Buildroot usage and documentation by Thomas Petazzoni. Contributions from Karsten Kruse, Ned Ludd, Martin Herren and others.

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About Buildroot

Buildroot is a set of Makefiles and patches that allows you to easily generate a cross-compilation toolchain, a root filesystem and a Linux kernel image for your target. Buildroot can be used for one, two or all of these options, independently.

Buildroot is useful mainly for people working with embedded systems. Embedded systems often use processors that are not the regular x86 processors everyone is used to having in his PC. They can be PowerPC processors, MIPS processors, ARM processors, etc.

A compilation toolchain is the set of tools that allows you to compile code for your system. It consists of a compiler (in our case, gcc), binary utils like assembler and linker (in our case, binutils) and a C standard library (for example GNU Libc, uClibc or dietlibc). The system installed on your development station certainly already has a compilation toolchain that you can use to compile an application that runs on your system. If you’re using a PC, your compilation toolchain runs on an x86 processor and generates code for an x86 processor. Under most Linux systems, the compilation toolchain uses the GNU libc (glibc) as the C standard library. This compilation toolchain is called the "host compilation toolchain". The machine on which it is running, and on which you’re working, is called the "host system". The compilation toolchain is provided by your distribution, and Buildroot has nothing to do with it (other than using it to build a cross-compilation toolchain and other tools that are run on the development host).

As said above, the compilation toolchain that comes with your system runs on and generates code for the processor in your host system. As your embedded system has a different processor, you need a cross-compilation toolchain - a compilation toolchain that runs on your host system but generates code for your target system (and target processor). For example, if your host system uses x86 and your target system uses ARM, the regular compilation toolchain on your host runs on x86 and generates code for x86, while the cross-compilation toolchain runs on x86 and generates code for ARM.

Even if your embedded system uses an x86 processor, you might be interested in Buildroot for two reasons:

  • The compilation toolchain on your host certainly uses the GNU Libc which is a complete but huge C standard library. Instead of using GNU Libc on your target system, you can use uClibc which is a tiny C standard library. If you want to use this C library, then you need a compilation toolchain to generate binaries linked with it. Buildroot can do that for you.

  • Buildroot automates the building of a root filesystem with all needed tools like busybox. That makes it much easier than doing it by hand.

You might wonder why such a tool is needed when you can compile gcc, binutils, uClibc and all the other tools by hand. Of course doing so is possible but, dealing with all of the configure options and problems of every gcc or binutils version is very time-consuming and uninteresting. Buildroot automates this process through the use of Makefiles and has a collection of patches for each gcc and binutils version to make them work on most architectures.

Moreover, Buildroot provides an infrastructure for reproducing the build process of your kernel, cross-toolchain, and embedded root filesystem. Being able to reproduce the build process will be useful when a component needs to be patched or updated or when another person is supposed to take over the project.

Getting Buildroot

Buildroot releases are made approximately every 3 months. Direct Git access and daily snapshots are also available, if you want more bleeding edge.

Releases are available at http://buildroot.net/downloads/.

The latest snapshot is always available at http://buildroot.net/downloads/snapshots/buildroot-snapshot.tar.bz2, and previous snapshots are also available at http://buildroot.net/downloads/snapshots/.

To download Buildroot using Git, you can simply follow the rules described on the "Accessing Git" page (http://buildroot.net/git.html) of the Buildroot website (http://buildroot.net). For the impatient, here’s a quick recipe:

 $ git clone git://git.buildroot.net/buildroot

Using Buildroot

Configuration and general usage

Buildroot has a nice configuration tool similar to the one you can find in the Linux kernel or in Busybox. Note that you can (and should) build everything as a normal user. There is no need to be root to configure and use Buildroot. The first step is to run the configuration assistant:

 $ make menuconfig

to run the curses-based configurator, or

 $ make xconfig

or

 $ make gconfig

to run the Qt or GTK-based configurators.

All of these "make" commands will need to build a configuration utility, so you may need to install "development" packages for relevant libraries used by the configuration utilities. On Debian-like systems, the libncurses5-dev package is required to use the menuconfig interface, libqt4-dev is required to use the xconfig interface, and libglib2.0-dev, libgtk2.0-dev and libglade2-dev are needed to use the gconfig interface.

For each menu entry in the configuration tool, you can find associated help that describes the purpose of the entry.

Once everything is configured, the configuration tool generates a .config file that contains the description of your configuration. It will be used by the Makefiles to do what’s needed.

Let’s go:

 $ make

You should never use make -jN with Buildroot: it does not support top-level parallel make. Instead, use the BR2_JLEVEL option to tell Buildroot to run each package compilation with make -jN.

This command will generally perform the following steps:

  • Download source files (as required)

  • Configure, build and install the cross-compiling toolchain if an internal toolchain is used, or import a toolchain if an external toolchain is used

  • Build/install selected target packages

  • Build a kernel image, if selected

  • Build a bootloader image, if selected

  • Create a root filesystem in selected formats

Buildroot output is stored in a single directory, output/. This directory contains several subdirectories:

  • images/ where all the images (kernel image, bootloader and root filesystem images) are stored.

  • build/ where all the components except for the cross-compilation toolchain are built (this includes tools needed to run Buildroot on the host and packages compiled for the target). The build/ directory contains one subdirectory for each of these components.

  • staging/ which contains a hierarchy similar to a root filesystem hierarchy. This directory contains the installation of the cross-compilation toolchain and all the userspace packages selected for the target. However, this directory is not intended to be the root filesystem for the target: it contains a lot of development files, unstripped binaries and libraries that make it far too big for an embedded system. These development files are used to compile libraries and applications for the target that depend on other libraries.

  • target/ which contains almost the complete root filesystem for the target: everything needed is present except the device files in /dev/ (Buildroot can’t create them because Buildroot doesn’t run as root and doesn’t want to run as root). Therefore, this directory should not be used on your target. Instead, you should use one of the images built in the images/ directory. If you need an extracted image of the root filesystem for booting over NFS, then use the tarball image generated in images/ and extract it as root. Compared to staging/, target/ contains only the files and libraries needed to run the selected target applications: the development files (headers, etc.) are not present, unless the development files in target filesystem option is selected.

  • host/ contains the installation of tools compiled for the host that are needed for the proper execution of Buildroot, including the cross-compilation toolchain.

  • toolchain/ contains the build directories for the various components of the cross-compilation toolchain.

Offline builds

If you intend to do an offline build and just want to download all sources that you previously selected in the configurator (menuconfig, xconfig or gconfig), then issue:

 $ make source

You can now disconnect or copy the content of your dl directory to the build-host.

Building out-of-tree

Buildroot supports building out of tree with a syntax similar to the Linux kernel. To use it, add O=<directory> to the make command line:

 $ make O=/tmp/build

Or:

 $ cd /tmp/build; make O=$PWD -C path/to/buildroot

All the output files will be located under /tmp/build.

When using out-of-tree builds, the Buildroot .config and temporary files are also stored in the output directory. This means that you can safely run multiple builds in parallel using the same source tree as long as they use unique output directories.

For ease of use, Buildroot generates a Makefile wrapper in the output directory - So after the first run, you no longer need to pass O=.. and -C .., simply run (in the output directory):

 $ make <target>

Environment variables

Buildroot also honors some environment variables, when they are passed to make or set in the environment:

  • HOSTCXX, the host C++ compiler to use

  • HOSTCC, the host C compiler to use

  • UCLIBC_CONFIG_FILE=<path/to/.config>, path to the uClibc configuration file, used to compile uClibc, if an internal toolchain is being built

  • BUSYBOX_CONFIG_FILE=<path/to/.config>, path to the Busybox configuration file

  • BUILDROOT_DL_DIR to override the directory in which Buildroot stores/retrieves downloaded files

An example that uses config files located in the toplevel directory and in your $HOME:

 $ make UCLIBC_CONFIG_FILE=uClibc.config BUSYBOX_CONFIG_FILE=$HOME/bb.config

If you want to use a compiler other than the default gcc or g++ for building helper-binaries on your host, then do

 $ make HOSTCXX=g++-4.3-HEAD HOSTCC=gcc-4.3-HEAD

Customization

Customizing the generated target filesystem

There are a few ways to customize the resulting target filesystem:

  • Customize the target filesystem directly and rebuild the image. The target filesystem is available under output/target/. You can simply make your changes here and run make afterwards - this will rebuild the target filesystem image. This method allows you to do anything to the target filesystem, but if you decide to completely rebuild your toolchain and tools, these changes will be lost.

  • Create your own target skeleton. You can start with the default skeleton available under fs/skeleton and then customize it to suit your needs. The BR2_ROOTFS_SKELETON_CUSTOM and BR2_ROOTFS_SKELETON_CUSTOM_PATH will allow you to specify the location of your custom skeleton. At build time, the contents of the skeleton are copied to output/target before any package installation.

  • In the Buildroot configuration, you can specify the path to a post-build script, that gets called after Buildroot builds all the selected software, but before the rootfs packages are assembled. The destination root filesystem folder is given as the first argument to this script, and this script can then be used to copy programs, static data or any other needed file to your target filesystem.<br/>You should, however, use this feature with care. Whenever you find that a certain package generates wrong or unneeded files, you should fix that package rather than work around it with a post-build cleanup script.

  • A special package, customize, stored in package/customize can be used. You can put all the files that you want to see in the final target root filesystem in package/customize/source, and then enable this special package in the configuration system.

Customizing the Busybox configuration

Busybox is very configurable, and you may want to customize it. You can follow these simple steps to do so. This method isn’t optimal, but it’s simple, and it works:

  • Do an initial compilation of Buildroot, with busybox, without trying to customize it.

  • Invoke make busybox-menuconfig. The nice configuration tool appears, and you can customize everything.

  • Run the compilation of Buildroot again.

Otherwise, you can simply change the package/busybox/busybox-<version>.config file, if you know the options you want to change, without using the configuration tool.

If you want to use an existing config file for busybox, then see section [env-vars].

Customizing the uClibc configuration

Just like BusyBox, uClibc offers a lot of configuration options. They allow you to select various functionalities depending on your needs and limitations.

The easiest way to modify the configuration of uClibc is to follow these steps:

  • Do an initial compilation of Buildroot without trying to customize uClibc.

  • Invoke make uclibc-menuconfig. The nice configuration assistant, similar to the one used in the Linux kernel or Buildroot, appears. Make your configuration changes as appropriate.

  • Copy the $(O)/toolchain/uclibc-VERSION/.config file to a different place (like toolchain/uClibc/uClibc-myconfig.config, or board/mymanufacturer/myboard/uClibc.config) and adjust the uClibc configuration (configuration option BR2_UCLIBC_CONFIG) to use this configuration instead of the default one.

  • Run the compilation of Buildroot again.

Otherwise, you can simply change toolchain/uClibc/uClibc.config, without running the configuration assistant.

If you want to use an existing config file for uclibc, then see [env-vars].

Customizing the Linux kernel configuration

The Linux kernel configuration can be customized just like BusyBox and uClibc using make linux-menuconfig. Make sure you have enabled the kernel build in make menuconfig first. Once done, run make to (re)build everything.

If you want to use an existing config file for Linux, then see [env-vars].

Understanding how to rebuild packages

One of the most common questions asked by Buildroot users is how to rebuild a given package or how to remove a package without rebuilding everything from scratch.

Removing a package is currently unsupported by Buildroot without rebuilding from scratch. This is because Buildroot doesn’t keep track of which package installs what files in the output/staging and output/target directories. However, implementing clean package removal is on the TODO-list of Buildroot developers.

The easiest way to rebuild a single package from scratch is to remove its build directory in output/build. Buildroot will then re-extract, re-configure, re-compile and re-install this package from scratch.

However, if you don’t want to rebuild the package completely from scratch, a better understanding of the Buildroot internals is needed. Internally, to keep track of which steps have been done and which steps remain to be done, Buildroot maintains stamp files (empty files that just tell whether this or that action has been done). The problem is that these stamp files are not uniformly named and handled by the different packages, so some understanding of the particular package is needed.

For packages relying on Buildroot packages infrastructures (see this section for details), the following stamp files are relevant:

  • output/build/packagename-version/.stamp_configured. If removed, Buildroot will trigger the recompilation of the package from the configuration step (execution of ./configure).

  • output/build/packagename-version/.stamp_built. If removed, Buildroot will trigger the recompilation of the package from the compilation step (execution of make).

For other packages, an analysis of the specific package.mk file is needed. For example, the zlib Makefile used to look like this (before it was converted to the generic package infrastructure):

$(ZLIB_DIR)/.configured: $(ZLIB_DIR)/.patched
        (cd $(ZLIB_DIR); rm -rf config.cache; \
                [...]
        )
        touch $@

$(ZLIB_DIR)/libz.a: $(ZLIB_DIR)/.configured
        $(MAKE) -C $(ZLIB_DIR) all libz.a
        touch -c $@

If you want to trigger the reconfiguration, you need to remove output/build/zlib-version/.configured. If you want to trigger only the recompilation, you need to remove output/build/zlib-version/libz.a.

Note that most packages, if not all, will progressively be ported over to the generic or autotools infrastructure, making it much easier to rebuild individual packages.

How Buildroot works

As mentioned above, Buildroot is basically a set of Makefiles that download, configure, and compile software with the correct options. It also includes patches for various software packages - mainly the ones involved in the cross-compilation tool chain (gcc, binutils and uClibc).

There is basically one Makefile per software package, and they are named with the .mk extension. Makefiles are split into three main sections:

  • toolchain (in the toolchain/ directory) contains the Makefiles and associated files for all software related to the cross-compilation toolchain: binutils, gcc, gdb, kernel-headers and uClibc.

  • package (in the package/ directory) contains the Makefiles and associated files for all user-space tools that Buildroot can compile and add to the target root filesystem. There is one sub-directory per tool.

  • target (in the target directory) contains the Makefiles and associated files for software related to the generation of the target root filesystem image. Four types of filesystems are supported: ext2, jffs2, cramfs and squashfs. For each of them there is a sub-directory with the required files. There is also a default/ directory that contains the target filesystem skeleton.

Each directory contains at least 2 files:

  • something.mk is the Makefile that downloads, configures, compiles and installs the package something.

  • Config.in is a part of the configuration tool description file. It describes the options related to the package.

The main Makefile performs the following steps (once the configuration is done):

  • Create all the output directories: staging, target, build, stamps, etc. in the output directory (output/ by default, another value can be specified using O=)

  • Generate all the targets listed in the BASE_TARGETS variable. When an internal toolchain is used, this means generating the cross-compilation toolchain. When an external toolchain is used, this means checking the features of the external toolchain and importing it into the Buildroot environment.

  • Generate all the targets listed in the TARGETS variable. This variable is filled by all the individual components' Makefiles. Generating these targets will trigger the compilation of the userspace packages (libraries, programs), the kernel, the bootloader and the generation of the root filesystem images, depending on the configuration.

Using the generated toolchain outside Buildroot

You may want to compile, for your target, your own programs or other software that are not packaged in Buildroot. In order to do this you can use the toolchain that was generated by Buildroot.

The toolchain generated by Buildroot is located by default in output/host/. The simplest way to use it is to add output/host/usr/bin/ to your PATH environment variable and then to use ARCH-linux-gcc, ARCH-linux-objdump, ARCH-linux-ld, etc.

It is possible to relocate the toolchain - but then --sysroot must be passed every time the compiler is called to tell where the libraries and header files are.

It is also possible to generate the Buildroot toolchain in a directory other than output/host by using the Build options → Host dir option. This could be useful if the toolchain must be shared with other users.

Using an external toolchain

Using an already existing toolchain is useful for different reasons:

  • you already have a toolchain that is known to work for your specific CPU

  • you want to speed up the Buildroot build process by skipping the long toolchain build part

  • the toolchain generation feature of Buildroot is not sufficiently flexible for you (for example if you need to generate a system with glibc instead of uClibc)

Buildroot supports using existing toolchains through a mechanism called external toolchain. The external toolchain mechanism is enabled in the Toolchain menu, by selecting External toolchain in Toolchain type.

Then, you have three solutions to use an external toolchain:

  • Use a predefined external toolchain profile, and let Buildroot download, extract and install the toolchain. Buildroot already knows about a few CodeSourcery toolchains for ARM, PowerPC, MIPS and SuperH. Just select the toolchain profile in Toolchain through the available ones. This is definitely the easiest solution.

  • Use a predefined external toolchain profile, but instead of having Buildroot download and extract the toolchain, you can tell Buildroot where your toolchain is already installed on your system. Just select the toolchain profile in Toolchain through the available ones, unselect Download toolchain automatically, and fill the Toolchain path text entry with the path to your cross-compiling toolchain.

  • Use a completely custom external toolchain. This is particularly useful for toolchains generated using Crosstool-NG. To do this, select the Custom toolchain solution in the Toolchain list. You need to fill the Toolchain path, Toolchain prefix and External toolchain C library options. Then, you have to tell Buildroot what your external toolchain supports. If your external toolchain uses the glibc library, you only have to tell whether your toolchain supports C or not. If your external toolchain uses the uclibc library, then you have to tell Buildroot if it supports largefile, IPv6, RPC, wide-char, locale, program invocation, threads and C. At the beginning of the execution, Buildroot will tell you if the selected options do not match the toolchain configuration.

Our external toolchain support has been tested with toolchains from CodeSourcery, toolchains generated by Crosstool-NG, and toolchains generated by Buildroot itself. In general, all toolchains that support the sysroot feature should work. If not, do not hesitate to contact the developers.

We do not support toolchains from the ELDK of Denx, for two reasons:

  • The ELDK does not contain a pure toolchain (i.e just the compiler, binutils, the C and C++ libraries), but a toolchain that comes with a very large set of pre-compiled libraries and programs. Therefore, Buildroot cannot import the sysroot of the toolchain, as it would contain hundreds of megabytes of pre-compiled libraries that are normally built by Buildroot.

  • The ELDK toolchains have a completely non-standard custom mechanism to handle multiple library variants. Instead of using the standard GCC multilib mechanism, the ARM ELDK uses different symbolic links to the compiler to differentiate between library variants (for ARM soft-float and ARM VFP), and the PowerPC ELDK compiler uses a CROSS_COMPILE environment variable. This non-standard behaviour makes it difficult to support ELDK in Buildroot.

We also do not support using the distribution toolchain (i.e the gcc/binutils/C library installed by your distribution) as the toolchain to build software for the target. This is because your distribution toolchain is not a "pure" toolchain (i.e only with the C/C++ library), so we cannot import it properly into the Buildroot build environment. So even if you are building a system for a x86 or x86_64 target, you have to generate a cross-compilation toolchain with Buildroot or Crosstool-NG.

Using ccache in Buildroot

ccache is a compiler cache. It stores the object files resulting from each compilation process, and is able to skip future compilation of the same source file (with same compiler and same arguments) by using the pre-existing object files. When doing almost identical builds from scratch a number of times, it can nicely speed up the build process.

ccache support is integrated in Buildroot. You just have to enable Enable compiler cache in Build options. This will automatically build ccache and use it for every host and target compilation.

The cache is located in $HOME/.buildroot-ccache. It is stored outside of Buildroot output directory so that it can be shared by separate Buildroot builds. If you want to get rid of the cache, simply remove this directory.

You can get statistics on the cache (its size, number of hits, misses, etc.) by running make ccache-stats.

Location of downloaded packages

It might be useful to know that the various tarballs that are downloaded by the Makefiles are all stored in the DL_DIR which by default is the dl directory. It’s useful, for example, if you want to keep a complete version of Buildroot which is known to be working with the associated tarballs. This will allow you to regenerate the toolchain and the target filesystem with exactly the same versions.

If you maintain several Buildroot trees, it might be better to have a shared download location. This can be accessed by creating a symbolic link from the dl directory to the shared download location:

 $ ln -s <shared download location> dl

Another way of accessing a shared download location is to create the BUILDROOT_DL_DIR environment variable. If this is set, then the value of DL_DIR in the project is overridden. The following line should be added to <~/.bashrc>.

 $ export BUILDROOT_DL_DIR <shared download location>

Adding new packages to Buildroot

This section covers how new packages (userspace libraries or applications) can be integrated into Buildroot. It also shows how existing packages are integrated, which is needed for fixing issues or tuning their configuration.

Package directory

First of all, create a directory under the package directory for your software, for example libfoo.

Some packages have been grouped by topic in a sub-directory: multimedia, java, x11r7, and games. If your package fits in one of these categories, then create your package directory in these.

Config.in file

Then, create a file named Config.in. This file will contain the option descriptions related to our libfoo software that will be used and displayed in the configuration tool. It should basically contain :

config BR2_PACKAGE_LIBFOO
        bool "libfoo"
        help
          This is a comment that explains what libfoo is.

          http://foosoftware.org/libfoo/

Of course, you can add other options to configure particular things in your software. You can look at examples in other packages. The syntax of the Config.in file is the same as the one for the kernel Kconfig file. The documentation for this syntax is available at http://lxr.free-electrons.com/source/Documentation/kbuild/kconfig-language.txt

Finally you have to add your new libfoo/Config.in to package/Config.in (or in a category subdirectory if you decided to put your package in one of the existing categories). The files included there are sorted alphabetically per category and are NOT supposed to contain anything but the bare name of the package.

source "package/libfoo/Config.in"

The .mk file

Finally, here’s the hardest part. Create a file named libfoo.mk. It describes how the package should be downloaded, configured, built, installed, etc.

Depending on the package type, the .mk file must be written in a different way, using different infrastructures:

  • Makefiles for generic packages (not using autotools): These are based on an infrastructure similar to the one used for autotools-based packages, but requires a little more work from the developer. They specify what should be done for the configuration, compilation, installation and cleanup of the package. This infrastructure must be used for all packages that do not use the autotools as their build system. In the future, other specialized infrastructures might be written for other build systems. We cover them through in [gentargets-tutorial] and [gentargets-reference].

  • Makefiles for autotools-based software (autoconf, automake, etc.): We provide a dedicated infrastructure for such packages, since autotools is a very common build system. This infrastructure <i>must </i> be used for new packages that rely on the autotools as their build system.<br/>We cover them through a <a href="#autotools-tutorial">tutorial</a> and a <a href="#autotools-reference">reference</a>.</li>

  • Manual Makefiles: These are currently obsolete, and no new manual Makefiles should be added. However, since there are still many of them in the tree, we keep them documented in a <a href="#manual-tutorial">tutorial</a>.</li>

Infrastructure for packages with specific build systems

By packages with specific build systems we mean all the packages whose build system is not one of the standard ones, such as autotools or CMake. This typically includes packages whose build system is based on hand-written Makefiles or shell scripts.

GENTARGETS Tutorial

01: #############################################################
02: #
03: # libfoo
04: #
05: #############################################################
06: LIBFOO_VERSION = 1.0
07: LIBFOO_SOURCE = libfoo-$(LIBFOO_VERSION).tar.gz
08: LIBFOO_SITE = http://www.foosoftware.org/download
09: LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING = YES
10: LIBFOO_DEPENDENCIES = host-libaaa libbbb
11:
12: define LIBFOO_BUILD_CMDS
13:     $(MAKE) CC=$(TARGET_CC) LD=$(TARGET_LD) -C $(@D) all
14: endef
15:
16: define LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING_CMDS
17:     $(INSTALL) -D -m 0755 $(@D)/libfoo.a $(STAGING_DIR)/usr/lib/libfoo.a
18:     $(INSTALL) -D -m 0644 $(@D)/foo.h $(STAGING_DIR)/usr/include/foo.h
19:     $(INSTALL) -D -m 0755 $(@D)/libfoo.so* $(STAGING_DIR)/usr/lib
20: endef
21:
22: define LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET_CMDS
23:     $(INSTALL) -D -m 0755 $(@D)/libfoo.so* $(TARGET_DIR)/usr/lib
24:     $(INSTALL) -d -m 0755 $(TARGET_DIR)/etc/foo.d
25: endef
26:
27: $(eval $(call GENTARGETS,package,libfoo))

The Makefile begins on line 6 to 8 with metadata information: the version of the package (LIBFOO_VERSION), the name of the tarball containing the package (LIBFOO_SOURCE) and the Internet location at which the tarball can be downloaded (LIBFOO_SITE). All variables must start with the same prefix, LIBFOO_ in this case. This prefix is always the uppercased version of the package name (see below to understand where the package name is defined).

On line 9, we specify that this package wants to install something to the staging space. This is often needed for libraries, since they must install header files and other development files in the staging space. This will ensure that the commands listed in the LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING_CMDS variable will be executed.

On line 10, we specify the list of dependencies this package relies on. These dependencies are listed in terms of lower-case package names, which can be packages for the target (without the host- prefix) or packages for the host (with the host-) prefix). Buildroot will ensure that all these packages are built and installed before the current package starts its configuration.

The rest of the Makefile defines what should be done at the different steps of the package configuration, compilation and installation. LIBFOO_BUILD_CMDS tells what steps should be performed to build the package. LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING_CMDS tells what steps should be performed to install the package in the staging space. LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET_CMDS tells what steps should be performed to install the package in the target space.

All these steps rely on the $(@D) variable, which contains the directory where the source code of the package has been extracted.

Finally, on line 27, we call the GENTARGETS which generates, according to the variables defined previously, all the Makefile code necessary to make your package working.

GENTARGETS Reference

The GENTARGETS macro takes three arguments:

  • The first argument is the package directory prefix. If your package is in package/libfoo, then the directory prefix is package. If your package is in package/editors/foo, then the directory prefix must be package/editors.

  • The second argument is the lower-cased package name. It must match the prefix of the variables in the .mk file and must match the configuration option name in the Config.in file. For example, if the package name is libfoo, then the variables in the .mk file must start with LIBFOO_ and the configuration option in the Config.in file must be BR2_PACKAGE_LIBFOO.

  • The third argument is optional. It can be used to tell if the package is a target package (cross-compiled for the target) or a host package (natively compiled for the host). If unspecified, it is assumed that it is a target package. See below for details.

For a given package, in a single .mk file, it is possible to call GENTARGETS twice, once to create the rules to generate a target package and once to create the rules to generate a host package:

$(eval $(call GENTARGETS,package,libfoo))
$(eval $(call GENTARGETS,package,libfoo,host))

This might be useful if the compilation of the target package requires some tools to be installed on the host. If the package name is libfoo, then the name of the package for the target is also libfoo, while the name of the package for the host is host-libfoo. These names should be used in the DEPENDENCIES variables of other packages, if they depend on libfoo or host-libfoo.

The call to the GENTARGETS macro must be at the end of the .mk file, after all variable definitions.

For the target package, the GENTARGETS uses the variables defined by the .mk file and prefixed by the uppercased package name: LIBFOO_*. For the host package, it uses the HOST_LIBFOO_*. For some variables, if the HOST_LIBFOO_ prefixed variable doesn’t exist, the package infrastructure uses the corresponding variable prefixed by LIBFOO_. This is done for variables that are likely to have the same value for both the target and host packages. See below for details.

The list of variables that can be set in a .mk file to give metadata information is (assuming the package name is libfoo) :

  • LIBFOO_VERSION, mandatory, must contain the version of the package. Note that if HOST_LIBFOO_VERSION doesn’t exist, it is assumed to be the same as LIBFOO_VERSION. It can also be a Subversion or Git branch or tag, for packages that are fetched directly from their revision control system.
    Example: LIBFOO_VERSION = 0.1.2

  • LIBFOO_SOURCE may contain the name of the tarball of the package. If HOST_LIBFOO_SOURCE is not specified, it defaults to LIBFOO_VERSION. If none are specified, then the value is assumed to be packagename-$(LIBFOO_VERSION).tar.gz.
    Example: LIBFOO_SOURCE = foobar-$(LIBFOO_VERSION).tar.bz2

  • LIBFOO_PATCH may contain the name of a patch, that will be downloaded from the same location as the tarball indicated in LIBFOO_SOURCE. If HOST_LIBFOO_PATCH is not specified, it defaults to LIBFOO_PATCH. Also note that another mechanism is available to patch a package: all files of the form packagename-packageversion-description.patch present in the package directory inside Buildroot will be applied to the package after extraction.

  • LIBFOO_SITE may contain the Internet location of the package. It can either be the HTTP or FTP location of a tarball, or the URL of a Git or Subversion repository (see LIBFOO_SITE_METHOD below). If HOST_LIBFOO_SITE is not specified, it defaults to LIBFOO_SITE. If none are specified, then the location is assumed to be http://$$(BR2_SOURCEFORGE_MIRROR).dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/packagename.
    Examples: LIBFOO_SITE=http://www.libfoosoftware.org/libfoo
    LIBFOO_SITE=http://svn.xiph.org/trunk/Tremor/

  • LIBFOO_SITE_METHOD may contain the method to fetch the package source code. It can either be wget (for normal FTP/HTTP downloads of tarballs), svn, git or bzr. When not specified, it is guessed from the URL given in LIBFOO_SITE: svn://, git:// and bzr:// URLs will use the svn, git and bzr methods respectively. All other URL-types will use the wget method. So for example, in the case of a package whose source code is available through Subversion repository on HTTP, one must specifiy LIBFOO_SITE_METHOD=svn. For svn and git methods, what Buildroot does is a checkout/clone of the repository which is then tarballed and stored into the download cache. Next builds will not checkout/clone again, but will use the tarball directly. When HOST_LIBFOO_SITE_METHOD is not specified, it defaults to the value of LIBFOO_SITE_METHOD. See package/multimedia/tremor/ for an example.

  • LIBFOO_DEPENDENCIES lists the dependencies (in terms of package name) that are required for the current target package to compile. These dependencies are guaranteed to be compiled and installed before the configuration of the current package starts. In a similar way, HOST_LIBFOO_DEPENDENCIES lists the dependency for the current host package.

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING can be set to YES or NO (default). If set to YES, then the commands in the LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING_CMDS variables are executed to install the package into the staging directory.

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET can be set to YES (default) or NO. If set to YES, then the commands in the LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET_CMDS variables are executed to install the package into the target directory.

The recommended way to define these variables is to use the following syntax:

LIBFOO_VERSION = 2.32

Now, the variables that define what should be performed at the different steps of the build process.

  • LIBFOO_CONFIGURE_CMDS, used to list the actions to be performed to configure the package before its compilation

  • LIBFOO_BUILD_CMDS, used to list the actions to be performed to compile the package

  • HOST_LIBFOO_INSTALL_CMDS, used to list the actions to be performed to install the package, when the package is a host package. The package must install its files to the directory given by $(HOST_DIR). All files, including development files such as headers should be installed, since other packages might be compiled on top of this package.

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET_CMDS, used to list the actions to be performed to install the package to the target directory, when the package is a target package. The package must install its files to the directory given by $(TARGET_DIR). Only the files required for documentation and execution of the package should be installed. Header files should not be installed, they will be copied to the target, if the development files in target filesystem option is selected.

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING_CMDS, used to list the actions to be performed to install the package to the staging directory, when the package is a target package. The package must install its files to the directory given by $(STAGING_DIR). All development files should be installed, since they might be needed to compile other packages.

  • LIBFOO_CLEAN_CMDS, used to list the actions to perform to clean up the build directory of the package.

  • LIBFOO_UNINSTALL_TARGET_CMDS, used to list the actions to uninstall the package from the target directory $(TARGET_DIR)

  • LIBFOO_UNINSTALL_STAGING_CMDS, used to list the actions to uninstall the package from the staging directory $(STAGING_DIR).

The preferred way to define these variables is:

define LIBFOO_CONFIGURE_CMDS
        action 1
        action 2
        action 3
endef

In the action definitions, you can use the following variables:

  • $(@D), which contains the directory in which the package source code has been uncompressed.

  • $(TARGET_CC), $(TARGET_LD), etc. to get the target cross-compilation utilities

  • $(TARGET_CROSS) to get the cross-compilation toolchain prefix

  • Of course the $(HOST_DIR), $(STAGING_DIR) and $(TARGET_DIR) variables to install the packages properly.

The last feature of the generic infrastructure is the ability to add hooks. These define further actions to perform after existing steps. Most hooks aren’t really useful for generic packages, since the .mk file already has full control over the actions performed in each step of the package construction. The hooks are more useful for packages using the autotools infrastructure described below. However, since they are provided by the generic infrastructure, they are documented here. The exception is LIBFOO_POST_PATCH_HOOKS. Patching the package is not user definable, so LIBFOO_POST_PATCH_HOOKS will be userful for generic packages.

The following hook points are available:

  • LIBFOO_POST_PATCH_HOOKS

  • LIBFOO_PRE_CONFIGURE_HOOKS

  • LIBFOO_POST_CONFIGURE_HOOKS

  • LIBFOO_POST_BUILD_HOOKS

  • LIBFOO_POST_INSTALL_HOOKS (for host packages only)

  • LIBFOO_POST_INSTALL_STAGING_HOOKS (for target packages only)

  • LIBFOO_POST_INSTALL_TARGET_HOOKS (for target packages only)

These variables are lists of variable names containing actions to be performed at this hook point. This allows several hooks to be registered at a given hook point. Here is an example:

define LIBFOO_POST_PATCH_FIXUP
        action1
        action2
endef

LIBFOO_POST_PATCH_HOOKS += LIBFOO_POST_PATCH_FIXUP

Infrastructure for autotools-based packages

AUTOTARGETS tutorial

First, let’s see how to write a .mk file for an autotools-based package, with an example :

01: #############################################################
02: #
03: # libfoo
04: #
05: #############################################################
06: LIBFOO_VERSION = 1.0
07: LIBFOO_SOURCE = libfoo-$(LIBFOO_VERSION).tar.gz
08: LIBFOO_SITE = http://www.foosoftware.org/download
09: LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING = YES
10: LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET = YES
11: LIBFOO_CONF_OPT = --enable-shared
12: LIBFOO_DEPENDENCIES = libglib2 host-pkg-config
13:
14: $(eval $(call AUTOTARGETS,package,libfoo))

On line 6, we declare the version of the package.

On line 7 and 8, we declare the name of the tarball and the location of the tarball on the Web. Buildroot will automatically download the tarball from this location.

On line 9, we tell Buildroot to install the package to the staging directory. The staging directory, located in output/staging/ is the directory where all the packages are installed, including their development files, etc. By default, packages are not installed to the staging directory, since usually, only libraries need to be installed in the staging directory: their development files are needed to compile other libraries or applications depending on them. Also by default, when staging installation is enabled, packages are installed in this location using the make install command.

On line 10, we tell Buildroot to also install the package to the target directory. This directory contains what will become the root filesystem running on the target. Usually, we try not to install header files and to install stripped versions of the binary. By default, target installation is enabled, so in fact, this line is not strictly necessary. Also by default, packages are installed in this location using the make install command.

On line 11, we tell Buildroot to pass a custom configure option, that will be passed to the ./configure script before configuring and building the package.

On line 12, we declare our dependencies, so that they are built before the build process of our package starts.

Finally, on line line 14, we invoke the AUTOTARGETS macro that generates all the Makefile rules that actually allows the package to be built.

AUTOTARGETS reference

The main macro of the autotools package infrastructure is AUTOTARGETS. It has the same number of arguments and the same semantic as the GENTARGETS macro, which is the main macro of the generic package infrastructure. For autotools packages, the ability to have target and host packages is also available (and is actually widely used).

Just like the generic infrastructure, the autotools infrastructure works by defining a number of variables before calling the AUTOTARGETS macro.

First, all the package metadata information variables that exist in the generic infrastructure also exist in the autotools infrastructure: LIBFOO_VERSION, LIBFOO_SOURCE, LIBFOO_PATCH, LIBFOO_SITE, LIBFOO_SUBDIR, LIBFOO_DEPENDENCIES, LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING, LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET.

A few additional variables, specific to the autotools infrastructure, can also be defined. Many of them are only useful in very specific cases, typical packages will therefore only use a few of them.

  • LIBFOO_SUBDIR may contain the name of a subdirectory inside the package that contains the configure script. This is useful, if for example, the main configure script is not at the root of the tree extracted by the tarball. If HOST_LIBFOO_SUBDIR is not specified, it defaults to LIBFOO_SUBDIR.

  • LIBFOO_CONF_ENV, to specify additional environment variables to pass to the configure script. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_CONF_OPT, to specify additional configure options to pass to the configure script. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_MAKE, to specify an alternate make command. This is typically useful when parallel make is enabled in the configuration (using BR2_JLEVEL) but that this feature should be disabled for the given package, for one reason or another. By default, set to $(MAKE). If parallel building is not supported by the package, then it should be set to LIBFOO_MAKE=$(MAKE1).

  • LIBFOO_MAKE_ENV, to specify additional environment variables to pass to make in the build step. These are passed before the make command. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_MAKE_OPT, to specify additional variables to pass to make in the build step. These are passed after the make command. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_AUTORECONF, tells whether the package should be autoreconfigured or not (i.e, if the configure script and Makefile.in files should be re-generated by re-running autoconf, automake, libtool, etc.). Valid values are YES and NO. By default, the value is NO

  • LIBFOO_AUTORECONF_OPT to specify additional options passed to the autoreconf program if LIBFOO_AUTORECONF=YES. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_LIBTOOL_PATCH tells whether the Buildroot patch to fix libtool cross-compilation issues should be applied or not. Valid values are YES and NO. By default, the value is YES

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING_OPT contains the make options used to install the package to the staging directory. By default, the value is DESTDIR=$$(STAGING_DIR) install, which is correct for most autotools packages. It is still possible to override it.

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET_OPT contains the make options used to install the package to the target directory. By default, the value is DESTDIR=$$(TARGET_DIR) install. The default value is correct for most autotools packages, but it is still possible to override it if needed.

  • LIBFOO_CLEAN_OPT contains the make options used to clean the package. By default, the value is clean.

  • LIBFOO_UNINSTALL_STAGING_OPT, contains the make options used to uninstall the package from the staging directory. By default, the value is DESTDIR=$$(STAGING_DIR) uninstall.

  • LIBFOO_UNINSTALL_TARGET_OPT, contains the make options used to uninstall the package from the target directory. By default, the value is DESTDIR=$$(TARGET_DIR) uninstall.

With the autotools infrastructure, all the steps required to build and install the packages are already defined, and they generally work well for most autotools-based packages. However, when required, it is still possible to customize what is done in any particular step:

  • By adding a post-operation hook (after extract, patch, configure, build or install). See the reference documentation of the generic infrastructure for details.

  • By overriding one of the steps. For example, even if the autotools infrastructure is used, if the package .mk file defines its own LIBFOO_CONFIGURE_CMDS variable, it will be used instead of the default autotools one. However, using this method should be restricted to very specific cases. Do not use it in the general case.

Infrastructure for CMake-based packages

CMAKETARGETS tutorial

First, let’s see how to write a .mk file for a CMake-based package, with an example :

01: #############################################################
02: #
03: # libfoo
04: #
05: #############################################################
06: LIBFOO_VERSION = 1.0
07: LIBFOO_SOURCE = libfoo-$(LIBFOO_VERSION).tar.gz
08: LIBFOO_SITE = http://www.foosoftware.org/download
09: LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING = YES
10: LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET = YES
11: LIBFOO_CONF_OPT = -DBUILD_DEMOS=ON
12: LIBFOO_DEPENDENCIES = libglib2 host-pkg-config
13:
14: $(eval $(call CMAKETARGETS,package,libfoo))

On line 6, we declare the version of the package.

On line 7 and 8, we declare the name of the tarball and the location of the tarball on the Web. Buildroot will automatically download the tarball from this location.

On line 9, we tell Buildroot to install the package to the staging directory. The staging directory, located in output/staging/ is the directory where all the packages are installed, including their development files, etc. By default, packages are not installed to the staging directory, since usually, only libraries need to be installed in the staging directory: their development files are needed to compile other libraries or applications depending on them. Also by default, when staging installation is enabled, packages are installed in this location using the make install command.

On line 10, we tell Buildroot to also install the package to the target directory. This directory contains what will become the root filesystem running on the target. Usually, we try not to install header files and to install stripped versions of the binary. By default, target installation is enabled, so in fact, this line is not strictly necessary. Also by default, packages are installed in this location using the make install command.

On line 11, we tell Buildroot to pass custom options to CMake when it is configuring the package.

On line 12, we declare our dependencies, so that they are built before the build process of our package starts.

Finally, on line line 14, we invoke the CMAKETARGETS macro that generates all the Makefile rules that actually allows the package to be built.

CMAKETARGETS reference

<h4 id="cmake-reference">Makefile for CMake packages : reference</h4>

The main macro of the CMake package infrastructure is CMAKETARGETS. It has the same number of arguments and the same semantic as the GENTARGETS macro, which is the main macro of the generic package infrastructure. For CMake packages, the ability to have target and host packages is also available.

Just like the generic infrastructure, the CMake infrastructure works by defining a number of variables before calling the CMAKETARGETS macro.

First, all the package metadata information variables that exist in the generic infrastructure also exist in the CMake infrastructure: LIBFOO_VERSION, LIBFOO_SOURCE, LIBFOO_PATCH, LIBFOO_SITE, LIBFOO_SUBDIR, LIBFOO_DEPENDENCIES, LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING, LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET.

A few additional variables, specific to the CMake infrastructure, can also be defined. Many of them are only useful in very specific cases, typical packages will therefore only use a few of them.

  • LIBFOO_SUBDIR may contain the name of a subdirectory inside the package that contains the main CMakeLists.txt file. This is useful, if for example, the main CMakeLists.txt file is not at the root of the tree extracted by the tarball. If HOST_LIBFOO_SUBDIR is not specified, it defaults to LIBFOO_SUBDIR.

  • LIBFOO_CONF_ENV, to specify additional environment variables to pass to CMake. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_CONF_OPT, to specify additional configure options to pass to CMake. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_MAKE, to specify an alternate make command. This is typically useful when parallel make is enabled in the configuration (using BR2_JLEVEL) but that this feature should be disabled for the given package, for one reason or another. By default, set to $(MAKE). If parallel building is not supported by the package, then it should be set to LIBFOO_MAKE=$(MAKE1).

  • LIBFOO_MAKE_ENV, to specify additional environment variables to pass to make in the build step. These are passed before the make command. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_MAKE_OPT, to specify additional variables to pass to make in the build step. These are passed after the make command. By default, empty.

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_STAGING_OPT contains the make options used to install the package to the staging directory. By default, the value is DESTDIR=$$(STAGING_DIR) install, which is correct for most CMake packages. It is still possible to override it.

  • LIBFOO_INSTALL_TARGET_OPT contains the make options used to install the package to the target directory. By default, the value is DESTDIR=$$(TARGET_DIR) install. The default value is correct for most CMake packages, but it is still possible to override it if needed.

  • LIBFOO_CLEAN_OPT contains the make options used to clean the package. By default, the value is clean.

With the CMake infrastructure, all the steps required to build and install the packages are already defined, and they generally work well for most CMake-based packages. However, when required, it is still possible to customize what is done in any particular step:

  • By adding a post-operation hook (after extract, patch, configure, build or install). See the reference documentation of the generic infrastructure for details.

  • By overriding one of the steps. For example, even if the CMake infrastructure is used, if the package .mk file defines its own LIBFOO_CONFIGURE_CMDS variable, it will be used instead of the default CMake one. However, using this method should be restricted to very specific cases. Do not use it in the general case.

Manual Makefile

NOTE: new manual makefiles should not be created, and existing manual makefiles should be converted either to the generic, autotools or cmake infrastructure. This section is only kept to document the existing manual makefiles and to help understand how they work.

01: #############################################################
02: #
03: # libfoo
04: #
05: #############################################################
06: LIBFOO_VERSION:=1.0
07: LIBFOO_SOURCE:=libfoo-$(LIBFOO_VERSION).tar.gz
08: LIBFOO_SITE:=http://www.foosoftware.org/downloads
09: LIBFOO_DIR:=$(BUILD_DIR)/foo-$(FOO_VERSION)
10: LIBFOO_BINARY:=foo
11: LIBFOO_TARGET_BINARY:=usr/bin/foo
12:
13: $(DL_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_SOURCE):
14:     $(call DOWNLOAD,$(LIBFOO_SITE),$(LIBFOO_SOURCE))
15:
16: $(LIBFOO_DIR)/.source: $(DL_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_SOURCE)
17:     $(ZCAT) $(DL_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_SOURCE) | tar -C $(BUILD_DIR) $(TAR_OPTIONS) -
18:     touch $@
19:
20: $(LIBFOO_DIR)/.configured: $(LIBFOO_DIR)/.source
21:     (cd $(LIBFOO_DIR); rm -rf config.cache; \
22:             $(TARGET_CONFIGURE_OPTS) \
23:             $(TARGET_CONFIGURE_ARGS) \
24:             ./configure \
25:             --target=$(GNU_TARGET_NAME) \
26:             --host=$(GNU_TARGET_NAME) \
27:             --build=$(GNU_HOST_NAME) \
28:             --prefix=/usr \
29:             --sysconfdir=/etc \
30:     )
31:     touch $@
32:
33: $(LIBFOO_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_BINARY): $(LIBFOO_DIR)/.configured
34:     $(MAKE) CC=$(TARGET_CC) -C $(LIBFOO_DIR)
35:
36: $(TARGET_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_TARGET_BINARY): $(LIBFOO_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_BINARY)
37:     $(MAKE) DESTDIR=$(TARGET_DIR) -C $(LIBFOO_DIR) install-strip
38:     rm -Rf $(TARGET_DIR)/usr/man
39:
40: libfoo: uclibc ncurses $(TARGET_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_TARGET_BINARY)
41:
42: libfoo-source: $(DL_DIR)/$(LIBFOO_SOURCE)
43:
44: libfoo-clean:
45:     $(MAKE) prefix=$(TARGET_DIR)/usr -C $(LIBFOO_DIR) uninstall
46:     -$(MAKE) -C $(LIBFOO_DIR) clean
47:
48: libfoo-dirclean:
49:     rm -rf $(LIBFOO_DIR)
50:
51: #############################################################
52: #
53: # Toplevel Makefile options
54: #
55: #############################################################
56: ifeq ($(BR2_PACKAGE_LIBFOO),y)
57: TARGETS+=libfoo
58: endif

First of all, this Makefile example works for a package which comprises a single binary executable. For other software, such as libraries or more complex stuff with multiple binaries, it must be qqadapted. For examples look at the other *.mk files in the package directory.

At lines 6-11, a couple of useful variables are defined:

  • LIBFOO_VERSION: The version of libfoo that should be downloaded.

  • LIBFOO_SOURCE: The name of the tarball of libfoo on the download website or FTP site. As you can see LIBFOO_VERSION is used.

  • LIBFOO_SITE: The HTTP or FTP site from which libfoo archive is downloaded. It must include the complete path to the directory where LIBFOO_SOURCE can be found.

  • LIBFOO_DIR: The directory into which the software will be configured and compiled. Basically, it’s a subdirectory of BUILD_DIR which is created upon decompression of the tarball.

  • LIBFOO_BINARY: Software binary name. As said previously, this is an example for a package with a single binary.

  • LIBFOO_TARGET_BINARY: The full path of the binary inside the target filesystem. Lines 13-14 define a target that downloads the tarball from the remote site to the download directory (DL_DIR).

Lines 16-18 define a target and associated rules that uncompress the downloaded tarball. As you can see, this target depends on the tarball file so that the previous target (lines 13-14) is called before executing the rules of the current target. Uncompressing is followed by touching a hidden file to mark the software as having been uncompressed. This trick is used everywhere in a Buildroot Makefile to split steps (download, uncompress, configure, compile, install) while still having correct dependencies.

Lines 20-31 define a target and associated rules that configure the software. It depends on the previous target (the hidden .source file) so that we are sure the software has been uncompressed. In order to configure the package, it basically runs the well-known ./configure script. As we may be doing cross-compilation, target, host and build arguments are given. The prefix is also set to /usr, not because the software will be installed in /usr on your host system, but because the software will be installed in + /usr+ on the target filesystem. Finally it creates a .configured file to mark the software as configured.

Lines 33-34 define a target and a rule that compile the software. This target will create the binary file in the compilation directory and depends on the software being already configured (hence the reference to the .configured file). It basically runs make inside the source directory.

Lines 36-38 define a target and associated rules that install the software inside the target filesystem. They depend on the binary file in the source directory to make sure the software has been compiled. They use the install-strip target of the software Makefile by passing a DESTDIR argument so that the Makefile doesn’t try to install the software in the host /usr but rather in the target /usr. After the installation, the +/usr/man + directory inside the target filesystem is removed to save space.

Line 40 defines the main target of the software — the one that will eventually be used by the top level Makefile to download, compile, and then install this package. This target should first of all depend on all needed dependencies of the software (in our example, uclibc and ncurses) and also depend on the final binary. This last dependency will call all previous dependencies in the correct order.

Line 42 defines a simple target that only downloads the code source. This is not used during normal operation of Buildroot, but is needed if you intend to download all required sources at once for later offline build. Note that if you add a new package, providing a libfoo-source target is mandatory to support users that wish to do offline-builds. Furthermore, it eases checking if all package-sources are downloadable.

Lines 44-46 define a simple target to clean the software build by calling the Makefile with the appropriate options. The -clean target should run make clean on $(BUILD_DIR)/package-version and MUST uninstall all files of the package from $(STAGING_DIR) and from $(TARGET_DIR).

Lines 48-49 define a simple target to completely remove the directory in which the software was uncompressed, configured and compiled. The -dirclean target MUST completely rm $(BUILD_DIR)/ package-version.

Lines 51-58 add the target libfoo to the list of targets to be compiled by Buildroot, by first checking if the configuration option for this package has been enabled using the configuration tool. If so, it then "subscribes" this package to be compiled by adding the package to the TARGETS global variable. The name added to the TARGETS global variable is the name of this package’s target, as defined on line 40, which is used by Buildroot to download, compile, and then install this package.

Gettext integration and interaction with packages

Many packages that support internationalization use the gettext library. Dependencies for this library are fairly complicated and therefore, deserves some explanation.

The uClibc C library doesn’t implement gettext functionality, therefore with this C library, a separate gettext must be compiled. On the other hand, the glibc C library does integrate its own gettext, and in this case, the separate gettext library should not be compiled, because it creates various kinds of build failures.

Additionally, some packages (such as libglib2) do require gettext unconditionally, while other packages (those who support --disable-nls in general) only require gettext when locale support is enabled.

Therefore, Buildroot defines two configuration options:

  • BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT, which is true as soon as the toolchain doesn’t provide its own gettext implementation

  • BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT_IF_LOCALE, which is true if the toolchain doesn’t provide its own gettext implementation and if locale support is enabled

Therefore, packages that unconditionally need gettext should:

  • Use select BR2_PACKAGE_GETTEXT if BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT and possibly select BR2_PACKAGE_LIBINTL if BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT, if libintl is also needed

  • Use $(if $(BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT),gettext) in the package DEPENDENCIES variable

Packages that need gettext only when locale support is enabled should:

  • Use select BR2_PACKAGE_GETTEXT if BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT_IF_LOCALE and possibly select BR2_PACKAGE_LIBINTL if BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT_IF_LOCALE, if libintl is also needed

  • Use $(if $(BR2_NEEDS_GETTEXT_IF_LOCALE),gettext) in the package DEPENDENCIES variable

Conclusion

As you can see, adding a software package to Buildroot is simply a matter of writing a Makefile using an existing example and modifying it according to the compilation process required by the package.

If you package software that might be useful for other people, don’t forget to send a patch to Buildroot developers!