Buildroot 2013.08 released, new features and contributions from Free Electrons

Buildroot logoThe 2013.08 release of Buildroot has been published a few days ago by Peter Korsgaard, the project maintainer. As usual, this release contains a number of improvements and new features that are summarized in Peter’s release e-mail, and also visible in the CHANGES file.

On a total of 744 commits merged for this release, Free Electrons has contributed 141 patches, focusing on the following main improvements:

  • Conversion of the “internal toolchain back-end” of Buildroot to use the package infrastructure. The internal toolchain back-end is the piece of code in Buildroot that is responsible for building a cross-compilation toolchain (i.e building binutils, gcc, the C library, gdb and the necessary dependencies). Until now, this code was using some basic makefiles, many of which dating from many years back in the history of Buildroot. By converting this piece of code to use normal Buildroot packages, it is now easier to maintain and extend. It is worth noting that the internal toolchain back-end is only one of the two back-ends of Buildroot in terms of toolchains: it can also use pre-built external toolchains.
  • Thanks to the clean up highlighted above, we have added eglibc support to the internal toolchain back-end. Until now, using eglibc or glibc was only possible using pre-built external toolchains. Now, Buildroot is directly capable of building eglibc-based toolchains, in addition to the uClibc library which has been supported for many years by Buildroot. Note that we have already posted patches that also add glibc support, they should hopefully be included for the next release, 2013.11.
  • Vast improvements in the way Buildroot supports the various floating point possibilities on ARM: we’ve added support for the EABIhf ABI, improved how the various floating point units can be selected, etc. Selecting the right floating point solution for your embedded Linux system should now be a lot easier.
  • Support to build a system using the Thumb2 instruction set available on ARM, which provides a smaller code size compared to the classical ARM instruction set.
  • Updates to the available external toolchains: addition of the Arago ARMv5 and ARMv7 toolchains, and update the versions of the available Linaro toolchains for ARM and AArch64.
  • Addition of packages to support the video decoding hardware of some AT91 SoCs, the Hantro x170.

Moreover, in the absence of the official maintainer Peter Korsgaard, Thomas Petazzoni has played the role of interim maintainer during approximately one month, and has handled the first two release candidates of the 2013.08 cycle.

Last but not least, Thomas has also been the mentor of Spenser Gilliland, a student working on Buildroot as part of the Google Summer of Code. His work consists in improving support for ARM multimedia features in Buildroot, and a part of his work went into the 2013.08 release:

  • Addition of a libvpx package
  • Addition of a libopenmax virtual package to support various OpenMAX implementations
  • A complete bump of the Glib/Gtk stack
  • The addition of GStreamer 1.x support (Buildroot already had support for GStreamer 0.10.x, but not the more recent 1.x)
  • Addition of the gst-omx package which allows accelerated video decoding on the Raspberry Pi board thanks to an OpenMAX specific implementation
  • Addition of a ti-gfx package that allows to support OpenGL on TI OMAP platforms, it has been successfully tested with the BeagleBoard XM
  • Addition of the sunxi-mali package to support OpenGL on Allwinner SOCs, and the sunxi-cedarx package to support accelerated video decoding on Allwinner SOCs

The Google Summer of Code is still on-going until the end of September, and Spenser has already posted patches to improve support for Mesa3D, libdrm and the addition of the glmark2 OpenGL benchmark. Those improvements will hopefully be part of the next 2013.11 release.

In detail, the contributions from Free Electrons for this release have been:

About Thomas Petazzoni

Thomas Petazzoni is an embedded Linux and kernel engineer at Free Electrons. He is a lead developer of Buildroot and also a contributor to the Linux kernel. More details...
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