qlpacks otherwise.

Extract from successful output:

codeql-cpp (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-cpp)
codeql-cpp-examples (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-cpp-examples)
codeql-cpp-upgrades (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-cpp-upgrades)
codeql-csharp (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-csharp)
codeql-csharp-examples (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-csharp-examples)
codeql-csharp-upgrades (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-csharp-upgrades)
codeql-go (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-go)
codeql-go-examples (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-go-examples)
codeql-go-upgrades (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-go-upgrades)
codeql-java (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-java)
codeql-java-examples (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-java-examples)
codeql-java-upgrades (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-java-upgrades)
codeql-javascript (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-javascript)
codeql-javascript-examples (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-javascript-examples)
codeql-javascript-upgrades (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-javascript-upgrades)
codeql-python (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-python)
codeql-python-examples (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-python-examples)
codeql-python-upgrades (/<extraction-root>/codeql/qlpacks/codeql-python-upgrades)
...

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 Enterprise Server

Each CI server needs a GitHub App or personal access token for the CodeQL CLI to use to upload results to GitHub Enterprise Server. 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 Enterprise Server, 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 "Building GitHub Apps" and "Creating a personal access token."

Next steps

You're now ready to configure the CI system to run CodeQL analysis, generate results, and upload them to GitHub Enterprise Server 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."

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