scratchbox 1 & 2 howto


In case you are interested in development for ARM platforms I wrote a
howto for scratchbox:

I think it's the easiest way to do development, specially if you
compile many packages that use autotools.


Hi Filipe
i can not open the URL;
I am in china;
So can you send the content to me with email; I need it now; thank you very much;


Sure, here it is:


I’ve tried many different cross-compilation methods and so far
scratchbox is the simplest and most effective. Here I’ll try to
introduce the benefits of using it, and how to get started as simply
as possible.

If you are not familiar with scratchbox; it’s a cross-compilation
toolkit which allows you to use native tools (gcc, binutils, perl)
when possible and emulate the target through qemu when needed.

It’s needed because of autotools; have you seen these checks?
checking whether the C compiler works... yes

The configure script actually compiles a small program and then runs
it to validate it’s working, and sometimes extract information, such a
the size of certain structures which might be different depending on
the platform. If you tell ‘configure’ that you are cross-compiling it
will go through a different path (which is much less tested) and
ultimately will end up with wrong information that you need to

OpenEmbedded and other distributions go through each and every
package, make sure cross-compilation works, sometimes patching, and often providing some information that normally would
be obtained by running some test program.

This is an example of a typical GLib cross-compilation
./configure ---host=arm-linux --build=i386-linux

You’ll see something like:

checking whether the C compiler works... yes
checking whether we are cross compiling... yes

And then:

checking for growing stack pointer... configure: error: in `glib-2.20.3':
configure: error: cannot run test program while cross compiling

Of course, ‘configure’ has no way of knowing whether the stack grows
on this particular platform. So you need to tell him yourself by
creating an arm-linux.cache file like this:

And then running:
./configure --host=arm-linux --build=i386-linux --cache-file=arm-linux.cache

Of course that is not enough, you need to specify more:

And then the compilation fails because I don’t have glib-genmarshal in
my system, and it’s needed by the build. Normally it’s compiled and
run in the build, but now we can’t do that.

All these problems disappear with scratchbox.
Installing scratchbox 1

Many people think it’s difficult to install, but it’s not. Just follow
these easy steps:

Download the basic packages:
wget -c
wget -c
wget -c
wget -c

Extract them:
sudo tar -xf /tmp/sb/scratchbox-core-1.0.14-i386.tar.gz -C /opt
sudo tar -xf /tmp/sb/scratchbox-libs-1.0.14-i386.tar.gz -C /opt
sudo tar -xf /tmp/sb/scratchbox-devkit-qemu-0.10.0-0sb5-i386.tar.gz -C /opt
sudo tar -xf /tmp/sb/scratchbox-toolchain-cs2007q3-glibc2.5-arm7-1.0.12-9-i386.tar.gz
-C /opt

Setup scratchbox, and add your user:
sudo /opt/scratchbox/
sudo /opt/scratchbox/sbin/sbox_adduser $USER yes

You'll need to re-login to be in the sbox group and have proper permissions:
sudo su $USER

Finally, setup an armv7 target (you can have multiple targets inside
/opt/scratchbox/tools/bin/sb-conf setup armv7 --force
--compiler="cs2007q3-glibc2.5-arm7" --devkits="qemu"
/opt/scratchbox/tools/bin/sb-conf select armv7
/opt/scratchbox/tools/bin/sb-conf install armv7 --clibrary --devkits
--fakeroot --etc

That's it, you have scratchbox setup :slight_smile: I explicitly mentioned all the
commands, but instead you can run this script that I wrote.

Before running scratchbox you'll need to do some steps as root:
echo 0 > /proc/sys/vm/vdso_enabled
echo 4096 > /proc/sys/vm/mmap_min_addr
/opt/scratchbox/sbin/sbox_ctl start

And then as user:

This will get you to this screen:

Welcome to Scratchbox, the cross-compilation toolkit!

Use 'sb-menu' to change your compilation target.
See /scratchbox/doc/ for documentation.

[sbox-armv7: ~] >

Now if you want to cross-compile GLib, you do it as in your PC:
./configure && make install

Much easier, now scratchbox does all the magic :wink:
Scratchbox 2

Scratchbox 1 serves it's purpose, but there are many corner-cases
where things get overly complicated so people came up with a much more
elegant approach: Scratchbox 2.

In sb1 you need to login to a target (e.g. armv7, armv6, fremantle,
diablo, etc.) in order to do anything, you can use only one target at
a time, and each target is independent, in order to share tools
between targets you need a devkit. Also, toolchains must be packaged
in a special way.

In sb2, you don't login, you can setup any toolchain easily, you can
use multiple targets at the same time, and you can configure it to do
pretty much anything you want.

sb2 doesn't include QEMU, you must have it already, this is how I compile it:
git clone git://
cd qemu
git checkout -b stable v0.10.5
./configure --prefix=/opt/qemu --target-list=arm-linux-user
make install

Compile and install like this:
git clone git://
cd sbox2
./configure --prefix=/opt/sb2
make install

Add sb2 to the PATH:
export PATH=/opt/sb2/bin:$PATH

Now it's time to configure a target, I have a CodeSourcery toolchain
installed on /opt/arm-2008q3, so:
cd /opt/arm-2008q3/arm-none-linux-gnueabi/libc/
sb2-init -c /opt/qemu/bin/qemu-arm armv7

You don't need to log-in, just prefix your commands with sb2 to do the magic:
sb2 ./configure --prefix=/opt/arm/

If you want to use a different target just use the -t option:
sb2 -t armv8 ./configure --prefix=/opt/arm/

How cool is that?