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Building Overo Systems with Yocto

25 Feb 2014

These instructions are for building generic developer systems for Gumstix Overo boards with a focus on C/C++ and Qt programmers. You will almost certainly want to modify the contents of the images for any particular project.

There is no X11 and no desktop installed on any of these systems. The embedded Qt images can be used to run GUI applications with the -qws switch.

The Linux 3.5 kernel comes from the Linux mainline with some patches from Gumstix. If you want to use the McBSP controller of the Overo with custom hardware, you will want to change your kernel version to 3.2. Otherwise, the default 3.5 kernel is probably what you want. The kernel version can be changed in the local.conf configuration file explained below.

The Yocto version is 1.5.1 the [dora] branch.

sysvinit is used for the init system, not systemd.

systemd-udev is the udev daemon. I have found it more reliable then the older udev particularly when loading binary firmware.

Ubuntu Packages

I'm using Ubuntu 13.10 and Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit workstations for the builds. I've used 32-bit versions of Ubuntu in VMs without problem, though the builds are much slower.

You'll need at least the following packages installed


You'll also want to change the default Ubuntu shell from dash to bash by running this command from a shell

dpkg-reconfigure dash

Choose no to dash when prompted.

Clone the dependency repositories

First the main Yocto project poky repository

scott@hex:~ git clone git://git.yoctoproject.org/poky.git poky-dora
scott@hex:~$ cd ~/poky-dora
scott@hex:~/poky-dora$ git checkout -b dora origin/dora

Then the supporting meta-openembedded repository

scott@hex:~/poky-dora$ git clone git://git.openembedded.org/meta-openembedded
scott@hex:~/poky-dora$ cd meta-openembedded
scott@hex:~/poky-dora/meta-openembedded$ git checkout -b dora origin/dora
scott@hex:~/poky-dora/meta-openembedded$ cd ..

I keep these repositories separated since they can be shared between projects and different boards.

Clone the meta-overo repository

Create a subdirectory for the meta-overo repository before cloning

scott@hex:~/poky-dora$ cd ..
scott@hex:~$ mkdir overo
scott@hex:~$ cd overo
scott@hex:~/overo$ git clone git://github.com/jumpnow/meta-overo
scott@hex:~/overo$ cd meta-overo
scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo$ git checkout -b dora origin/dora
scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo$ cd ..

The meta-overo/README.md file has the last commits from the dependency repositories that I tested. You can always checkout those commits explicitly if you run into problems.

Initialize the build directory

Much of the following are only the conventions that I use. All of the paths to the meta-layers are configurable.

First setup a build directory. I tend to do this on a per board and/or per project basis so I can quickly switch between projects. For this example I'll put the build directory under ~/overo/ with the meta-overo layer.

scott@hex:~$ cd ~/poky-dora
scott@hex:~/poky-dora$ source oe-init-build-env ~/overo/build

You always need this command to setup the environment before using bitbake. If you only have one build environment, you can put it in your ~/.bashrc. I work on more then one system so tend to always run it manually.

Customize the conf files

The oe-init-build-env script generated some generic configuration files in the build/conf directory. You want to replace those with the conf-samples in the meta-overo/conf directory.

scott@hex:~/overo/build$ cp ~/overo/meta-overo/conf/local.conf-sample \
scott@hex:~/overo/build$ cp ~/overo/meta-overo/conf/bblayers.conf-sample \

You generally only have to edit these files once.

Edit bblayers.conf

In bblayers.conf file replace ${HOME} with the appropriate path to the meta-layer repositories on your system if you modified any of the above instructions when cloning.

Edit local.conf

The variables you may want to customize are the following:


The defaults should work, but I always make some adjustment.


Set to the number of cores on your build machine.


Set to the number of cores on your build machine.


This is where temporary build files and the final build binaries will end up. Expect to use at least 35GB. You probably want at least 50GB available.

The default location if left commented will be ~/overo/build/tmp. If I'm not working in a VM, I usually put my TMPDIRs on dedicated partitions. Occasionally something will come up where you'll need to delete the entire TMPDIR. For those occasions the sequence unmount/mkfs/remount is much faster then deleting a 35+ GB directory.

If you specify an alternate location as I do in the example conf file make sure the directory is writable by the user running the build. Also because of some rpath issues with gcc, the TMPDIR path cannot be too short or the gcc build will fail. I haven't determined exactly how short is too short, but something like /oe7 is too short and /oe7/tmp-poky-dora-build is long enough.

If you use the default location, the TMPDIR path is already long enough.


This is where the downloaded source files will be stored. You can share this among configurations and build files so I created a general location for this outside my home directory. Make sure the build user has write permission to the directory you decide on.

The default directory will be ~/overo/build/sources.


This is another Yocto build directory that can get pretty big, greater then 5GB. I often put this somewhere else other then my home directory as well.

The default location is ~/overo/build/sstate-cache.


If you plan to write a custom driver for the McBSP controller, you'll need to drop back to the 3.2 kernel, the last that supported out-of-tree access to the platform mcbsp driver.

Uncomment this line

# PREFERRED_VERSION_linux-stable = "3.2"

Run the build

You need to source the environment every time you want to run a build. The oe-init-build-env when run a second time will not overwrite your customized conf files.

scott@hex:~$ cd ~/poky-dora
scott@hex:~$ source oe-init-build-env ~/overo/build

### Shell environment set up for builds. ###

You can now run 'bitbake '

Common targets are:

You can also run generated qemu images with a command like 'runqemu qemux86'

Those 'Common targets' may or may not build successfully. I have never tried them.

There are a few custom images available in the meta-overo layer. The recipes for these image can be found in meta-overo/images/



A basic console developer image. See the recipe for specifics, but some of the installed programs are

gcc/g++ and associated build tools
ssh/scp server and client
wireless support
kernel modules


This image includes the console-image and adds Qt 4.8.5 embedded with the associated development headers and qmake.

This image also includes the SyntroCore and SyntroLCam binaries as well as the headers and libraries for doing Syntro development on the board.

To build the console-image run the following command

scott@hex:~/overo/build$ bitbake console-image

You may run into build errors related to packages that failed to download or sometimes out of order builds. The easy solution is to clean the build for the failed package and rerun the build again.

For instance if the build for zip failed for some reason, I would run this.

scott@hex:~/overo/build$ bitbake -c cleansstate zip
scott@hex:~/overo/build$ bitbake zip

And then continue with the full build.

scott@hex:~/overo/build$ bitbake console-image

Copying the binaries to an SD card

After the build completes, the bootloader, kernel and rootfs image files can be found in TMPDIR/deploy/images/overo/.

The meta-overo/scripts directory has some helper scripts to format and copy the files to a microSD card.


This script will partition an SD card with the minimal 2 partitions required for the boards.

Insert the microSD into your workstation and note where it shows up. You may have to look at your syslog. I'll assume /dev/sdc for this example.

It doesn't matter if some partitions from the SD card are mounted. The mk2parts.sh script will unmount them.

BE CAREFUL with this script. It will format any disk on your workstation.

scott@hex:~$ cd ~/overo/meta-overo/scripts
scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo/scripts$ sudo ./mk2parts.sh sdc

You only have to format the SD card once.


You will need to create a mount point on your workstation for the copy scripts to use.

scott@hex:~$ sudo mkdir /media/card

You only have to create this directory once.


This script copies the bootloader (MLO, u-boot) and Linux kernel (uImage) to the boot partition of the SD card.

This script needs to know the TMPDIR to find the binaries. It looks for an environment variable called OETMP.

For instance, if I had this in the local.conf

TMPDIR = "/oe7/tmp-poky-dora-build"

Then I would export this environment variable before running copy_boot.sh

scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo/scripts$ export OETMP=/oe7/tmp-poky-dora-build

Then run the copy_boot.sh script passing the location of SD card

scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo/scripts$ ./copy_boot.sh sdc


This script copies files to the root file system partition of the SD card.

The script accepts an optional command line argument for the image type, either console or qte. The default is console.

The script also accepts a hostname argument if you want the host name to be something other then the default overo.

Here's an example of how you'd run copy_rootfs.sh

scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo/scripts$ ./copy_rootfs.sh sdc console


scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo/scripts$ ./copy_rootfs.sh sdc qte overo

The copy scripts will NOT unmount partitions automatically. If the partition that is supposed to be the on the SD card is already mounted, the script will complain and abort. This is for safety, mine mostly, since I run these scripts many times a day on different machines and the SD cards show up in different places.

Here's a realistic example session where I want to copy already built images to a second SD card that I just inserted.

scott@hex:~$ sudo umount /dev/sdc1
scott@hex:~$ sudo umount /dev/sdc2
scott@hex:~$ export OETMP=/oe7/tmp-poky-dora-build
scott@hex:~$ cd overo/meta-overo/scripts
scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo/scripts$ ./copy_boot.sh sdc
scott@hex:~/overo/meta-overo/scripts$ ./copy_rootfs.sh sdc console overo2