CSE 522S: Studio 1

Welcome To Linux

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."

—Bilbo, The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein, Book 1, Chapter 3

Welcome to Advanced Operating Systems! We're going to start by compiling Linux from source. Even if you've done this kind of thing before, this studio will get you the source code and resources that this class depends on, along with additional experience working with the Raspberry Pi platform.

In this studio, you will:

  1. Set up your Raspberry Pi 3
  2. Download the Linux source code and apply a source code patch
  3. Configure the Linux kernel
  4. Compile and install your own custom kernel

Please complete the required exercises below, as well as any optional enrichment exercises that you wish to complete.

As you work through these exercises, please record your answers, and when finished email your results to eng-cse522@email.wustl.edu with the phrase Welcome To Linux Studio in the subject line.

Make sure that the name of each person who worked on these exercises is listed in the first answer, and make sure you number each of your responses so it is easy to match your responses with each exercise.

Required Exercises

  1. As the answer to the first exercise, list the names of the people who worked together on this studio.

  2. To start, you need to set up your Raspberry Pi 3 so that you're able to access a working version of Linux. If you have the reccommended starter kit from Canakit, you can follow these directions. NOTE: This course was developed using the default Raspbian distribution. You're free to use other distributions, but you're on your own if something doesn't work properly. You will need a graphical interface later in the course.

    Once you have successfully booted into Linux, you can use the command uname to get a variety of information about the currently running system, such as the current kernel version or the date on which the currently running kernel was compiled. As the answer to this exercise, copy and paste the output of the command "uname -a".

  3. Now it's time to download the Linux kernel source code and patch it. For a general-purpose project, you would go to kernel.org and download the Linux source from there. However, since we're using the Raspberry Pi we'll be starting with a port designed for our platform. The Raspberry Pi project maintains it's own distribution on GitHub, at https://github.com/raspberrypi. We'll be modifying the kernel building guide that you can find here.

    To save hours of time, and avoid potential freezing of your Raspberry Pi during long-running local compiles, we will be cross-compiling the kernel using a university-managed server (shell.cec.wustl.edu) and machines in the Linux Lab.

    First log into shell.cec.wustl.edu via ssh using your wustl key.

    Create a folder called linux_source to keep all of your source code organized. Move into your new folder and issue the following commands, each of which may take several minutes to finish:

    wget https://github.com/raspberrypi/linux/archive/raspberrypi-kernel_1.20160506-1.tar.gz

    tar -xzf raspberrypi-kernel_1.20160506-1.tar.gz

    This has the effect of downloading a specific version of the Raspberry Pi 3 Linux distribution, which is the version that this course was developed with. Newer versions exist, which we won't use for class but you can pursue on your own time if you'd like. Once the files finish unpacking you'll have a new directory, which we suggest renaming as something simpler with the mv command. We renamed ours linux, which is what the rest of these instructions will assume you've done as well.

    Move into your new linux directory, and issue the command make kernelversion, which will tell you which Linux kernel version you've just checked out. As the answer to this exercise, copy the output of the command make kernelversion

  4. Next, you will apply a Linux source code patch. Source code patches are the way that cutting-edge kernel software is shared among kernel hackers. Long before features find their way into major distributions they exist as source code patches, and many contributions that aren't accepted into the Linux mainline exist only as source code patches. In this case, we're going to apply the PREEMPT_RT patch, which allows the kernel to be fully preemptible.

    First, go to kernel.org/pub/linux, which is the public Linux source code repository, and click through "kernel", "projects", and then "rt". You will need to use the answer to the previous exercise in order to find the correct source code patch that matches the version of the Linux kernel that you're using. For example, if you have source code version "4.0.7", then you will move to the directory "4.0" and get "patch-4.0.7-rt11.patch.gz". (Warning: do NOT use the file that starts with "patches", the patch file contains the complete, current version of the patch, while the patches file contains data necessary to update from the last issued version of the rt patch.)

    Move into your linux_source directory and use wget to obtain the appropriate patch file ending in gz. To apply the patch, move into your linux source code directory (the one with arch, drivers, init, etc.) and issue the following command: (you will need to change version numbers)

    zcat ../patch-4.0.7-rt11.patch.gz | patch -p1

    The zcat command works like the cat command, but does so for compressed files. If you just issue the command zcat ../patch-4.0.7-rt11.patch.gz by itself you'll see that the source code patch is actually stored in diff format. The vertical bar character pipes the output of zcat into another program called patch, which just applies each individual diff to the appropriate files in the source code directory.

    If no errors are reported, then proceed to the next step. Leave this answer blank.

  5. Now it's time to configure the Linux kernel. There are thousands of possible configuration options- many quite interesting and many quite dull. Rather than setting all these options manually, we'll we'll create the default Raspberry Pi 3 configuration and then tweak it. Issue the commands:

    module add raspberry (this adds the cross-compiler to your PATH variable)

    KERNEL=kernel7 (this is used by some build scripts)

    Note that in some terminal environments (depending on how you have set up your account on shell.cec.wustl.edu) you may need to do this using the set command: set KERNEL=kernel7

    make -j8 ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- bcm2709_defconfig

    To reiterate, if you were building a general purpose kernel, you wouldn't use the previous two commands. They're setting a default configuration for Raspberry Pi . Next, we want to set custom configuration options. Issue the command:

    make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- menuconfig

    After a moment, you'll get a kernel configuration menu. As you can see, there are a _lot_ of options. For now, we're just going to do two things. First, we will enable the RT_PREEMPT patch we applied previously. Go into "Kernel Features", and then select "Preemption Model". If the patch was applied correctly, you'll have the option "Fully Preemptible Kernel (RT)", which you should select.

    Next you'll add your own unique identifier to the kernel you build. Navigate to "Local version" under "General setup". The local version string you specify here will be appended to the output of the uname command. If you applied the default Raspberry Pi configuration correctly, this should be set to "-v7". Go ahead and add your own unique identifier, though recall that uname already gives you the kernel version number, the day and time the kernel was compiled, as well as other info.Warning: do not include a space in the local version string- this will break the build script when you run sudo make modules_install in the future.

    As the answer to this exercise, find a neat sounding option and use the "H" key to bring up a short description. Provide the option's name, a short summary, and the option's symbol. Once you're done, exit the configurator and be sure to answer "Yes" when asked to save your changes.

  6. Finally, we're able to start compiling the kernel. This would take about an hour and a half if we were building the kernel locally on your Raspberry Pi instead of cross-compiling.

    Because kernel compiles are computationally intensive, you should not run them on the shell.cec.wustl.edu server, and instead should run the qlogin command to log into a Linux Lab host to run your compilations.

    Once you are logged into one of the Linux Lab machines, confirm that you are still in your linux_source/linux directory (or if not cd into it). Then, issue the following commands to cross-compile the kernel:

    module add raspberry


    make -j8 ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- zImage modules dtbs

    The compile will take several minutes. Once it's done, issue the following command:

    mkdir ../modules

    This will create a directory that the cross-compiler will use to store the kernel modules that it creates. You will later transfer these to your Raspberry Pi. Then issue the command:

    make -j8 ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- INSTALL_MOD_PATH=../modules modules_install

    Leave this answer blank.

  7. Now we need to transfer our recently compiled kernel and modules back to our Raspberry Pi in order to install them. Open up a local terminal on your Pi. As you did on the server, create a directory called linux_source that will serve as a place to organize your code. Move inside your linux_source directory and create a directory called lib and another directory called boot. The naming is important, because the Pi's version of sftp will only transfer entire directories if the source and destination folders have the same name. From your linux_source directory run the following commands:

    sftp [your wustl key]@shell.cec.wustl.edu

    cd linux_source

    get -r modules/lib/

    get -r linux/arch/arm/boot/

    get linux/scripts/mkknlimg

    quit (to get back to your Pi)

    Back up your directories /lib and /boot, because you will be modifiying their contents. To do this, we used sudo cp -r /lib ~/Desktop/lib_backup and a similar command for /boot. You should be in your linux_source directory. If not navigate there and run the following commands:

    cd lib

    sudo cp -rd * /lib/

    cd ..


    sudo cp boot/dts/*.dtb /boot/

    sudo cp boot/dts/overlays/*.dtb* /boot/overlays

    sudo cp boot/dts/overlays/README /boot/overlays

    sudo ./mkknlimg boot/zImage /boot/$KERNEL.img

    At this point, your new kernel is installed. When you reboot, you'll be running your very own, custom kernel.

    Go ahead and reboot now. If everything went OK, the new system should look and feel the same as before. You can verify that your new kernel is running with the command uname -a. In particular, the build date should be today, the version string should include the local version string you specifed during configuration, and your Linux source code version with the characters "rt" should appear, which indicates that the PREEMPT_RT patch has been applied.

    As the answer to this exercise, copy the output of uname -a.

    Congratulations! You've just compiled an operating system from source!

Optional Enrichment Exercises

  1. The instructions above are lengthier and convoluted because we're building a kernel specifically for the Raspberry Pi 3. If you'd like the experience of bulding a general purpose kernel, or if you're curious about building on a different machine, you can do so easily. First, go to kernel.org and download any recent release. Unzip the release (and if you'd like, apply the PREEMPT_RT patch). Then, building a general kernel is just a few commands:

    make menuconfig

    make -jN where N is the number of cores you want to use to compile

    sudo make modules_install install

    That's all there is to it! The install targets will automatically and correctly install the new kernel on the common Linux distributions. In the base source code directory there's a file called README which contains compilation and installation instructions for a wide range of scenarios.

    For a sufficently powerful machine, building a new kernel is pretty painless. Our lab's 16 core, 3.2Ghz Intel machines take about 15 minutes to compile and install.

  2. Follow the instructions for Compiling On-Board your Raspberry Pi, and as the answer to this exercise summarize what differences you noted (including any problems you encountered) compared to the cross-compilation approach noted above.