To compile and use TensorFlow Serving, you need to set up some prerequisites.

Bazel (only if compiling source code)

TensorFlow Serving requires Bazel 0.4.5 or higher. You can find the Bazel installation instructions here.

If you have the prerequisites for Bazel, those instructions consist of the following steps:

  1. Download the relevant binary from here. Let's say you downloaded You would execute:

    cd ~/Downloads
    chmod +x
    ./ --user

  2. Set up your environment. Put this in your ~/.bashrc.

    export PATH="$PATH:$HOME/bin"


Our tutorials use gRPC (1.0.0 or higher) as our RPC framework. You can find the installation instructions here.


To install TensorFlow Serving dependencies, execute the following:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y \
        build-essential \
        curl \
        libcurl3-dev \
        git \
        libfreetype6-dev \
        libpng12-dev \
        libzmq3-dev \
        pkg-config \
        python-dev \
        python-numpy \
        python-pip \
        software-properties-common \
        swig \
        zip \

TensorFlow Serving Python API PIP package

To run Python client code without the need to install Bazel, you can install the tensorflow-serving-api PIP package using:

pip install tensorflow-serving-api

Installing using apt-get

Available binaries

The TensorFlow Serving ModelServer binary is available in two variants:

tensorflow-model-server: Fully optimized server that uses some platform specific compiler optimizations like SSE4 and AVX instructions. This should be the preferred option for most users, but may not work on some older machines.

tensorflow-model-server-universal: Compiled with basic optimizations, but doesn't include platform specific instruction sets, so should work on most if not all machines out there. Use this if tensorflow-model-server does not work for you. Note that the binary name is the same for both packages, so if you already installed tensorflow-model-server, you should first uninstall it using

sudo apt-get remove tensorflow-model-server

Installing the ModelServer

  1. Add TensorFlow Serving distribution URI as a package source (one time setup)

    echo "deb [arch=amd64] stable tensorflow-model-server tensorflow-model-server-universal" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/tensorflow-serving.list

    curl | sudo apt-key add -

  2. Install and update TensorFlow ModelServer

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install tensorflow-model-server

Once installed, the binary can be invoked using the command tensorflow_model_server.

You can upgrade to a newer version of tensorflow-model-server with:

sudo apt-get upgrade tensorflow-model-server

Installing from source

Clone the TensorFlow Serving repository

git clone --recurse-submodules
cd serving

--recurse-submodules is required to fetch TensorFlow, gRPC, and other libraries that TensorFlow Serving depends on. Note that these instructions will install the latest master branch of TensorFlow Serving. If you want to install a specific branch (such as a release branch), pass -b <branchname> to the git clone command.

Install prerequisites

Follow the Prerequisites section above to install all dependencies. To configure TensorFlow, run

cd tensorflow
cd ..

Consult the TensorFlow install instructions if you encounter any issues with setting up TensorFlow or its dependencies.


TensorFlow Serving uses Bazel to build. Use Bazel commands to build individual targets or the entire source tree.

To build the entire tree, execute:

bazel build -c opt tensorflow_serving/...

Binaries are placed in the bazel-bin directory, and can be run using a command like:


To test your installation, execute:

bazel test -c opt tensorflow_serving/...

See the basic tutorial and advanced tutorial for more in-depth examples of running TensorFlow Serving.

Optimized build

It's possible to compile using some platform specific instruction sets (e.g. AVX) that can significantly improve performance. Wherever you see 'bazel build' in the documentation, you can add the flags -c opt --copt=-msse4.1 --copt=-msse4.2 --copt=-mavx --copt=-mavx2 --copt=-mfma --copt=-O3 (or some subset of these flags). For example:

bazel build -c opt --config=mkl --copt=-msse4.1 --copt=-msse4.2 --copt=-mavx --copt=-mavx2 --copt=-mfma --copt=-O3 tensorflow_serving/...

Continuous integration build

Our continuous integration build using TensorFlow ci_build infrastructure offers you simplified development using docker. All you need is git and docker. No need to install all other dependencies manually.

git clone --recursive
cd serving
CI_TENSORFLOW_SUBMODULE_PATH=tensorflow tensorflow/tensorflow/tools/ci_build/ CPU bazel test //tensorflow_serving/...