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RTEMS Source Builder

The RTEMS Source Builder or RSB is a tool to build packages from source. It is used by the RTEMS project to build it's compilers and OS. The RSB helps consolidate the details you need to build a package from source in a controlled and verifiable way. The tool is aimed at developers of software who use tool sets for embedded development. The RSB is not limited to building tools just for RTEMS, you can build bare metal development environments.

Embedded development typically uses cross-compiling tool chains, debuggers, and debugging aids. Together we call these a tool set. The RTEMS Source Builder is designed to fit this specific niche but is not limited to it. The RSB can be used outside of the RTEMS project and we welcome this.

The RTEMS Source Builder is typically used to build a set of tools or a build set. A build set is a collection of packages and a package is a specific tool, for example gcc or gdb, or library. The RTEMS Source Builder attempts to support any host environment that runs Python and you can build the package on. The RSB is not some sort of magic that can take any piece of source code and make it build. Someone at some point in time has figured out how to build that package from source and taught this tool.

The RTEMS Source Builder has been tested on:

  • ArchLinux
  • CentOS
  • Fedora
  • Raspbian
  • Ubuntu (includes XUbuntu)
  • Linux Mint
  • openSUSE
  • FreeBSD
  • NetBSD
  • MacOS
  • Windows

Setting up your Host

:ref:`Hosts` details setting up hosts.


The RTEMS Source Builder has two types of configuration data. The first is the build set. A build set describes a collection of packages that define a set of tools you would use when developing software for RTEMS. For example the basic GNU tool set is binutils, gcc, and gdb and is the typical base suite of tools you need for an embedded cross-development type project. The second type of configuration data is the configuration files and they define how a package is built. Configuration files are scripts loosely based on the RPM spec file format and they detail the steps needed to build a package. The steps are preparation, building, and installing. Scripts support macros, shell expansion, logic, includes plus many more features useful when build packages.

The RTEMS Source Builder does not interact with any host package management systems. There is no automatic dependence checking between various packages you build or packages and software your host system you may have installed. We assume the build sets and configuration files you are using have been created by developers who do. Support is provided for package config or pkgconfg type files so you can check and use standard libraries if present. If you have a problem please ask on our :r:list:`devel`.


This documentation caters for a range of users from new to experienced RTEMS developers. New users can follow the Quick Start section up to the "Installing and Tar Files" to get a working tools and RTEMS. Users building a binary tool set for release can read the "Installing and Tar Files". Users wanting to run and test bleeding edge tools or packages, or wanting update or extend the RSB's configuration can read the remaining sections.

Bug Reporting

If you think you have found a problem please see :ref:`Bugs, Crashes, and Build Failures`.


Why Build from Source?

The RTEMS Source Builder is not a replacement for the binary install systems you have with commercial operating systems or open source operating system distributions. Those products and distributions are critically important and are the base that allows the RSB to work. The RTEMS Source Builder sits somewhere between you manually entering the commands to build a tool set and a tool such as yum or apt-get to install binary packages made specifically for your host operating system. Building manually or installing a binary package from a remote repository are valid and real alternatives. The RSB provides the specific service of repeatably being able to build tool sets from source code. The process leaves you with the source code used to build the tools and the ability to rebuilt it.

If you are developing a system or product that has a long shelf life or is used in a critical piece of infrastructure that has a long life cycle being able to build from source is important. It insulates the project from the fast ever changing world of the host development machines. If your tool set is binary and you have lost the ability to build it you have lost a degree of control and flexibility open source gives you. Fast moving host environments are fantastic. We have powerful multi-core computers with huge amounts of memory and state of the art operating systems to run on them however the product or project you are part of may need to be maintained well past the life time of these host. Being able to build from source an important and critical part of this process because you can move to a newer host and create an equivalent tool set.

Building from source provides you with control over the configuration of the package you are building. If all or the most important dependent parts are built from source you limit the exposure to host variations. For example the GNU C compiler (gcc) currently uses a number of 3rd party libraries internally (gmp, mpfr, etc). If your validated compiler generating code for your target processor is dynamically linked against the host's version of these libraries any change in the host's configuration may effect you. The changes the host's package management system makes may be perfectly reasonable in relation to the distribution being managed however this may not extend to you and your tools. Building your tools from source and controlling the specific version of these dependent parts means you are not exposing yourself to unexpected and often difficult to resolve problems. On the other side you need to make sure your tools build and work with newer versions of the host operating system. Given the stability of standards based libraries like libc and ever improving support for standard header file locations this task is becoming easier.

The RTEMS Source Builder is designed to be audited and incorporated into a project's verification and validation process. If your project is developing critical applications that needs to be traced from source to executable code in the target, you need to also consider the tools and how to track them.

If your IT department maintains all your computers and you do not have suitable rights to install binary packages, building from source lets you create your own tool set that you install under your home directory. Avoiding installing any extra packages as a super user is always helpful in maintaining a secure computing environment.


The RTEMS Source Builder is a stand alone tool based on another tool called the SpecBuilder written by Chris Johns. The SpecBuilder was written around 2010 for the RTEMS project to provide Chris with a way to build tools on hosts that did not support RPMs. At the time the RTEMS tools maintainer only supported spec files and these files held all the vital configuration data needed to create suitable tool sets. Available SRPM and spec files by themselves where useless because a suitable rpm tool to use them was needed. At the time available versions of rpm for a number of non-RPM hosts were broken and randomly maintained. The solution Chris settled on was to use the spec files and write to a Python based tool that parsed the spec file format creating a shell script that could be run to build the package. The approach proved successful and Chris was able to track the RPM version of the RTEMS tools on a non-RPM host for a number of years.

The SpecBuilder tool did not build tools or packages unrelated to the RTEMS project where no suitable spec file was available so another tool was needed. Rather than start again Chris decided to take the parsing code for the spec file format and build a new tool called the RTEMS Source Builder.

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