Embedded Linux Development Using Yocto Project Cookbook - Second Edition

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By Alex González
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  1. The Build System

About this book

The Yocto Project has become the de facto distribution build framework for reliable and robust embedded systems with a reduced time to market.

You'll get started by working on a build system where you set up Yocto, create a build directory, and learn how to debug it. Then, you'll explore everything about the BSP layer, from creating a custom layer to debugging device tree issues. In addition to this, you’ll learn how to add a new software layer, packages, data, scripts, and configuration files to your system. You will then cover topics based on application development, such as using the Software Development Kit and how to use the Yocto project in various development environments. Toward the end, you will learn how to debug, trace, and profile a running system. This second edition has been updated to include new content based on the latest Yocto release.

Publication date:
January 2018


Chapter 1. The Build System

In this chapter, we will cover the following recipes:

  • Setting up the host system
  • Installing Poky
  • Creating a build directory
  • Building your first image
  • Explaining the NXP Yocto ecosystem
  • Installing support for NXP hardware
  • Building Wandboard images
  • Using the Toaster web interface
  • Running a Toaster Docker container
  • Configuring network booting for a development setup
  • Using Docker as a Yocto build system container
  • Sharing downloads
  • Sharing the shared state cache
  • Setting up a package feed
  • Using build history
  • Working with build statistics
  • Debugging the build system


The Yocto Project (http://www.yoctoproject.org/) is an embedded Linux distribution builder that makes use of several other open source projects. In this book, the generic term Yocto refers to the Yocto Project.

A Linux distribution is a collection of software packages and policies, and there are hundreds of Linux distributions available. Most of these are not designed for embedded systems and they lack the flexibility needed to accomplish target footprint sizes and functionality tweaks, as well as not catering well for resource constrained systems.

The Yocto Project, in contrast, is not a distribution per se; it allows you to create a Linux distribution designed for your particular embedded system. The Yocto Project provides a reference distribution for embedded Linux, called Poky.

The Yocto Project has the BitBake and OpenEmbedded-Core (OE-Core) projects at its base. Together they form the Yocto build system which builds the components needed for an embedded Linux product, namely:

  • A bootloader image
  • A Linux kernel image
  • A root filesystem image
  • Toolchains and software development kits (SDKs) for application development

With these, the Yocto Project covers the needs of both system and application developers. When the Yocto Project is used as an integration environment for bootloaders, the Linux kernel, and user space applications, we refer to it as system development.

For application development, the Yocto Project builds SDKs that enable the development of applications independently of the Yocto build system.

The Yocto Project makes a new release every 6 months. The latest release at the time of this writing is Yocto 2.4 Rocko, and all the examples in this book refer to the 2.4 release.

A Yocto release comprises the following components:

  • Poky, the reference build system and distribution
  • Board Support Packages (BSPs) with the recipes needed to support different architectures and boards
  • Build Appliance, a virtual machine image ready to use Yocto
  • Standard and extensible SDKs for the host system
  • Eclipse plugins

And for the different supported platforms:

  • Prebuilt toolchains
  • Prebuilt images

The Yocto 2.4 release is available to download from http://downloads.yoctoproject.org/releases/yocto/yocto-2.4/.


Setting up the host system

This recipe will explain how to set up a host Linux system to use the Yocto Project.

Getting ready

The recommended way to develop an embedded Linux system is using a native Linux workstation. Development work using virtual machines, such as the Build Appliance, is discouraged, although they may be used for demo and test purposes.

Docker containers are increasingly used as they provide a maintainable way to build the same version of Yocto over the course of several years, which is a common need for embedded systems with long product lifetimes. We will cover using Docker as a Yocto build system in the Using Docker as a Yocto build system container recipe in this same chapter.

Yocto builds all the components mentioned before from scratch, including the cross-compilation toolchain and the native tools it needs, so the Yocto build process is demanding in terms of processing power and both hard drive space and I/O.

Although Yocto will work fine on machines with lower specifications, for professional developers' workstations, it is recommended to use symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems with 8 GB or more system memory and a high capacity, fast hard drive, and solid state drives (SSD) if possible. Due to different bottlenecks in the build process, there does not seem to be much improvement above eight CPUs or around 16 GB RAM.

The first build will also download all the sources from the internet, so a fast internet connection is also recommended.

How to do it...

Yocto supports several Linux host distributions, and each Yocto release will document a list of the supported ones. Although the use of a supported Linux distribution is strongly advised, Yocto is able to run on any Linux system if it has the following dependencies:

  • Git or greater
  • Tar 1.27 or greater
  • Python 3.4.0 or greater

Yocto also provides a way to install the correct version of these tools by either downloading a buildtools-tarball or building one on a supported machine. This allows virtually any Linux distribution to be able to run Yocto, and also makes sure that it will be possible to replicate your Yocto build system in the future. The Yocto Project build system also isolates itself from the host distribution's C library, which makes it possible to share build caches between different distributions and also helps in future-proofing the build system. This is important for embedded products with long-term availability requirements.

This book will use the Ubuntu 16.04 Long-Term Stable (LTS) Linux distribution for all examples. Instructions to install on other Linux distributions can be found in the Supported Linux Distributions section of the Yocto Project Reference Manual, but the examples will only be tested with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

To make sure you have the required package dependencies installed for Yocto and to follow the examples in the book, run the following command from your shell:

$ sudo apt-get install gawk wget git-core diffstat unzip texinfo gcc-multilib build-essential chrpath socat libsdl1.2-dev xterm bmap-tools make xsltproc docbook-utils fop dblatex xmlto cpio python python3 python3-pip python3-pexpect xz-utils debianutils iputils-ping python-git bmap-tools python3-git curl parted dosfstools mtools gnupg autoconf automake libtool  libglib2.0-dev python-gtk2  bsdmainutils  screen libstdc++-5-dev libx11-dev


Downloading the example codeYou can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at http://www.packtpub.com. If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www.packtpub.com/support and register to have the files emailed directly to you. The example code in the book can be accessed through several GitHub repositories at https://github.com/yoctocookbook2ndedition. Follow the instructions on GitHub to obtain a copy of the source in your computer.

You will also need to configure the Git revision control software as follows:

$ git config --global user.email "[email protected]"$ git config --global user.name "Your Name"

How it works...

The preceding command uses apt-get, the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) command-line tool. It is a frontend of the dpkg package manager that is included in the Ubuntu distribution. It will install all the required packages and their dependencies to support all the features of the Yocto Project as well as the examples in this book.

Git is a distributed source control versioning system under the General Public License v2 (GNU) originally developed by Linus Torvalds for the development of the Linux kernel. Since then, it has become the standard for many open source projects. Git will be the tool of choice for source version control used in this book.

There's more...

If build times are an important factor for you, there are certain steps you can take when preparing your disks to optimize them even further:

  • Place the build directories on their own disk partition or a fast external solid state drive.
  • Use the ext4 filesystem but configure it not to use journalism on your Yocto-dedicated partitions. Be aware that power losses may corrupt your build data.
  • Mount the filesystem in such a way that read times are not written/recorded on file reads, disable write barriers, and delay committing filesystem changes with the following mount options:

These changes reduce the data integrity safeguards, but with the separation of the build directories to their own disk, failures would only affect temporary build data, which can be erased and regenerated.

See also


Installing Poky

This recipe will explain how to set up your host Linux system with Poky, the Yocto Project reference system.

Getting ready

Poky uses the OpenEmbedded build system and, as such, uses the BitBake tool, a task scheduler written in Python which is forked from Gentoo's Portage tool. You can think of BitBake as the make utility in Yocto. It will parse the configuration and recipe metadata, schedule a task list, and run through it.

BitBake is also the command-line interface to Yocto.

Poky and BitBake are two of the open source projects used by Yocto:

  • The Poky project is maintained by the Yocto community. You can download Poky from its Git repository at http://git.yoctoproject.org/cgit/cgit.cgi/poky/.
    • Development discussions can be followed and contributed to by visiting the development mailing list at https://lists.yoctoproject.org/listinfo/poky.
    • Poky development takes place in the master branch. Before merging submitted patches into the master, maintainers test them in the master-next branch.
    • Stable Yocto releases have their own branch. Yocto 2.4 is maintained in the rocko branch, and Yocto releases are tagged in that branch.
  • BitBake, on the other hand, is maintained by both the Yocto and OpenEmbedded communities, as the tool is used by both. BitBake can be downloaded from its Git repository at http://git.openembedded.org/bitbake/.
    • Development discussions can be followed and contributed to by visiting the development mailing list at http://lists.openembedded.org/mailman/listinfo/bitbake-devel.
    • Bitbake also uses master and master-next in the same way, but then creates a new branch per release, for example 1.32, with tags going into the corresponding release branch.

The Poky distribution only supports virtualized QEMU machines for the following architectures:

  • ARM (qemuarm, qemuarm64)
  • x86 (qemux86)
  • x86-64 (qemux86-64)
  • PowerPC (qemuppc)
  • MIPS (qemumips, qemumips64)

Apart from these, it also supports some reference hardware BSPs, representative of the architectures just listed. These are:

  • Texas Instruments BeagleBone (beaglebone)
  • Freescale MPC8315E-RDB (mpc8315e-rdb)
  • Intel x86-based PCs and devices (genericx86 and genericx86-64)
  • Ubiquiti Networks EdgeRouter Lite (edgerouter)

To develop on different hardware, you will need to complement Poky with hardware-specific Yocto layers. This will be covered later on.

How to do it...

The Poky project incorporates a stable BitBake release, so to get started with Yocto, we only need to install Poky in our Linux host system.


Note that you can also install BitBake independently through your distribution's package management system. This is not recommended and can be a source of problems, as BitBake needs to be compatible with the metadata used in Yocto. If you have installed BitBake from your distribution, please remove it.

The current Yocto release is 2.4, or Rocko, so we will install that into our host system. We will use the /opt/yocto folder as the installation path:

$ sudo install -o $(id -u) -g $(id -g) -d /opt/yocto$ cd /opt/yocto$ git clone --branch rocko git://git.yoctoproject.org/poky

How it works...

The previous instructions use Git (the source code management system command-line tool) to clone the Poky repository, which includes BitBake, into a new poky directory under /opt/yocto, and point it to the rocko stable branch.

There's more...

Poky contains three metadata directories, meta, meta-poky, and meta-yocto-bsp, as well as a template metadata layer, meta-skeleton, which can be used as a base for new layers. Poky's three metadata directories are explained here:

  • meta: This directory contains the OpenEmbedded-core metadata, which supports the ARM, ARM64, x86, x86-64, PowerPC, MIPS, and MIPS64 architectures and the QEMU emulated hardware. You can download it from its Git repository at http://git.openembedded.org/openembedded-core/.

Development discussions can be followed and contributed to by visiting the development mailing list at http://lists.openembedded.org/mailman/listinfo/openembedded-core.

  • meta-poky: This contains Poky's distribution-specific metadata.
  • meta-yocto-bsp: This contains metadata for the reference hardware boards.

See also


Creating a build directory

Before building your first Yocto image, we need to create a build directory for it.

The build process, on a host system as outlined before, can take up to 1 hour and needs around 20 GB of hard drive space for a console-only image. A graphical image, such as core-image-sato, can take up to 4 hours for the build process and occupy around 50 GB of space.

How to do it...

The first thing we need to do is create a build directory for our project, where the build output will be generated. Sometimes, the build directory may be referred to as the project directory, but build directory is the appropriate Yocto term.

There is no right way to structure the build directories when you have multiple projects, but a good practice is to have one build directory per architecture or machine type. They can all share a common downloads folder, and even a shared state cache (this will be covered later on), so keeping them separate won't affect the build performance, but it will allow you to develop on multiple projects simultaneously.

To create a build directory, we use the oe-init-build-env script provided by Poky. The script needs to be sourced into your current shell, and it will set up your environment to use the OpenEmbedded/Yocto build system, including adding the BitBake utility to your path.

You can specify a build directory to use or it will use build by default. We will use qemuarm for this example:

$ cd /opt/yocto/poky$ source oe-init-build-env qemuarm

The script will change to the specified directory.


As oe-init-build-env only configures the current shell, you will need to source it on every new shell. But, if you point the script to an existing build directory, it will set up your environment but won't change any of your existing configurations.

BitBake is designed with a client/server abstraction, so we can also start a persistent server and connect a client to it. To instruct a BitBake server to stay resident, configure a timeout in seconds in your build directory's conf/local.conf configuration file as follows:


With n being the time in seconds for BitBake to stay resident.

With this setup, loading cache and configuration information each time is avoided, which saves some overhead.

How it works...

The oe-init-build-env script calls scripts/oe-setup-builddir script inside the Poky directory to create the build directory.

On creation, the qemuarm build directory contains a conf directory with the following three files:

  • bblayers.conf: This file lists the metadata layers to be considered for this project.
  • local.conf: This file contains the project-specific configuration variables. You can set common configuration variables to different projects with a site.conf file, but this is not created by default. Similarly, there is also an auto.conf file which is used by autobuilders. BitBake will first read site.conf, then auto.conf, and finally local.conf.
  • templateconf.cfg: This file contains the directory that includes the template configuration files used to create the project. By default it uses the one pointed to by the templateconf file in your Poky installation directory, which is meta-poky/conf by default.


To start a build from scratch, that's all the build directory needs. Erasing everything apart from these files will recreate your build from scratch, as shown here:$ cd /opt/yocto/poky/qemuarm$ rm -Rf tmp sstate-cache

There's more...

You can specify different template configuration files to use when you create your build directory using the TEMPLATECONF variable, for example:

$ TEMPLATECONF=meta-custom/config source oe-init-build-env <build-dir>

The TEMPLATECONF variable needs to refer to a directory containing templates for both local.conf and bblayer.conf, but named local.conf.sample and bblayers.conf.sample.

For our purposes, we can use the unmodified default project configuration files.


Building your first image

Before building our first image, we need to decide what type of image we want to build. This recipe will introduce some of the available Yocto images and provide instructions to build a simple image.

Getting ready

Poky contains a set of default target images. You can list them by executing the following commands:

$ cd /opt/yocto/poky$ ls meta*/recipes*/images/*.bb

A full description of the different images can be found in the Yocto Project Reference Manual, on Chapter 13, Images. Typically, these default images are used as a base and customized for your own project needs. The most frequently used base default images are:

  • core-image-minimal: This is the smallest BusyBox, sysvinit, and udev-based console-only image
  • core-image-full-cmdline: This is the BusyBox-based console-only image with full hardware support and a more complete Linux system, including Bash
  • core-image-lsb: This is a console-only image that is based on Linux Standard Base (LSB) compliance
  • core-image-x11: This is the basic X11 Windows-system-based image with a graphical terminal
  • core-image-sato: This is the X11 Window-system-based image with a SATO theme and a GNOME mobile desktop environment
  • core-image-weston: This is a Wayland protocol and Weston reference compositor-based image

You will also find images with the following suffixes:

  • dev: This image is suitable for development work, as it contains headers and libraries
  • sdk: This image includes a complete SDK that can be used for development on the target
  • initramfs: This is an image that can be used for a RAM-based root filesystem, which can optionally be embedded with the Linux kernel

How to do it...

  1. To build an image, we need to configure the machine we are building it for and pass its name to BitBake. For example, for the qemuarm machine, we would run the following:
$ cd /opt/yocto/poky/$ source /opt/yocto/poky/oe-init-build-env qemuarm$ MACHINE=qemuarm bitbake core-image-minimal
  1. Or we could export the MACHINE variable to the current shell environment before sourcing the oe-init-build-env script with the following:
$ export MACHINE=qemuarm
  1. On an already configured project, we could also edit the conf/local.conf configuration file to change the default machine to qemuarm:
- #MACHINE ?= "qemuarm"
+ MACHINE ?= "qemuarm"
  1. Then, after setting up the environment, we execute the following:
$ bitbake core-image-minimal

With the preceding steps, BitBake will launch the build process for the specified target image.

How it works...

When you pass a target recipe to BitBake, it first parses the following configuration files in order:

  • conf/bblayers.conf: This file is parsed to find all the configured layers
  • conf/layer.conf: This file is parsed on each configured layer
  • meta/conf/bitbake.conf: This file is parsed for its own configuration
  • conf/local.conf: This file is used for any other configuration the user may have for the current build
  • conf/machine/<machine>.conf: This file is the machine configuration; in our case, this is qemuarm.conf
  • conf/distro/<distro>.conf: This file is the distribution policy; by default, this is the poky.conf file

There are also some other distribution variants included with Poky:

    • poky-bleeding: Extension to the Poky default distribution that includes the most up-to-date versions of packages
    • poky-lsb: LSB compliance extension to Poky
    • poky-tiny: Oriented to create headless systems with the smallest Linux kernel and BusyBox read-only or RAM-based root filesystems, using the musl C library

And then, BitBake parses the target recipe that has been provided and its dependencies. The outcome is a set of interdependent tasks that BitBake will then execute in order.

A depiction of the BitBake build process is shown in the following diagram:

BitBake build process

There's more...

Most developers won't be interested in keeping the whole build output for every package, so it is recommended to configure your project to remove it with the following configuration in your conf/local.conf file:

INHERIT += "rm_work" 

But at the same time, configuring it for all packages means that you won't be able to develop or debug them.

You can add a list of packages to exclude from cleaning by adding them to the RM_WORK_EXCLUDE variable. For example, if you are going to do BSP work, a good setting might be:

RM_WORK_EXCLUDE += "linux-wandboard u-boot-fslc" 

Remember that you can use a custom template local.conf.sample configuration file in your own layer to keep these configurations and apply them for all projects so that they can be shared across all developers.

On a normal build, the -dbg packages that include debug symbols are not needed. To avoid creating -dbg packages, do this:


Once the build finishes, you can find the output images in the tmp/deploy/images/qemuarm directory inside your build directory.

You can test run your images on the QEMU emulator by executing this:

$ runqemu qemuarm core-image-minimal

The runqemu script included in Poky's scripts directory is a launch wrapper around the QEMU machine emulator to simplify its usage.

The Yocto Project also has a set of precompiled images for supported hardware platforms that can be downloaded from http://downloads.yoctoproject.org/releases/yocto/yocto-2.4/machines/.


Explaining the NXP Yocto ecosystem

As we saw, Poky metadata starts with the meta, meta-poky, and meta-yocto-bsp layers, and it can be expanded by using more layers.

An index of the available OpenEmbedded layers that are compatible with the Yocto Project is maintained at http://layers.openembedded.org/.

An embedded product's development usually starts with hardware evaluation using a manufacturer's reference board design. Unless you are working with one of the reference boards already supported by Poky, you will need to extend Poky to support your hardware by adding extra BSP layers.

Getting ready

The first thing to do is to select which base hardware your design is going to be based on. We will use a board that is based on a NXP i.MX6 System on Chip (SoC) as a starting point for our embedded product design.

This recipe gives an overview of the support for NXP hardware in the Yocto Project.

How to do it...

The SoC manufacturer (in this case, NXP) has a range of reference design boards for purchase, as well as official Yocto-based software releases. Similarly, other manufacturers that use NXP's SoCs offer reference design boards and their own Yocto-based BSP layers and even distributions.

Selecting the appropriate hardware to base your design on is one of the most important design decisions for an embedded product. Depending on your product needs, you will decide to either:

  • Use a production-ready board, like a single-board computer (SBC)
  • Use a System-on-Module (SoM) and build your custom carrier board around it
  • Use NXP's SoC directly and design your own board

Most of the time, a production-ready board will not match the specific requirements of a professional embedded system, and the process of designing a complete carrier board using NXP's SoC would be too time consuming. So, using an appropriate module that already solves the most technically challenging design aspects is a common choice.

Some of the characteristics that are important to consider are:

  • Industrial temperature ranges
  • Power management
  • Long-term availability
  • Pre-certified wireless and Bluetooth (if applicable)

The Yocto community that support NXP-based boards is called the FSL community BSP and their main layers are called meta-freescale and meta-freescale-3rdparty. The Freescale brand was acquired by NXP with the purchase of Freescale. The selection of boards that are supported on meta-freescale is limited to NXP reference designs, which would be the starting point if you are considering designing your own carrier board around NXP's SoC. Boards from other vendors are maintained on the meta-freescale-3rdparty layer.

There are other embedded manufacturers that use meta-freescale, but they have not integrated their boards in the meta-freescale-3rdparty community layer. These manufacturers keep their own BSP layers, which depend on meta-freescale, with specific support for their hardware. An example of this is Digi International and its ConnectCore product range, with the Yocto layers available at https://github.com/digi-embedded/meta-digi. There is also a Yocto-based distribution available called Digi Embedded Yocto.

How it works...

To understand NXP's Yocto ecosystem, we need to start with the FSL community BSP, comprising the meta-freescale layer with support for NXP's reference boards, and its companion, meta-freescale-3rdparty, with support for boards from other vendors, and its differences with the official NXP Yocto BSP releases that NXP offers for their reference designs.

There are some key differences between the community and NXP Yocto releases:

  • NXP releases are developed internally by NXP without community involvement and are used for BSP validation on NXP reference boards.
  • NXP releases go through an internal QA and validation test process, and they are maintained by NXP support.
  • NXP releases for a specific platform reach a maturity point, after which they are no longer worked on. At this point, all the development work has been integrated into the community layer and the platforms are further maintained by the FSL BSP community.
  • NXP Yocto releases are not Yocto compatible, while the community release is.

NXP's engineering works very closely with the FSL BSP community to make sure that all development in their official releases is integrated in the community layer in a reliable and quick manner.

The FSL BSP community is also very responsive and active, so problems can usually be worked on with them to benefit all parts.

There's more...

The FSL community BSP extends Poky with the following layers:

  • meta-freescale: This is the community layer that supports NXP reference designs. It has a dependency on OpenEmbedded-Core. Machines in this layer will be maintained even after NXP stops active development on them. You can download meta-freescale from its Git repository at http://git.yoctoproject.org/cgit/cgit.cgi/meta-freescale/.

Development discussions can be followed and contributed to by visiting the development mailing list at https://lists.yoctoproject.org/listinfo/meta-freescale.

The meta-freescale layer provides both the i.MX6 Linux kernel and the U-Boot source either from NXP's or from FSL community BSP maintained repositories using the following links:

Other Linux kernel and U-Boot versions are available, but keeping the manufacturer's supported version is recommended.

The meta-freescale layer includes NXP's proprietary binaries to enable some hardware features—most notably its hardware graphics, multimedia, and encryption capabilities. To make use of these capabilities, the end user needs to accept the NXP End-User License Agreement (EULA), which is included in the meta-freescale layer.

This layer adds two different sets of distributions, one maintained by the FSL BSP community (fslc- distributions) and one maintained by NXP (fsl- distributions). They are a superset of Poky that allows you to easily choose the graphical backend to use between:

    • framebuffer
    • x11
    • Wayland
    • XWayland

We will learn more about the different graphical backends in Chapter 4, Application Development.

NXP uses another layer on top of the layers previously mentioned for their official software releases:

NXP-based platforms extended layers hierarchy

See also


Installing support for NXP hardware

In this recipe, we will install the FSL community BSP Yocto release that adds support for NXP hardware to our Yocto installation.

Getting ready

With so many layers, manually cloning each of them and adding them to your project's conf/bblayers.conf file is cumbersome. The community uses the repo tool developed by Google for their community Android to simplify the installation of Yocto.

To install repo in your host system, type in the following commands:

$ mkdir -p ${HOME}/bin/
$ curl https://storage.googleapis.com/git-repo-downloads/repo >  
  ${HOME}/bin/repo$ chmod a+x ${HOME}/bin/repo

The repo tool is a Python utility that parses an XML file, called manifest, with a list of Git repositories. The repo tool is then used to manage those repositories as a whole.

How to do it...

For an example, we will use repo to download all the repositories listed in the previous recipe to our host system. For that, we will point it to the FSL community BSP manifest for the Rocko release:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> 
  <default sync-j="4" revision="master"/> 
  <remote fetch="https://git.yoctoproject.org/git" name="yocto"/> 
  <remote fetch="https://github.com/Freescale" name="freescale"/> 
  <remote fetch="https://github.com/openembedded" name="oe"/> 
  <project remote="yocto" revision="rocko" name="poky" path="sources/poky"/> 
  <project remote="yocto" revision="rocko" name="meta-freescale" path="sources/meta-freescale"/> 
  <project remote="oe" revision="rocko" name="meta-openembedded" path="sources/meta-openembedded"/> 
  <project remote="freescale" revision="rocko" name="fsl-community-bsp-base" path="sources/base"> 
    <linkfile dest="README" src="README"/> 
    <linkfile dest="setup-environment" src="setup-environment"/> 
  <project remote="freescale" revision="rocko" name="meta-freescale-3rdparty" path="sources/meta-freescale-3rdparty"/> 
  <project remote="freescale" revision="rocko" name="meta-freescale-distro" path="sources/meta-freescale-distro"/> 
  <project remote="freescale" revision="rocko" name="Documentation" path="sources/Documentation"/> 

The manifest file shows all the installation paths and repository sources for the different components that are going to be installed.

How it works...

The manifest file is a list of the different layers that are needed for the FSL community BSP release. We can now use repo to install it. Run the following:

$ mkdir /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp$ repo init -u https://github.com/Freescale/fsl-community-bsp-platform -b rocko$ repo sync


You can optionally pass a -jN argument to sync if you have a multicore machine for multithreaded operations; for example, you could pass repo sync -j8 in an eight-core host system.

There's more...

To list the hardware boards supported by the different layers, we may run:

$ ls sources/meta-freescale*/conf/machine/*.conf

And to list the newly introduced target images, use the following:

$ ls sources/meta-freescale*/recipes*/images/*.bb

The FSL community BSP release introduces the following new target images:

  • fsl-image-mfgtool-initramfs: This is a small, RAM-based initramfs image used with the NXP manufacturing tool
  • fsl-image-multimedia: This is a console-only image that includes the gstreamer multimedia framework over the framebuffer
  • fsl-image-multimedia-full: This is an extension of fsl-image-multimedia, that extends the gstreamer multimedia framework to include all available plugins
  • fsl-image-machine-test: This is an extension of fsl-image-multimedia-full for testing and benchmarking

The release includes a sources/Documentation repository with buildable documentation. To build, we first need to install some host tools as follows:

$ sudo apt-get install libfreetype6-dev libjpeg8-dev python3-dev python3-pip python3-sphinx texlive-fonts-recommended texlive-latex-extra zlib1g-dev fonts-liberation                                                         $ sudo pip3 install reportlab sphinxcontrib-blockdiag

And then we can build the different documents by entering its sub-directory, and build an HTML document with:

$ make singlehtml

Or a PDF version with:

$ make latexpdf

For example, to build the release notes in both HTML and PDF versions we do:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/sources/Documentation/release-notes$ make latexpdf singlehtml

The documents can be found inside the build/latex and build/singlehtml directories.

See also


Building Wandboard images

The Wandboard is an inexpensive NXP i.MX6-based board with broad community support. It is perfect for exploration and educational purposes, more feature rich than a Raspberry Pi, and much closer to professional high-end embedded systems.

Designed and sold by Technexion, a Taiwanese company, it comes in four flavors based around a SoM with different i.MX6 SoC variants, the solo, dual, quad, and quad plus, featuring one, two, or four cores.

Technexion made the schematics for both the board and the SoM available as PDF, which gave the board a taint of openness.

The Wandboard is still widely used, easy to purchase, and with a wide community, so we will use it as an example in the following chapters. However, any i.MX6-based board could be used to follow the book. The know-how will then be applicable to any embedded platform that uses the Yocto Project.

The Wandboard has been released in different revisions throughout its history: a0, b1, c1, and d1. The revision is printed on the PCB and it will become important as the software that runs in each revision differs.

The Wandboard features the following specification:

  • 2 GB RAM
  • Broadcom BCM4330 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • Broadcom BCM4330 4.0 Bluetooth
  • HDMI
  • USB
  • RS-232
  • uSD

Revision D introduced a MMPF0100 PMIC, replaced the Ethernet PHY Atheros AR8031 with Atheros AR8035, and replaced the BCM4330 with a BCM4339 802.11ac Wi-Fi, among other minor changes.

It is a perfect multimedia enabled system with a Vivante 2D and 3D graphical processing unit, hardware graphics and video acceleration, and an SGTL5000 audio codec. The different i.MX6-based systems are widely used in industrial control and automation, home automation, automotive, avionics, and other industrial applications.

For production, professional OEMs and products are recommended, as they can offer the industrial quality and temperature ranges, component availability, support, and manufacturing guarantees that final products require.

How to do it...

Support for the Wandboard is included in the meta-freescale-3rdparty FSL community BSP layer. All of the Wandboard board variants are bundled in a single Yocto machine called wandboard.

To build an image for the wandboard machine for the Poky distribution, use the following commands:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp$ MACHINE=wandboard DISTRO=poky source setup-environment wandboard$ bitbake core-image-minimal


The current version of the setup-environment script only works if the build directory is under the installation folder; in our case, /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp.

How it works...

The setup-environment script is a wrapper around the oe-init-build-env we used before. It will create a build directory, set up the MACHINE variable and DISTRO with the provided values, and prompt you to accept the NXP EULA as described earlier. Your conf/local.conf configuration file will be updated both with the specified machine and the EULA acceptance variable. To accept the license, the following line has been automatically added to the project's conf/local.conf configuration file:



Remember that if you close your Terminal session, you will need to set up the environment again before being able to use BitBake. You can safely rerun the setup-environment script shown next, as it will not touch an existing conf/local.conf file:$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/$ source setup-environment wandboard

The preceding BitBake command creates a core-image-minimal-wandboard.wic.gz file, that is, a compressed WIC file, inside the tmp/deploy/images/wandboard folder.

A WIC file is created by Yocto using the WIC tool and it is a partitioned image from Yocto build artifacts that can then be directly programmed.

This image can be programmed into a microSD card, inserted in the primary slot in the Wandboard CPU board (the one in the side of the i.MX6 SoM and under the heatsink), and booted using the following commands:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/tmp/deploy/images/wandboard/$ sudo bmaptool copy --nobmap core-image-minimal-wandboard.wic.gz /dev/sdN

Here, /dev/sdN corresponds to the device node assigned to the microSD card in your host system.


If the bmaptool utility is missing from your system, you can install it with:$ sudo apt-get install bmap-tools bmaptool will refuse to program mounted devices and it will complain with:bmaptool: ERROR: cannot open block device '/dev/sdN' in exclusive mode: [Errno 16] Device or resource busy: '/dev/sdN' You will need to unmount the SD card if Ubuntu auto mounted it with:$ sudo umount /dev/sdN Here, N is a letter assigned by the Linux kernel. Check the dmesg to find out the device name.

The --nobmap option passed to bmaptool requires some explanation. bmaptool is a utility specialized in copying data to block devices, similar to the traditional dd command. However, it has some extra functionality that makes it a very convenient tool to use in embedded device development work:

  • It is able to copy from compressed files, as we can see with the wic.gz file
  • It is able to use a BMAP file to speed up the copying of sparse files

When data is stored in a filesystem, blocks of data are mapped to disk sectors using an on-disk index. When a block of data is not mapped to any disk sector, it's called a hole, and files with holes are called sparse files. A BMAP file provides a list of mapped areas as well as checksums for both the BMAP file itself and the mapped areas.

Using this BMAP file, bmaptool can significantly speed up the process of copying sparse files.

However, as we are not using a BMAP file, we pass the --nobmap file and use bmaptool for the convenience of using a compressed file. It also has other optimizations over dd that make it a better tool for the job.

See also

More information about the different hardware mentioned in this section can be found at:


Using the Toaster web interface

Toaster is a web application interface to the Yocto Project's build system built on the Django framework with a database backend to store and represent build data. It replaces the Hob user interface, which could be found on releases prior to Yocto 1.8. The welcome page is shown next:

Welcome to Toaster

It allows you to perform the following actions:

  • Configure local or remote builds
  • Manage layers
  • Set configuration variables
  • Set build targets
  • Start builds either from the command line (analysis mode) or the web UI (managed mode)
  • Collect and represent build data
  • Browse final images
  • List installed packages
  • See build variable values
  • Explore recipes, packages, and task dependencies
  • Examine build warnings, errors, and trace messages
  • Provide build performance statistics
  • Examine build tasks and use of shared state cache

Getting ready

In order to run the Toaster Django web application, your host machine needs to be set up as follows:

$ sudo apt-get install python3-pip
$ pip3 install --user -r /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/toaster-requirements.txt

How to do it...

Toaster can be started with the following commands:

$ cd /opt/yocto/poky$ source oe-init-build-env$ source toaster start

/opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/bin/toaster is a shell script that will set up Toaster's environment, load the default configuration and database migrations, connect to the OpenEmbedded Layer Index, and download information about the metadata layers it has available for the current release, as well as starting the web server and the runbuilds poller process.

To access the web user interface, go to

By default, Toaster binds to localhost on port 8000, but this can be specified as follows:

$ source toaster start webport=<IP>:<PORT>

Administrator interface

The administrator interface can be accessed at

This administration interface can be used to configure Toaster itself, but it needs a superuser account to be created from the directory that contains the Toaster database:

$ cd /opt/yocto/poky/build$ ../bitbake/lib/toaster/manage.py createsuperuser

Starting a build

Toaster can run two different types of builds:

  1. You can manually start a build on the terminal and Toaster will monitor it. You can then use the Toaster web UI to explore the build results. The following image shows the command line builds page:

Toaster command line builds

  1. You can also use the Toaster web interface to create a new project. This will be named build-toaster-<project_id> and will be created inside the Poky directory:

Toaster's create a new project wizard

You can use the TOASTER_DIR configuration variable to specify a different build directory for Toaster.

When creating a Toaster project, you can choose between two different types:

  • Local builds: This uses the local Poky clone on your computer. Using this build type limits the build to the layers available on the Yocto Project, openembedded-core, meta-poky, and meta-yocto-bsp. Other layers would need to be manually imported using the Import Layer page.
  • Yocto Project builds: When a Yocto Project release is chosen, Toaster fetches the source from the Yocto Project upstream Git repositories, and updates it every time you run a build. In this mode, compatible layers can be selected, including BSP layers that allow you to build for different machines. The Toaster project configuration page looks like the following:

Toaster's project configuration page

Customizing images with Toaster

After an image is built, Toaster offers the possibility to create a custom image based on that image's recipe where packages can easily be added/removed.

Building SDKs with Toaster

You can instruct Toaster to build both the standard and the extensible SDK by specifying the populate_sdk and populate_sdk_ext tasks to the target image. For example, to create SDKs for the core-image-base target image, you would use the following.

For the standard SDK:


Or for the extensible SDK:


We will learn more about using SDKs on Chapter 4, Application Development.

How it works...

The version of Django that Toaster uses is specified on the /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/toaster-requirements.txt file, for example:


Django and hence Toaster store data in a relational database. The backend configuration is done in the /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/lib/toaster/toastermain/settings.py file as follows:

DATABASES = {                                                                       
    'default': {                                                                    
        # Add 'postgresql_psycopg2', 'mysql', 'sqlite3' or 'oracle'.                
        'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.sqlite3',                                     
        # DB name or full path to database file if using sqlite3.                   
        'NAME': "%s/toaster.sqlite" % TOASTER_SQLITE_DEFAULT_DIR,                   
        'USER': '',                                                                 
        'PASSWORD': '',                                                             
        #'HOST': '', # e.g. mysql server                                   
        #'PORT': '3306', # e.g. mysql port                                          

By default, Toaster will create a toaster.sqlite database on the configured TOASTER_DIR path. For production servers, MySQL is the recommended backend.

Django has a built in object-relational mapper, Django ORM, which automates the transfer of data from the relational database to Python objects and allows database accesses in Python code. The initial state of the database is created from a set of fixtures (data dumps) under /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/lib/toaster/orm/fixtures. Toaster fixtures are in XML format:

  • settings.xml: This contains Toaster and BitBake variable settings. Some of these can be changed through the Toaster administrative interface.
  • poky.xml and oe-core.xml: These are defaults for both the Poky and OE-core builds.
  • custom.xml: This allows you to override data on any of the preceding fixtures with a custom configuration. XML, JSON, and YAML formats are all supported.

When Toaster is launched, these Django fixtures are used to populate its database with initial data.

Toaster has extended the Django manage.py command with some custom Toaster-specific options. The manage.py management script needs to be invoked from the build directory, which contains the Toaster database:

$ cd /opt/yocto/poky/build$ /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/lib/toaster/manage.py <command> [<command option>]

The commands can be the following:

From /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/lib/toaster/toastermain/managements/commands/:

  • buildlist: This returns the current build list including their build IDs
  • buildelete <build_id>: This deletes all build dates for the build specified by its build ID
  • checksocket: This verifies that Toaster can bind to the provided IP address and port
  • perf: This is a sanity check that measures performance by returning page loading times

From /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/lib/toaster/orm/managements/commands/:

  • lsupdates: This updates the local layer index cache

From /opt/yocto/poky/bitbake/lib/toaster/bldcontrol/managements/commands/:

  • checksettings: This verifies that the existing Toaster database settings are enough to start a build
  • runbuilds: This launches scheduled builds

There's more...

Toaster enables you to set up a build server on a shared hosted/cloud environment that allows you to:

  • Use it with multiple users
  • Distribute it across several build hosts
  • Handle heavy loads

Typically, when setting up Toaster on a shared hosted environment, the Apache web server and MySQL as a database backend are used.

Installation instructions for this type of production server can be found in the Yocto Project's Toaster User Manual. The installation can be spread across different hosts for load sharing.


Running a Toaster Docker container

Docker is a software technology that provides operating system level virtualization. Functionality-wise it can be compared with a virtual machine, except that it suffers less of a performance penalty. On Linux it uses the resource isolation features of the Linux kernel to provide abstraction and process isolation. It allows you to create containers that run on Docker and are independent of the operating system underneath.

There are Docker instances of the Toaster user interface available, which will be introduced in this recipe.

How to do it...

  1. To install Docker on your Ubuntu 16.04 machine, add the GPG key for the official Docker repository to the system:
$ curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo apt-key add -
  1. Then add the Docker repository to APT sources:
$ sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu $(lsb_release -cs) stable"
  1. Next, update the package database with the Docker packages from the newly added repository:
$ sudo apt-get update$ sudo apt-get install docker-ce
  1. Add your user to the docker group:
$ sudo usermod -aG docker ${USER}$ su - ${USER}
  1. Finally, test run Docker by running the hello-world container:
$ docker run hello-world
  1. To run a docker-toaster instance, we will first create a directory in our host machine for the docker container to store the builds:
$ mkdir /opt/yocto/docker-toaster
  1. We can then instruct Docker to run the crops/toaster container and point its /workdir directory to the local directory we just created:
$ docker run -it --rm -p -v /opt/yocto/docker-toaster:/workdir crops/toaster


If you see the following error:Refusing to use a gid of 0Traceback (most recent call last):  File "/usr/bin/usersetup.py", line 62, in <module>    subprocess.check_call(cmd.split(), stdout=sys.stdout, stderr=sys.stderr)  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/subprocess.py", line 541, in check_call    raise CalledProcessError(retcode, cmd)subprocess.CalledProcessError: Command '['sudo', 'restrict_groupadd.sh', '0', 'toasteruser']' returned non-zero exit status 1 Make sure the /opt/yocto/docker-toaster directory was created before running Docker and is not owned by root. If you don't create it beforehand, Docker will do it with the root user and the setup will fail as above. See https://github.com/crops/poky-container/issues/20.


Note that you can replace the above with an IP address that is externally accessible if you are running Docker on a different machine.

  1. You can now detach from the docker container with Ctrl + P Ctrl + Q. Check the container is still running with:
$ docker ps
  1. You can now access the Toaster web interface at
  2. The docker container can be stopped with the following command:
$ docker stop <container-id>

See also


Configuring network booting for a development setup

Most professional i.MX6 boards will have an internal flash memory, and that would be the recommended way to boot firmware. The Wandboard is not really a product meant for professional use, so it does not have one, booting from a microSD card instead. But neither the internal flash nor the microSD card are ideal for development work, as any system change would involve a reprogramming of the firmware image.

Getting ready

The ideal setup for development work is to use both Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) and Network File System (NFS) servers in your host system and to only store the U-Boot bootloader in either the internal flash or a microSD card. With this setup, the bootloader will fetch the Linux kernel from the TFTP server and the kernel will mount the root filesystem from the NFS server. Changes to either the kernel or the root filesystem are available without the need to reprogram. Only bootloader development work would need you to reprogram the physical media.

Installing a TFTP server

If you are not already running a TFTP server, follow the next steps to install and configure a TFTP server on your Ubuntu 16.04 host:

$ sudo apt-get install tftpd-hpa

The tftpd-hpa configuration file is installed in /etc/default/tftpd-hpa. By default, it uses /var/lib/tftpboot as the root TFTP folder. Change the folder permissions to make it accessible to all users using the following command:

$ sudo chmod 1777 /var/lib/tftpboot

Now copy the Linux kernel and device tree for the Wandboard Quad Plus from your build directory as follows:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/tmp/deploy/images/wandboard/$ cp zImage-wandboard.bin zImage-imx6qp-wandboard-revd1.dtb /var/lib/tftpboot


If you have a different hardware variant or revision of the Wandboard, you will need to use a different device tree, as shown next. The corresponding device trees for the Wandboard Quad are:

  • revision b1: zImage-imx6q-wandboard-revb1.dtb
  • revision c1: zImage-imx6q-wandboard.dtb
  • revision d1: zImage-imx6q-wandboard-revd1.dtb

The corresponding device trees for the Wandboard solo/dual lite are:

  • revision b1: zImage-imx6dl-wandboard-revb1.dtb
  • revision c1: zImage-imx6dl-wandboard.dtb
  • revision d1: zImage-imx6dl-wandboard-revd1.dtb

And the device tree for the Wandboard Quad Plus is:

  • revision d1: zImage-imx6qp-wandboard-revd1.dtb

Installing an NFS server

If you are not already running an NFS server, follow the next steps to install and configure one on your Ubuntu 16.04 host:

$ sudo apt-get install nfs-kernel-server

We will use the /nfsroot directory as the root for the NFS server, so we will untar the target's root filesystem from our Yocto build directory in there.

By default, the Wandboard only builds WIC images. We will need to modify our build project to build a compressed copy of the target's root filesystem. For that, follow the next steps:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard

Edit conf/local.conf and add the following:

IMAGE_FSTYPES = "wic.gz tar.bz2"  

This will build a core-image-minimal-wandboard.tar.bz2 file that we can then uncompress under /nfsroot, as follows:

$ sudo mkdir /nfsroot$ cd /nfsroot$ sudo tar --numeric-owner -x -v -f /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/tmp/deploy/images/wandboard/core-image-minimal-wandboard.tar.bz2

The extraction of the root filesystem can also be done without superuser permissions by using the runqemu-extract-sdk script, which uses pseudo to correctly extract and set the permissions of the root filesystem, as follows:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard$ bitbake meta-ide-support$ runqemu-extract-sdk tmp/deploy/images/wandboard/core-image-minimal-wandboard.tar.bz2 /nfsroot/rootfs/


For this to work, the destination nfsroot directory needs to be writable by the current user.

Next, we will configure the NFS server to export the /nfsroot folder.

Add the following line to /etc/exports:

/nfsroot/ *(rw,no_root_squash,async,no_subtree_check)  

We will then restart the NFS server for the configuration changes to take effect:

$ sudo service nfs-kernel-server restart

How to do it...

We now have the boot binaries and root filesystem ready for network booting, and we need to configure U-Boot to perform the network boot.

Boot the Wandboard and stop at the U-Boot prompt by pressing any key on the serial console. Make sure it has an Ethernet cable plugged in and connected to your local network. You should see the U-Boot banner and prompt as follows:

U-Boot banner

The Yocto 2.4 version of U-Boot for the Wandboard has introduced changes in the default environment so that there is less platform-specific customization made in the source. As such, previous versions used to have a default environment ready to perform a network boot just by setting a few environmental variables and running the netboot script.

The current U-Boot has instead replaced it with a network boot mechanism that looks for a U-Boot script called extlinux.conf on the configured TFTP server and executes it. In that way, platform-specific booting options are isolated into the boot script which is compiled with the U-Boot source.

The Yocto Project prepares an extlinux.conf boot script and copies it to the deploy directory along with the images. We can add kernel command line arguments to pass to the Linux kernel in this boot script by using the UBOOT_EXTLINUX_KERNEL_ARGS configuration variable. More details about customizing the extlinux.conf script is provided in Chapter 2, The BSP Layer.

However, for development purposes, it is more flexible to restore the previous network boot environment variables:

> env set netload 'tftpboot ${loadaddr} ${image};tftpboot ${fdt_addr} ${fdt_file}'> env set netargs 'setenv bootargs console=${console} ${optargs} root=/dev/nfs ip=${ipaddr} nfsroot=${serverip}:${nfsroot},v3,tcp'> env set netboot 'echo Booting from net ...;run netargs;run netload;bootz ${loadaddr} - ${fdt_addr}'

The netload script loads the Linux kernel binary and the device tree blob into memory. The netargs script prepares the bootargs environmental variable to pass the correct kernel command line parameters for a network boot, and the netboot command executes the network boot by running netargs and using the bootz command.

Now we will prepare the rest of the environmental variables it needs:

  1. Configure a static IP address with:
> env set ipaddr <static_ip>
  1. Configure the IP address of your host system, where the TFTP and NFS servers have been set up:
> env set serverip <host_ip>
  1. Configure the root filesystem mount:
> env set nfsroot /nfsroot
  1. Configure the Linux kernel and device tree filenames:
> env set image zImage-wandboard.bin> env set fdt_file zImage-imx6qp-wandboard-revd1.dtb
  1. Save the U-Boot environment to the microSD card:
> env save
  1. Perform a network boot:
> run netboot

The Linux kernel and device tree will be fetched from the TFTP server, and the root filesystem will be mounted by the kernel from the NFS share.

You should be able to log in with the root user without a password prompt.

Once booted, we can find out the kernel command line arguments used to boot by doing:

$ cat /proc/cmdlineconsole=ttymxc0,115200 root=/dev/nfs ip= nfsroot=,v3,tcp

Using Docker as a Yocto build system container

Embedded systems often have a long product lifetime so software needs to be built with the same Yocto version over several years in a predictable way. Older versions of Yocto often have problems in running with state-of-the-art distributions.

To work around this, there are several alternatives:

  • Keep a build machine with a fixed operating system. This is problematic as the machine also ages and it may suffer from hardware problems and need re-installation.
  • Use a cloud machine with a fixed operating system. Not everyone has this type of infrastructure available and it usually has a price tag attached.
  • Build in a virtual machine such as VMware or VirtualBox. This affects the build performance significantly.
  • Use a Docker Yocto builder container. This has the advantage of providing the same isolation as the virtual machine but with a much better build performance.

We saw how to run a docker container in the Using the Toaster web interface recipe. Now we will see how to create our own Docker image to use as a Yocto builder.

Getting ready

Docker is able to build images automatically by reading instructions from a text file called a Dockerfile. Dockerfiles can be layered on top of each other, so to create a Docker Yocto builder image we would start by using a Ubuntu 16.04 Docker image or one of the other supported distributions, and sequentially configure the image.

An example Dockerfile for a Yocto builder follows:

FROM ubuntu:16.04                                                                
MAINTAINER Alex Gonzalez <[email protected]>                               
# Upgrade system and Yocto Proyect basic dependencies                            
RUN apt-get update && apt-get -y upgrade && apt-get -y install gawk wget git-core diffstat unzip texinfo gcc-multilib build-essential chrpath socat cpio python python3 python3-pip python3-pexpect xz-utils debianutils iputils-ping libsdl1.2-dev xterm curl 
# Set up locales                                                                 
RUN apt-get -y install locales apt-utils sudo && dpkg-reconfigure locales && locale-gen en_US.UTF-8 && update-locale LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8 LANG=en_US.UTF-8 
ENV LANG en_US.utf8                                                              
# Clean up APT when done.                                                        
RUN apt-get clean && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* /tmp/* /var/tmp/*               
# Replace dash with bash                                                         
RUN rm /bin/sh && ln -s bash /bin/sh                                        
# User management                                                                
RUN groupadd -g 1000 build && useradd -u 1000 -g 1000 -ms /bin/bash build && usermod -a -G sudo build && usermod -a -G users build 
# Install repo                                                                   
RUN curl -o /usr/local/bin/repo https://storage.googleapis.com/git-repo-downloads/repo && chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/repo 
# Run as build user from the installation path                                   
ENV YOCTO_INSTALL_PATH "/opt/yocto"                                              
RUN install -o 1000 -g 1000 -d $YOCTO_INSTALL_PATH                               
USER build                                                                       
WORKDIR ${YOCTO_INSTALL_PATH}                                                    
# Set the Yocto release                                                          
ENV YOCTO_RELEASE "rocko"                                                         
# Install Poky                                                                   
RUN git clone --branch ${YOCTO_RELEASE} git://git.yoctoproject.org/poky          
# Install FSL community BSP                                                      
RUN mkdir -p ${YOCTO_INSTALL_PATH}/fsl-community-bsp && cd ${YOCTO_INSTALL_PATH}/fsl-community-bsp && repo init -u https://github.com/Freescale/fsl-community-bsp-platform -b ${YOCTO_RELEASE} && repo sync 
# Create a build directory for the FSL community BSP                             
RUN mkdir -p ${YOCTO_INSTALL_PATH}/fsl-community-bsp/build                       
# Make /home/build the working directory                                         
WORKDIR /home/build 

How to do it...

  1. To build the container locally from the directory containing the Dockerfile, run the following command:
$ docker build
  1. However, there is no need to build it locally as the container is automatically built on the Docker registry: https://hub.docker.com/r/yoctocookbook2ndedition/docker-yocto-builder

First create an empty folder owned by a user with the same uid and gid that the build user inside the container:

$ sudo install -o 1000 -g 1000 -d /opt/yocto/docker-yocto-builder

And change inside the new directory:

$ cd /opt/yocto/docker-yocto-builder

To run the container and map its /home/build folder to the current directory, type:

$ docker run -it --rm -v $PWD:/home/build yoctocookbook2ndedition/docker-yocto-builder


    • -it instructs Docker to keep stdin open even when the container is not attached and assign a pseudo-tty to the interactive shell
    • --rm instructs Docker to remove the container on exit
    • -v maps the host current directory as the /home/build container volume
  1. We can now instruct the container to build a Poky project with:
[email protected]$ source /opt/yocto/poky/oe-init-build-env qemuarm[email protected]$ MACHINE=qemuarm bitbake core-image-minimal
  1. To build a FSL community BSP project, you need to map the /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/build container directory with the current directory as the setup-environment script only works when the build directory is under the installation folder:
$ docker run -it --rm -v $PWD:/opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/build yoctocookbook2ndedition/docker-yocto-builder
  1. Then we can run the following command inside the container to create a new project and start a build:
[email protected]$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/[email protected]$ mkdir -p wandboard[email protected]$ MACHINE=wandboard DISTRO=poky source setup-environment build[email protected]$ bitbake core-image-minimal

How it works...

Instructing Docker to start the image creation process with a Ubuntu 16.04 image is as easy as starting the Dockerfile with the following:

FROM ubuntu:16.04

To inherit a Docker image, you use the Dockerfile FROM syntax.

Other commands used in the Dockerfile are:

  • RUN, which will run the specified command in a new layer and commit the result
  • ENV, to set an environmental variable
  • USER, which sets the username to use for RUN and CMD instructions following it
  • WORKDIR, which sets the working directory for RUN and CMD instructions that follow it
  • CMD, which provides the default executable for the container, in this case the Bash shell

The rest of the Dockerfile does the following:

  • Updates Ubuntu 16.04 to the latest packages
  • Installs Yocto dependencies
  • Sets up the locale for the container
  • Adds a new build user
  • Installs both Poky and the FSL community BSP release

The image has Poky installed at /opt/yocto/poky and the FSL community BSP installed at /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp. When it starts, the default directory is/home/build.

The usual way to work with a docker container is to instruct it to run commands but store the output in the host filesystem.

In our case, we instruct the container to run BitBake for us, but we map the build directories to the host by doing the external volume mapping when the container is initialized. In that way, all the build output is stored on the host machine.

See also


Sharing downloads

You will usually work on several projects simultaneously, probably for different hardware platforms or different target images. In such cases, it is important to optimize the build times by sharing downloads.

Getting ready

The build system runs a search for downloaded sources in a number of places:

Source download hierarchy

  • It tries the local downloads folder.
  • It looks into the configured pre-mirrors, which are usually local to your organization.
  • It then tries to fetch from the upstream source as configured in the package recipe.
  • Finally, it checks the configured mirrors. Mirrors are public alternate locations for the source.

If a package source is not found in any of these four sources, the package build will fail with an error. Build warnings are also issued when upstream fetching fails and mirrors are tried, so that the upstream problem can be looked at.

The Yocto Project, including BSP layers such as meta-freescale, maintains a set of mirrors to isolate the build system from problems with the upstream servers. However, when adding external layers, you could be adding support for packages that are not in the Yocto Project's mirror servers, or other configured mirrors, so it is recommended that you keep a local pre-mirror to avoid problems with source availability.

The default Poky setting for a new project is to store the downloaded package sources on the current build directory. This is the first place the build system will run a search for source downloads. This setting can be configured in your project's conf/local.conf file with the DL_DIR configuration variable.

How to do it...

To optimize the build time, it is recommended to keep a shared downloads directory between all your projects. The setup-environment script of the meta-freescale layer changes the default DL_DIR to the fsl-community-bsp directory created by the repo tool. With this setup, the downloads folder will already be shared between all the projects in your host system. It is configured as:

DL_DIR ?= "${BSPDIR}/downloads/"  

A more scalable setup (for instance, for teams that are remotely distributed) is to configure a pre-mirror. For example, add the following to your conf/local.conf file:

INHERIT += "own-mirrors"
SOURCE_MIRROR_URL = "http://example.com/my-source-mirror"  

A usual setup is to have a build server serve its downloads directory. The build server can be configured to prepare tarballs of the Git directories to avoid having to perform Git operations from upstream servers. This setting in your conf/local.conf file will affect the build performance, but this is usually acceptable in a build server. Add the following:


An advantage of this setup is that the build server's downloads folder can also be backed up to guarantee source availability for your products in the future. This is especially important in embedded products with long-term availability requirements.

In order to test this setup, you may check to see whether a build is possible just by using the pre-mirrors with the following:


This setting in your conf/local.conf file can also be distributed across the team with the TEMPLATECONF variable during the project's creation.


Sharing the shared state cache

The Yocto Project builds everything from source. When you create a new project, only the configuration files are created. The build process then compiles everything from scratch, including the cross-compilation toolchain and some native tools important for the build.

This process can take a long time, and the Yocto Project implements a shared state cache mechanism that is used for incremental builds with the aim to build only the strictly necessary components for a given change.

For this to work, the build system calculates a checksum of the given input data to a task. If the input data changes, the task needs to be rebuilt. In simplistic terms, the build process generates a run script for each task that can be checksummed and compared. It also keeps track of a task's output, so that it can be reused.

A package recipe can modify the shared state caching to a task, for example, to always force a rebuild by marking it as nostamp. A more in-depth explanation of the shared state cache mechanism can be found in the Yocto Project Reference Manual at http://www.yoctoproject.org/docs/2.4/ref-manual/ref-manual.html.

How to do it...

By default, the build system will use a shared state cache directory called sstate-cache on your build directory to store the cached data. This can be changed with the SSTATE_DIR configuration variable in your conf/local.conf file. The cached data is stored in directories named with the first two characters of the hash. Inside, the filenames contain the whole task checksum, so the cache validity can be ascertained just by looking at the filename. The build process set scene tasks will evaluate the cached data and use it to accelerate the build if valid.

When you want to start a build from a clean state, you need to remove both the sstate-cache directory and the tmp directory.

You can also instruct BitBake to ignore the shared state cache by using the --no-setscene argument when running it.

It's a good practice to keep backups of clean shared state caches (for example, from a build server), which can be used in case of shared state cache corruption.

There's more...

Sharing a shared state cache is possible; however, it needs to be approached with care. Not all changes are detected by the shared state cache implementation, and when this happens, some or all of the cache needs to be invalidated. This can cause problems when the state cache is being shared.

The recommendation in this case depends on the use case. Developers working on Yocto metadata should keep the shared state cache as default, separated per project.

However, validation and testing engineers, kernel and bootloader developers, and application developers would probably benefit from a well-maintained shared state cache.

To configure an NFS share drive to be shared among the development team to speed up the builds, you can add the following to your conf/local.conf configuration file:

     file://.* file:///nfs/local/mount/sstate/PATH"

To configure shared state cache sharing via HTTP, add the following to your conf/local.conf configuration file:

SSTATE_MIRRORS ?= "file://.* http://example.com/some_path/sstate-cache/PATH"

The expression PATH in these examples will get substituted by the build system with a directory named with the hash's first two characters.


Setting up a package feed

An embedded system project seldom has the need to introduce changes to the Yocto build system. Most of the time and effort is spent in application development, followed by a lesser amount in system development, maybe kernel and bootloader work.

As such, a whole system rebuild is probably done very few times. A new project is usually built from a prebuilt shared state cache, and application development work only needs to be done to perform full or incremental builds of a handful of packages.

Once the packages are built, they need to be installed on the target system for testing. Emulated machines are fine for application development, but most hardware-dependent work needs to be done on embedded hardware.

Getting ready

An option is to manually copy the build binaries to the target's root filesystem, either copying it to the NFS share on the host system the target is mounting its root filesystem from (as explained in the Configuring network booting for a development setup recipe earlier) or using any other method such as SCP, FTP, or even a microSD card.

This method is also used by IDEs such as Eclipse when debugging an application you are working on, and by the devtool Yocto command-line tool which will be introduced later on. However, this method does not scale well when you need to install several packages and dependencies.

The next option would be to copy the packaged binaries (that is, the RPM, DEB, or IPK packages) to the target's filesystem and then use the target's package management system to install them. For this to work, your target's filesystem needs to be built with package management tools. Doing this is as easy as adding the package-management feature to your root filesystem; for example, you may add the following line to your project's conf/local.conf file:

EXTRA_IMAGE_FEATURES += "package-management"

The default package type in Yocto is RPM, and for an RPM package, you will copy it to the target and use the rpm or dnf utilities to install it. In Yocto 2.4, the default RPM package manager is Dandified Yum (DNF). It is the next generation version of the Yellodog Updater Modified (YUM) and licensed under the General Public License v2.

However, the most convenient way to do this is to convert your host system package's output directory into a package feed. For example, if you are using the default RPM package format, you may convert tmp/deploy/rpm in your build directory into a package feed that your target can use to update.

For this to work, you need to configure an HTTP server on your computer that serves the packages.

Versioning packages

You also need to make sure that the generated packages are correctly versioned, and that means updating the recipe revision, PR, with every change. It is possible to do this manually, but the recommended and compulsory way if you want to use package feeds is to use a PR server.

However, the PR server is not enabled by default. The packages generated without a PR server are consistent with each other but offer no update guarantees for a system that is already running.

The simplest PR server configuration is to run it locally on your host system. To do this, you add the following to your conf/local.conf file:

PRSERV_HOST = "localhost:0" 

With this setup, update coherency is guaranteed for your feed.

If you want to share your feed with other developers, or you are configuring a build server or package server, you would run a single instance of the PR server by running the following command:

$ bitbake-prserv --host <server_ip> --port <port> --start

And you will update the project's build configuration to use the centralized PR server, editing conf/local.conf as follows:

PRSERV_HOST = "<server_ip>:<port>"  

Also, if you are using a shared state cache as described before, all of the contributors to the shared state cache need to use the same PR server.

Once the feed's integrity is guaranteed, we need to configure an HTTP server to serve the feed.

How to do it...

We will use lighttpd for this example, as it is lightweight and easy to configure. Follow these steps:

  1. Install the web server:
$ sudo apt-get install lighttpd
  1. By default, the document root specified in the /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf configuration file is /var/www/html, so we only need a symlink to our package feed:
$ sudo ln -s /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/tmp/deploy/rpm /var/www/html/rpm
  1. Next, reload the configuration as follows:
$ sudo service lighttpd reload


For development, you can also launch a Python HTTP server from the feeds directory as follows:$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/tmp/deploy/rpm$ sudo python -m SimpleHTTPServer 80

  1. Refresh the package index. This needs to be done manually to update the package feed after every build:
$ bitbake package-index
  1. If you want to serve the packages from a different directory instead of directly from your build directory:
    1. You will need to copy the packages:
$ rsync -r -u /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/tmp/deploy/rpm/* <new_dir>/
    1. Then add the corresponding metadata to the repositories. For that, you will need to install the createrepo tool:
$ sudo apt-get install createrepo
    1. And direct it to the new feed directory:
$ createrepo <new_dir>

The createrepo tool will create XML-based metadata from the RPM packages:


You can also build and use the createrepo-c utility from your Yocto build system, a C implementation of createrepo, as follows:$ bitbake createrepo-c-native -c addto_recipe_sysroot$ oe-run-native createrepo-c-native createrepo_c <new_dir>

Then we need to configure our target filesystem with the new package feeds:

  1. Log in to the target and create a new directory to contain the repository configuration:
$ mkdir -p /etc/yum.repos.d

The repository configuration files will have the following format:

[<repo name>]
name=<Repository description>
enabled=<0 (disable) or 1 (enabled)>
gpgcheck=<0 (disable signature check) or 1 (enabled)>
gpgkey=<url://path/to/gpg-file if gpgcheck is enabled>  

The previously mentioned baseurl is the complete URL for the repositories, with a http://, https://, ftp://, or file:// prefix.

An example repository configuration file is as follows:

$ vi /etc/yum.repos.d/yocto.repo[yocto-rpm]                                                       name=Yocto 2.4: rpm                                                 baseurl=http://<server-ip>/rpm/                                                                                                                                            
  1. Once the setup is ready, we will be able to query and update packages from the target's root filesystem with the following:
# dnf --nogpgcheck makecache# dnf --nogpgcheck search <package_name># dnf --nogpgcheck install <package_name>

By default, dnf is built to use sign package feeds so we need to either configure the preceding repository with:


Or use the --nogpgcheck command line argument as shown previously.

  1. To make this change persistent in the target's root filesystem, we can configure the package feeds at compilation time by using the PACKAGE_FEED_* variables in conf/local.conf, as follows:
PACKAGE_FEED_URIS = "http://<server_ip>/"

The package feed's base URL is composed as shown next:


By default, the package feed is prepared as a single repository so there is no need to use the PACKAGE_FEED_ARCHS variable.


The variables shown previously will configure the filesystem for any of the supported package formats.

There's more...

The Yocto build system can both generate signed packages and configure target images to use a signed package feed.

The build system will use the GNU privacy guard (GNUPG), an RFC 4880-compliant cryptographic software suite licensed under the GNU General Public License GPLv3.

Generating signed packages

To configure the project for RPM package signing, add the following to your conf/local.conf configuration file:

INHERIT += "sign_rpm"  

For IPK package signing, do the following instead:

INHERIT += "sign_ipk"  

You will then need to define the name of the GPG key to use for signing, and its passphrase:

RPM_GPG_NAME = "<key ID>"
RPM_GPG_PASSPHRASE = "<key passphrase>"  

Or for the IPK package format:

IPK_GPG_NAME = "<key ID>"
IPK_GPG_PASSPHRASE_FILE = "<path/to/passphrase/file>"  

See the Creating a GNUPG key pair next section in this same recipe to find the generated key ID.

The Yocto build system will locate the private GPG key in the host and use it to sign the generated packages.


The Yocto 2.4 release supports signing RPM and IPK packages, but not DEB packages.


Using signed package feeds

To enable your target image to use a signed package feed, you will need to add the following configuration to your conf/local.conf configuration file:

INHERIT += "sign_package_feed"
PACKAGE_FEED_GPG_NAME = "<key name>"
PACKAGE_FEED_GPG_PASSPHRASE_FILE = "<path/to/passphrase/file>" 

The <path/to/passphrase/file> shown previously is the absolute path to a text file containing the passphrase.

The dnf package manager will use the configured public key to verify the authenticity of the package feed.

Creating a GNUPG key pair

In the Setting up the host system recipe in this same chapter, you installed the gnupg package in your host machine; if you didn't, you can do so now with:

$ sudo apt-get install gnupg

To generate a key, type the following command:

$ gpg --gen-key

Follow the instructions, keeping the default values. You may need to generate random data with mouse movements and disk activity.

You can check your key with:

$ gpg --list-keys/home/alex/.gnupg/pubring.gpg-----------------------------pub   2048R/4EF0ECE0 2017-08-13uid                  Alex Gonzalez <[email protected]>sub   2048R/298446F3 2017-08-13

The GPG key ID in the previous example is 4EF0ECE0.

And export it with the following command:

$ gpg --output rpm-feed.gpg --export <id>

The ID may be the key ID or any part of the user ID, such as the email address. The exported public key may now be moved to its final destination, such as the package feed web server.

An example conf/local.conf configuration would be:

INHERIT += "sign_rpm"
RPM_GPG_PASSPHRASE = "<very-secure-password>"
INHERIT += "sign_package_feed"
PACKAGE_FEED_GPG_PASSPHRASE_FILE = "/opt/yocto/passphrase.txt"  


Remember to run the following after rebuilding the image so that the repository feed is signed:$ bitbake package-index If you are preparing a repository manually, you will have to sign it too.

Backing up your keys

You can move your key pair to a secure location with:

$ gpg --output rpm-feed.pub --armor --export <key id>$ gpg --output rpm-feed.sec --armor --export-secret-key <key id>

Copy them securely to a new location and import them with:

$ gpg --import  rpm-feed.pub$ gpg --allow-secret-key-import --import  rpm-feed.sec

See also


Using build history

When maintaining software for an embedded product, you need a way to know what has changed and how it is going to affect your product.

On a Yocto system, you may need to update a package revision (for instance, to fix a security vulnerability), and you need to make sure what the implications of this change are, for example, in terms of package dependencies and changes to the root filesystem.

Build history enables you to do just that, and we will explore it in this recipe.

How to do it...

To enable build history, add the following to your conf/local.conf file:

INHERIT += "buildhistory" 

The preceding configuration enables information gathering, including dependency graphs.

To enable the storage of build history in a local Git repository add the following line to the conf/local.conf configuration file as well:


The Git repository location can be set by the BUILDHISTORY_DIR variable, which by default is set to a buildhistory directory on your build directory.

By default, buildhistory tracks changes to packages, images, and SDKs. This is configurable using the BUILDHISTORY_FEATURES variable. For example, to track only image changes, add the following to your conf/local.conf:


It can also track specific files and copy them to the buildhistory directory. By default, this includes only /etc/passwd and /etc/groups, but it can be used to track any important files, such as security certificates. The files need to be added with the BUILDHISTORY_IMAGE_FILES variable in your conf/local.conf file, as follows:

BUILDHISTORY_IMAGE_FILES += "/path/to/file" 

Build history will slow down the build, increase the build size, and may also grow the Git directory to an unmanageable size. The recommendation is to enable it on a build server for software releases, or in specific cases, such as when updating production software.

How it works...

When enabled, it will keep a record of the changes to each package and image in the form of a Git repository in a way that can be explored and analyzed.


Note that build history will only record changes to the build. If your project is already built, you will have to modify something or remove the tmp folder in order for build history to be generated.

The build configuration and metadata revision, as printed by Bitbake, is stored in the build-id.txt file.

For a package, build history records the following information:

  • Package and recipe revision
  • Dependencies
  • Package size
  • Files

For an image, it records the following information:

  • Build configuration
  • Dependency graphs
  • A list of files that include ownership and permissions, as well as size and symlink information
  • A list of installed packages

And for an SDK, it records the following information:

  • SDK configuration
  • A list of both host and target files, including ownership and permissions, as well as size and symlinks information
  • Package-related information is only generated for the standard SDK, not for the extensible SDK. This includes:
    • Dependency graphs
    • A list of installed packages

For more details about using Yocto SDKs, please refer to the Preparing an SDK and Using the extensible SDK recipes in Chapter 4, Application Development.

Looking at build history

Inspecting the Git directory with build history can be done in several ways:

  • Using Git tools such as gitk or git log
  • Using the buildhistory-diff command-line tool, which displays the differences in a human-readable format
  • Using a Django-1.8-based web interface

To install the Django web interface on a development machine, you first need to install some host dependencies:

$ sudo apt-get install python3-django
$ sudo apt-get install python-django-registration


This will install Django 1.8 both for Python 2.7, and Python 3. The buildhistory-web interface will only currently work on Python 2.7 but the build history import script will need to run under Python 3 as that is what the Yocto 2.4 BitBake uses.

Now we can clone the web interface source and configure it:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/sources$ git clone git://git.yoctoproject.org/buildhistory-web$ cd buildhistory-web/

Edit the settings.py file to change the path to the database engine:

    DATABASES = {                                                                   
        'default': {                                                                
            'ENGINE': 'django.db.backends.sqlite3',
            'NAME': '/opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/sources/buildhistory-web/bhtest.db3',
            'USER': '',
            'PASSWORD': '',
            'HOST': '',
            'PORT': '',

You then need to set up the Django application with:

$ python manage.py migrate

Next, import buildhistory as follows:

$ python3 warningmgr/import.py  /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/sources/poky/ /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/buildhistory/

The preceding command will need to be executed each time there is a new build.

And finally, start the web server on the localhost with:

$ python manage.py runserver


To bind it to a different IP address and port you can do:$ python manage.py runserver <host>:<port> But you will need to configure your settings.py accordingly with:ALLOWED_HOSTS = [u'<host>']

The following image shows the Buildhistory web interface home page:

Buildhistory web interface

There's more...

To maintain build history, it's important to optimize it and prevent it from growing over time. Periodic backups of build history and clean-ups of older data are important to keep the build history repository at a manageable size.

Once the buildhistory directory has been backed up, the following process will trim it and keep only the most recent history:

  1. Copy your repository to a temporary RAM filesystem (tmpfs) to speed things up. Check the output of the df -h command to see which directories are tmpfs filesystems and how much space they have available, and use one. For example, in Ubuntu 16.04, the /run/ directory is available.
  1. Copy build history to the /run directory as follows:
$ sudo mkdir /run/workspace$ sudo chown ${USER} /run/workspace/$ cp -r /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/buildhistory/ /run/workspace/$ cd /run/workspace/buildhistory/
  1. Add a graft point for a commit 1 month ago with no parents:
$ git rev-parse "[email protected]{1 month ago}" > .git/info/grafts
  1. Make the graft point permanent:
$ git filter-branch
  1. Clone a new repository to clean up the remaining Git objects:
$ git clone file://${tmpfs}/buildhistory buildhistory.new
  1. Replace the old buildhistory directory with the new cleaned one:
$ rm -rf buildhistory$ mv buildhistory.new /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/buildhistory/
  1. And finally, remove the workspace:
$ rm -rf /run/workspace/

Working with build statistics

The build system can collect build information per task and image. The data may be used to identify areas of optimization of build times and bottlenecks, especially when new recipes are added to the system. This recipe will explain how the build statistics work.

How to do it...

To enable the collection of statistics, your project needs to inherit the buildstats class by adding it to USER_CLASSES in your conf/local.conf file. By default, the fsl-community-bsp build project is configured to enable them:

USER_CLASSES ?= "buildstats"  

You can configure the location of these statistics with the BUILDSTATS_BASE variable, and by default it is set to the buildstats folder in the tmp directory under the build directory (tmp/buildstats).

The buildstats folder contains a folder per image with the build stats under a timestamp folder. Under it will be a sub-directory per package in your built image, and a build_stats file that contains:

  • Host system information
  • Root filesystem location and size
  • Build time
  • Average CPU usage

How it works...

The accuracy of the data depends on the download directory, DL_DIR, and the shared state cache directory, SSTATE_DIR, existing on the same partition or volume, so you may need to configure them accordingly if you are planning to use the build data.

An example build-stats file looks like the following:

Host Info: Linux langabe 4.10.0-30-generic #34~16.04.1-Ubuntu SMP Wed Aug 2 02:13:56 UTC 2017 x86_64 x86_64 
Build Started: 1502529685.16                                                     
Uncompressed Rootfs size: 93M   /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/tmp/work/wandboard-poky-linux-gnueabi/core-image-minimal/1.0-r0/rootfs 
Elapsed time: 101.87 seconds                                                     
CPU usage: 47.8% 

Inside each package, we have a list of tasks; for example, for ncurses-6.0+20161126-r0, we have the following tasks:

  • do_compile
  • do_fetch
  • do_package
  • do_package_write_rpm
  • do_populate_lic
  • do_rm_work
  • do_configure
  • do_install
  • do_packagedata
  • do_package_qa
  • do_patch
  • do_prepare_recipe_sysroot
  • do_populate_sysroot
  • do_unpack

Each one of them contains the following:

  • Build time
  • CPU usage
  • Disk stats

The information is displayed as follows:

Event: TaskStarted                                                               
Started: 1502541082.15                                                           
ncurses-6.0+20161126-r0: do_compile                                              
Elapsed time: 35.37 seconds                                                      
utime: 31                                                                        
stime: 2                                                                         
cutime: 7790                                                                     
cstime: 1138                                                                     
IO rchar: 778886123                                                              
IO read_bytes: 3354624                                                           
IO wchar: 79063307                                                               
IO cancelled_write_bytes: 1507328                                                
IO syscr: 150688                                                                 
IO write_bytes: 26726400                                                         
IO syscw: 31565                                                                  
rusage ru_utime: 0.312                                                           
rusage ru_stime: 0.027999999999999997                                            
rusage ru_maxrss: 78268                                                          
rusage ru_minflt: 5050                                                           
rusage ru_majflt: 0                                                              
rusage ru_inblock: 0                                                             
rusage ru_oublock: 1184                                                          
rusage ru_nvcsw: 705                                                             
rusage ru_nivcsw: 126                                                            
Child rusage ru_utime: 77.908                                                    
Child rusage ru_stime: 11.388                                                    
Child rusage ru_maxrss: 76284                                                    
Child rusage ru_minflt: 2995484                                                  
Child rusage ru_majflt: 0                                                        
Child rusage ru_inblock: 6552                                                    
Child rusage ru_oublock: 51016                                                   
Child rusage ru_nvcsw: 18280                                                     
Child rusage ru_nivcsw: 29984                                                    
Status: PASSED                                                                   
Ended: 1502541117.52 

The CPU usage is given with data extracted from /proc/<pid>/stat and given in units of clock ticks:

  • utime is the amount of time the process has been scheduled in user mode
  • stime is the amount of time it has been scheduled in kernel mode
  • cutime is the time the process's children were scheduled in user mode
  • cstime is the time they were scheduled in kernel mode

And the following is also available from the resource usage information provided from getrusage(), representing the resource usage of the calling process, including all threads, as well as the children and their descendants:

  • ru_utime is the user CPU time used in seconds
  • ru_stime is the system CPU time used in seconds
  • ru_maxrss is the maximum resident set size in KB
  • ru_minflt is the number of page faults without I/O activity
  • ru_majflt is the number of page faults with required I/O activity
  • ru_inblock is the count of filesystem inputs
  • ru_oublock is the count of filesystem outputs
  • ru_nvcsw is the count of times a process yielded voluntarily
  • ru_nivcsw is the count of times a process was forced to yield

Finally, the disk access statistics are provided from /proc/<pid>/io as follows:

  • rchar is the number of bytes read from storage
  • wchar is the number of bytes written to disk
  • syscr is the estimated number of read I/O operations 
  • syscw is the estimated number of write I/O operations 
  • read_bytes is the number of bytes read from storage (estimate-accurate for block-backed filesystems)
  • write_bytes is the estimated number of bytes written to the storage layer 
  • cancelled_write_bytes is the number of bytes written that did not happen, by truncating page cache

There's more...

You can also obtain a graphical representation of the data using the pybootchartgui.py tool included in the Poky source. From your project's build folder, you can execute the following command to obtain a bootchart.png graphic in /tmp:

$ cd /optyocto/fsl-community-bsp/wandboard/$ /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/sources/poky/scripts/pybootchartgui/pybootchartgui.py 
   tmp/buildstats/ -o /tmp

An example graphic is shown next:

Graphical build statistics documentation

See also


Debugging the build system

In the last recipe of this chapter, we will explore the different methods available to debug problems with the build system and its metadata.

Getting ready

Let's first introduce some of the usual use cases for a debugging session.

Finding recipes

A good way to check whether a specific package is supported in your current layers is to search for it as follows:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp/sources$ find -name "*busybox*"

This will recursively search all layers for the BusyBox pattern. You can limit the search to recipes and append files by executing:

$ find -name "*busybox*.bb*"

Yocto includes a bitbake-layers command-line utility that can also be used to search for specific recipes on the configured layers, with the preferred version appearing first:

$ bitbake-layers show-recipes "<package_name>"

Here, <package_name> also supports wildcards.

For example:

$ bitbake-layers show-recipes gdb*=== Matching recipes: ===gdb:  meta                 7.12.1gdb-cross-arm:  meta                 7.12.1gdb-cross-canadian-arm:  meta                 7.12.1gdbm:  meta                 1.12


To use bitbake-layers, the environment script must have been sourced first.

Finally, the devtool command-line utility can also be used to search the dependency cache with a regular expression. It will search on recipe or package names but also description and install files, so it is better suited in the context of developing recipes metadata:


$ devtool search <regular expression>

To use devtool, the environment needs to be previously set up, and the shared state cache populated:

$ cd /opt/yocto/fsl-community-bsp$ source setup-environment wandboard$ bitbake <target-image>$ devtool search gdbLoaded 2323 entries from dependency cache.perl                  Perl scripting languageshared-mime-info      Shared MIME type database and specificationbash-completion       Programmable Completion for Bash 4glib-2.0              A general-purpose utility librarypython                The Python Programming Languagegdbm                  Key/value database library with extensible hashinggcc-runtime           Runtime libraries from GCC

Dumping BitBake's environment

When developing or debugging package or image recipes, it is very common to ask BitBake to list its environment both globally and for a specific target, be it a package or image.

To dump the global environment and grep for a variable of interest (for example, DISTRO_FEATURES), use the following command:

$ bitbake -e | grep -w DISTRO_FEATURES

Optionally, to locate the source directory for a specific package recipe such as BusyBox, use the following command:

$ bitbake -e busybox | grep ^S=

You could also execute the following command to locate the working directory for a package or image recipe:

$ bitbake -e <target> | grep ^WORKDIR=

Using the development shell

BitBake offers the devshell and devpyshell tasks to help developers. They are executed with the following commands:

$ bitbake -c devshell <target>


$ bitbake -c devpyshell <target>

They will unpack and patch the source, and open a new Terminal (they will autodetect your Terminal type or it can be set with OE_TERMINAL) in the target source directory, which has the environment correctly set up. They run with the nostamp flag so up-to-date tasks will be rerun.

The devpyshell command will additionally set up the Python environment including Python objects and code such as the datastore d object.


While in a graphical environment, devshell and devpyshell will open a new Terminal or console window, but if we are working on a non-graphical environment, such as Telnet or SSH, you may need to specify screen as your Terminal in your conf/local.conf configuration file as follows:OE_TERMINAL = "screen"

Inside the devshell, you can run development commands such as configure and make or invoke the cross-compiler directly (use the $CC environment variable, which has been set up already). You can also run BitBake tasks inside devshell by calling the ${WORKDIR}/temp/run* script directly. This has the same result as invoking BitBake externally to devshell for that task.

Inside the devpyshell Python interpreter, you can call functions, such as d.setVar() and d.getVar(), or any Python code, such as bb.build.exec_fun().

How to do it...

The starting point for debugging a package build error is the BitBake error message printed on the build process. This will usually point us to the task that failed to build.

  1. To list all the tasks available for a given recipe, with descriptions, we execute the following:
$ bitbake -c listtasks <target>
  1. If you need to recreate the error, you can force a build with the following:
$ bitbake -f <target>
  1. Or you can ask BitBake to force-run only a specific task using the following command:
$ bitbake -c compile -f <target>


Forcing a task to run will taint the task and BitBake will show a warning. This is meant to inform that the build has been modified. You can remove the warnings by cleaning the work directory with the -c clean argument.

Task log and run files

To debug the build errors, BitBake creates two types of useful files per shell task and stores them in a temp folder in the working directory. Taking BusyBox as an example, we would look into:


And find a list of log* and run* files. The filename format is:

log.do_<task>.<pid> and run.do_<task>.<pid>.

But luckily, we also have symbolic links without the <pid> part that link to the latest version.

The log files will contain the output of the task, and that is usually the only information we need to debug the problem. The run file contains the actual code executed by BitBake to generate the log mentioned before. This is only needed when debugging complex build issues.

Python tasks, on the other hand, do not currently write files as described previously, although it is planned to do so in the future. Python tasks execute internally and log information to the Terminal.


If using the rm_work class, the package name needs to be added to the RM_WORK_EXCLUDE variable for the task log and run files to be accessible.

Adding logging to recipes

BitBake recipes accept either Bash or Python code. Python logging is done through the bb class and uses the standard logging Python library module. It has the following components:

  • bb.plain: This uses logger.plain. It can be used for debugging, but should not be committed to the source.
  • bb.note: This uses logger.info.
  • bb.warn: This uses logger.warn.
  • bb.error: This uses logger.error.
  • bb.fatal: This uses logger.critical and exits BitBake.
  • bb.debug: This should be passed a log level as the first argument and uses logger.debug.

To print debug output from Bash in our recipes, we need to use the logging class by executing:

inherit logging  

The logging class is inherited by default by all recipes containing base.bbclass, so we don't usually have to inherit it explicitly. We will then have access to the following Bash functions:

  • bbplain: This function outputs literally what's passed in. It can be used in debugging but should not be committed to a recipe source.
  • bbnote: This function prints with the NOTE prefix.
  • bbwarn: This prints a non-fatal warning with the WARNING prefix.
  • bberror: This prints a non-fatal error with the ERROR prefix.
  • bbfatal: This function halts the build and prints an error message as with bberror.
  • bbdebug: This function prints debug messages with the log level passed as the first argument. It is used with the following format:
bbdebug [123] "message"


The Bash functions mentioned here do not log to the console but only to the log files.

Looking at dependencies

You can ask BitBake to print the current and provided versions of packages with the following command:

$ bitbake --show-versions

Another common debugging task is the removal of unwanted dependencies.

To see an overview of pulled-in dependencies, you can use BitBake's verbose output by running this:

$ bitbake -v <target>

To analyze what dependencies are pulled in by a package, we can ask BitBake to create DOT files that describe these dependencies by running the following command:

$ bitbake -g <target>

The DOT format is a text description language for graphics that is understood by the GraphViz open source package and all the utilities that use it. DOT files can be visualized or further processed.

You can omit dependencies from the graph to produce more readable output. For example, to omit dependencies from glibc, you would run the following command:

$ bitbake -g <target> -I glibc

Once the preceding commands have been run, we get the following files in the current directory:

  • pn-buildlist: This file shows the list of packages that would be built by the given target
  • recipes-depends.dot: This file shows the dependencies between recipes
  • task-depends.dot: This file shows the dependencies between tasks

To convert the .dot files to postscript files (.ps), you may execute:

$ dot -Tps filename.dot -o outfile.ps

However, the most useful way to display dependency data is to ask BitBake to display it graphically with the dependency explorer, as follows:

$ bitbake -g -u taskexp <target>

The result may be seen in the following screenshot:

Task dependency explorer

Debugging dependencies

On rare occasions, you may find yourself debugging a task dependency problem, for example, if BitBake misses a task dependency.

In the tmp/stamps sub-directory inside the build directory, you can find two file types that are helpful when debugging dependency problems:

  • sigdata, a Python database of all the metadata that is used to calculate the task's input checksum
  • siginfo, which is the same but for shared state cache accelerated recipes

You can use bitbake-dumpsig on both of these file types to dump the variable dependencies for the task, variable values, as well as a list of variables never included in any checksum.

When trying to compare two versions of a given task, bitbake-diffsig can be used to dump the differences between two sigdata or siginfo revisions.

Debugging BitBake

It is not common to have to debug BitBake itself, but you may find a bug in BitBake and want to explore it by yourself before reporting it to the BitBake community. For such cases, you can ask BitBake to output the debug information at three different levels with the -D flag. To display all the debug information, run the following command:

$ bitbake -DDD <target>

Error reporting tool

Sometimes, you will find a build error on a Yocto recipe that you have not modified. The first place to check for errors is the community itself, but before launching your mail client, head to http://errors.yoctoproject.org. The welcome page is displayed as follows:

Error reporting web interface

This is a central database of mostly autobuilder, but also user-reported, errors. Here, you may check whether someone else is experiencing the same problem.

You can submit your own build failure to the database to help the community debug the problem. To do so, you may use the report-error class. Add the following to your conf/local.conf file:

INHERIT += "report-error"  

By default, the error information is stored under tmp/log/error-report under the build directory, but you can set a specific location with the ERR_REPORT_DIR variable.

When the error reporting tool is activated, a build error will be captured in a file in the error-report folder. The build output will also print a command to send the error log to the server:

$ send-error-report ${LOG_DIR}/error-report/error-report_${TSTAMP}

When this command is executed, it will report back with a link to the upstream error.

You can set up a local error server, and use that instead by passing a server argument. The error server code is a Django web application and setting up details can be found at http://git.yoctoproject.org/cgit/cgit.cgi/error-report-web/tree/README.

About the Author

  • Alex González

    Alex González is a software engineering supervisor at Digi International and product owner of the Digi Embedded Yocto distribution. He started working professionally with embedded systems in 1999 and the Linux kernel in 2004, designing products for voice and video over IP networks, and followed his interests into machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies and the Internet of Things. Born and raised in Bilbao, Spain, Alex has an electronic engineering degree from the University of the Basque Country and he received his MSc in communication systems from the University of Portsmouth.

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Latest Reviews

(4 reviews total)
Seems to cover a lot of the day to day concerns of building embedded Linux images that are often overlooked.
This is one of the best book I have found on packt which helped me to dive into linux kernel compilation
Depending on your experience, you might have to wade through a lot of stuff that you've done before to pick up new things.

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