amd64

Building an ARM cross-toolchain with binutils, gcc, newlib, and gdb from source

Update: Please don't use this script, a fixed and updated version is now maintained in the summon-arm-toolchain git repo. Direct download: summon-arm-toolchain.

I've been planning to write about building custom ARM toolchains for a while (I used stuff from gnuarm.com in the past, but I switched to the lastest and greatest upstream versions at some point). Among other things, recent upstream versions now have ARM Cortex support.

First you will need a few base utilities and libs (this list may not be complete):

  $ apt-get install flex bison libgmp3-dev libmpfr-dev libncurses5-dev libmpc-dev autoconf texinfo build-essential

Then you can use my tiny build-arm-toolchain script, which will download, build, and install the whole toolchain:

  $ cat build-arm-toolchain
  #!/bin/sh
  # Written by Uwe Hermann <uwe@hermann-uwe.de>, released as public domain.
  [...]

Update: Please don't use this script, a fixed and updated version is now maintained in the summon-arm-toolchain git repo. Direct download: summon-arm-toolchain.

The final toolchain is located in /tmp/arm-cortex-toolchain per default, and is ca. 170 MB in size. I explicitly created the build script in such a way that it minimizes the amount of disk space used during the build (ca. 1.2 GB or so, compared to more than 3 GB in the "naive" approach).

Using the "-j 2" option for make (see script) you can speed up the build quite a bit on multi-core machines (ca. 30 minutes vs. 60 minutes on an AMD X2 dual-core box). Also, you can change the script to build for other target variants if you want to (arm-elf or arm-none-eabi, for example).

Checkout the blog entry How to build arm gnu gcc toolchain for Mac OS X by Piotr Esden-Tempski for similar instructions for Mac OS X users.

Oh, and while I'm at it — does anybody have any idea why there are no pre-built toolchains for embedded (microcontroller) ARM targets in Debian? There are some toolchains for other microcontroller architectures (avr, m68hc1x, h8300, z80) but not too much other stuff. Is there some specific reason for the missing ARM toolchains (other than "nobody cared enough yet")?

I have heard about Emdebian, but from a quick look that seems to be more intended for toolchains with Linux/libc, not for microcontroller firmware (i.e. no MMU, no Linux, no libc etc.), but maybe I'm wrong?

Update: Please don't use this script, a fixed and updated version is now maintained in the summon-arm-toolchain git repo. Direct download: summon-arm-toolchain.

Testing stuff with QEMU - Part 3: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD screenshot 1

Note: This article is part of my Testing stuff with QEMU series.

From the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port page:

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is a port that consists of GNU userland using the GNU C library on top of FreeBSD's kernel, coupled with the regular Debian package set.

Q: Why would anybody want to do that?
A: Why not? [1]

So, after we have talked about that, let's start:

  1. Install QEMU:
    apt-get install qemu
  2. Download the latest Debian GNU/kFreeBSD installer ISO image (either for i386 or amd64):
    wget http://glibc-bsd.alioth.debian.org/install-cd/kfreebsd-i386/20070313/debian-20070313-kfreebsd-i386-install.iso
  3. Create a QEMU image which will hold the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD (i386) installation:
    qemu-img create -f qcow2 qemu_kfreebsd_i386.img 5G
  4. Boot directly from the ISO image and install Debian into the QEMU image:
    qemu -boot d -cdrom debian-20070313-kfreebsd-i386-install.iso -hda qemu_kfreebsd_i386.img
  5. The FreeBSD installer will now start. For more detailed instructions see the Installing Debian GNU/kFreeBSD manual.
    First you can choose between an "Express" or "Custom" install (I used "Express").
  6. Next you end up in the partitioning tool. Type "a" to use the entire (QEMU) disk for the installation (the disk is called "ad0", not "hda" as on Linux). Type "q" to quit the partitioning tool.
  7. You are now asked which boot manager to use. For QEMU you should use "BootMgr", the default FreeBSD boot manager. If you install on real hardware you can also use GRUB; in that case choose "None" here (see the manual for more information), but note that the installer does not install or configure GRUB for you! You should do that beforehand!
  8. Next up: The disklabel editor. Here you'll create a partition ("slice" in FreeBSD-speak) for the root filesystem and a swap partition.
    Press "c" to create a new slice (will be called "ad0s1"), enter "4GB", choose "FS" (filesystem), and enter "/" for the root filesystem. Per default the UFS2 file system will be used. To create the swap partition, press "c" again, enter "1023MB", and select "swap". The new slice is called "ad0s1b". Press "q" to quit.
  9. Choose "minimal" when asked which distribution to install.
  10. Installation media dialog: select "CD/DVD" and "acd0" (for QEMU's ATAPI/IDE CD-ROM drive).
  11. The installation will now begin, and after a while you're asked to switch to console 3 using ALT-F3. Do it.
  12. You'll have to answer a bunch of questions: geographic area + city you're in (for timezone), whether you want to participate in the Debian popularity contest, whether module-init-tools should load additional drivers (no, so press ENTER three times). The installation will soon be finished.

At the end you must select "No" as you're told to do, then reboot via "Exit Install". You can then shutdown QEMU.

  1. Restart QEMU with the newly installed Debian GNU/kFreeBSD:
    qemu -hda qemu_kfreebsd_i386.img
    Debian GNU/kFreeBSD screenshot 2
  2. Press enter at the FreeBSD boot manager prompt, then login as root (there's no password).
  3. First things first: Set up a root password:
    passwd
  4. Now let's fix networking, update the system and install a bunch of packages:
    nano /etc/network/interfaces
    Yes, there's no vi, not even a symlink to nano! Uncomment the two "ed0" lines ("ed0" is the equivalent to "eth0" on Linux, I guess).
    /etc/init.d/networking restart
    apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade
    apt-get install vim xorg icewm xterm
  5. You can fix your console keymap using the kbdcontrol package (just select your keymap from the menu):
    apt-get install kbdcontrol
  6. Finally, let's fix X11 and start it. But first we create a new user, as we don't want to run X11 as root:
    adduser uwe
    vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf
    The mouse device is "/dev/psm0", the protocol "PS/2", and the graphics driver should be "vesa":

      Section "InputDevice"
          Option "Device" "/dev/psm0"
          Option "Protocol" "PS/2"
      [...]
      Section "Device"
          Driver "vesa"
        
  7. That's about it. Login as "uwe" (or whatever your username is) and start X11:
    startx

Wasn't all that hard, eh? Now, if you've got some spare time, head over to the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD wiki page and help improving this port ;-) You should probably start with reading the PORTING guide.

Both kfrebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64 seem to be reasonably stable already (and more than 70% of the whole Debian archive builds fine on these architectures, see kfreebsd-i386_stats and kfreebsd-amd64_stats). I'll quite likely install kfreebsd-amd64 on one of my boxes soonish and start using it, maybe I'll even find some time to fix/patch/port some packages...

[1] More elaborate answer(s) and reasons are available in the Debian wiki.

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