Following on from the discussions on this list regarding alternatives to OE.


I know that many people find OE a useful platform, but I find that it just hides everything and it makes it almost impossible to figure out what it’s doing or what it has done.  It seems that someone with reasonable software skills should be able to build and modify a basic system without pulling out too much hair.  Maybe it’s because I’m still learning this stuff that I’m feeling frustrated.  The base pieces should be easy to build and put together without OE but there seems to be a lack of basic documentation to do so.


The build steps, as I see them, are:

1.       Install a cross compiler

2.       Build MLO

3.       Build u-boot

4.       Build the kernel

5.       Build kernel modules

6.       Build root file system

7.       Install them on the board


I’d like to make it easy for someone like myself to find the tools, source code and documentation to do the above.  And I’d like to see those tools, source code and documentation reside on the Gumstix website, or at least clearly pointed to from there.  So I’m enlisting the help of Gumstix and anyone on the list to help me achieve this goal, unfortunately I don’t have the knowledge to do all of this on my own.


Starting with the tool chain:  It seems a bit of a waste for oe to download source and build its own tool chain.  After googling around I’ve found that the emdebian site has a repository where you can get the tool chain with an apt-get.  This works fine for Debian and Ubuntu users.  It would be good though, if Gumstix made the tool chain available on their download site in a tarball, as well as document how to add the repositories for Debian users.  (I am happy to help with documentation).


MLO, u-boot, kernel, kernel modules and root file system:  I got an off-list email from Gumstix regarding a request I had made that they put a README file on their download site in each of the download directories.  The README file would contain info on which kernel version was there, etcetera.  Another request to Gumstix, could you please put the kernel modules with each kernel?  This would make it easier to build a root file system outside of oe without having to build the kernel  and its modules.  A sample fstab and inittab would be useful as well.


As far as building the kernel goes:  I’ve been trying to figure out where the patches are and what kernel they should be applied to, but my only source of reference is oe, and the command ‘bitbake virtual/kernel’ doesn’t provide a very good starting point.  So another request to Gumstix, could you please make the patches available for download as well as a patched kernel and a .config file?  And if you’re going to provide a link to another site for the patched kernel, then please check that your instructions are correct, at the moment they are not.  And also a bit of doco on how to apply the patches and do a build.


Which brings us to u-boot, which is a pre-requite to building the kernel.  I would appreciate it if someone could help me to get this to build.  When I’ve managed to build u-boot and the kernel then I will be happy to write a howto on the process.  But I’m struggling at the moment to do something that shouldn’t be that hard with the right documentation.


Root file system:  I’ve made and entry in the wiki on building a Debian root file system, this is my alternative to Angstrom and oe.  I hope that it is useful.


The basic build shouldn’t be that hard with a bit of documentation and organisation.  It probably seems pretty straight forward to those who know how, but coming from the outside it’s not that easy.