Report from the Buildroot Developer Day

Right after the Embedded Linux Conference Europe, a new edition of the Buildroot Developer Day took place on Saturday, 29th October 2011 in Prague.

Unlike past Buildroot Developer Day that were followed only by Buildroot developers and Yann E. Morin as the crosstool-NG maintainer, this edition of the Buildroot Developer Day was followed by developers of other build systems: Robert Schwebel from PTXdist, Esben Haabendal from OE-lite and we also had the opportunity to discuss with Benjamin Zores and Davide Calvalca from OpenBricks. This made the day very interesting, even though if it was a bit less focused on Buildroot than expected.

I have written and sent a complete report of the discussions, which were about the following topics:

  • Expanding the initiative. This was an important topic, as developers of several build systems had the opportunity to discuss it during this meeting.
  • The testing infrastructure of Buildroot, how to improve it.
  • Package management. A long requested feature for Buildroot, but which would make Buildroot a lot more complicated and probably less reliable. Following this meeting, our position is to not implement such a feature and to keep Buildroot simple. Should package management be necessary, there are other build systems that implement such a feature (at the expense of higher complexity, of course).
  • Toolchain backend. We will soon switch to using the crosstool-NG backend as the default method of building toolchains in Buildroot. Long term, we would like to get rid of the code that builds a toolchain in Buildroot in order to factorize the efforts at the level of the crosstool-NG project.
  • Migration of the documentation to the asciidoc format has been accepted, and the next version of Buildroot will feature this updated documentation.
  • Out-of-tree build of packages. This is a very internal question to how Buildroot builds package. See the report for details.
  • Website improvement, because the current Buildroot website is quite ugly.
  • Maintenance process. We are seeing a quite significant increase in the number of contributions to Buildroot and some of these contributions are taking more and more time to get integrated. We discussed the topic and came up with a few proposals on how to improve the situation.
  • Host packages visible in menuconfig. Traditionally, packages built for the host are not user-selectable as Buildroot since they are just dependencies to build target packages. However, we had the case of some host packages that should be user-selectable. The principle has been agreed upon.
  • Per-package device file handling. A mechanism proposed by Maxime Ripard, from Bootlin, to allow each package to specify special permissions/owernships/device files to install in the target filesystem.
  • Relocatable toolchain and SDK. Buildroot produces a SDK (set of utilities and libraries to build applications for the target independently from Buildroot), but this SDK is currently not relocatable. We discussed the various issues to fix to make it relocatable.
  • Licensing report generation, which is also a feature that has been requested in the past.

All in all, it was a very interesting and motivating day, that got closed by a short visit of Prague’s center and a nice dinner. The next edition of the Buildroot Developer day will take place on Friday, 3rd 2012 in Brussels, the day before the FOSDEM conference. It is open to all Buildroot users and developers!

Regarding Buildroot itself, the maintainer Peter Korsgaard will release 2011.11-rc1 early next week, and 2011.11 by the end of November. This release will have several new useful features, which we will cover in details in a future blog post.

Author: Thomas Petazzoni

Thomas Petazzoni is Bootlin's co-owner and CEO. Thomas joined Bootlin in 2008 as a kernel and embedded Linux engineer, became CTO in 2013, and co-owner/CEO in 2021. More details...

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