Building an ARM cross-toolchain with binutils, gcc, newlib, and gdb from source

Update: Please don't use this script, a fixed and updated version is now maintained in the summon-arm-toolchain git repo. Direct download: summon-arm-toolchain.

I've been planning to write about building custom ARM toolchains for a while (I used stuff from in the past, but I switched to the lastest and greatest upstream versions at some point). Among other things, recent upstream versions now have ARM Cortex support.

First you will need a few base utilities and libs (this list may not be complete):

  $ apt-get install flex bison libgmp3-dev libmpfr-dev libncurses5-dev libmpc-dev autoconf texinfo build-essential

Then you can use my tiny build-arm-toolchain script, which will download, build, and install the whole toolchain:

  $ cat build-arm-toolchain
  # Written by Uwe Hermann <>, released as public domain.

Update: Please don't use this script, a fixed and updated version is now maintained in the summon-arm-toolchain git repo. Direct download: summon-arm-toolchain.

The final toolchain is located in /tmp/arm-cortex-toolchain per default, and is ca. 170 MB in size. I explicitly created the build script in such a way that it minimizes the amount of disk space used during the build (ca. 1.2 GB or so, compared to more than 3 GB in the "naive" approach).

Using the "-j 2" option for make (see script) you can speed up the build quite a bit on multi-core machines (ca. 30 minutes vs. 60 minutes on an AMD X2 dual-core box). Also, you can change the script to build for other target variants if you want to (arm-elf or arm-none-eabi, for example).

Checkout the blog entry How to build arm gnu gcc toolchain for Mac OS X by Piotr Esden-Tempski for similar instructions for Mac OS X users.

Oh, and while I'm at it — does anybody have any idea why there are no pre-built toolchains for embedded (microcontroller) ARM targets in Debian? There are some toolchains for other microcontroller architectures (avr, m68hc1x, h8300, z80) but not too much other stuff. Is there some specific reason for the missing ARM toolchains (other than "nobody cared enough yet")?

I have heard about Emdebian, but from a quick look that seems to be more intended for toolchains with Linux/libc, not for microcontroller firmware (i.e. no MMU, no Linux, no libc etc.), but maybe I'm wrong?

Update: Please don't use this script, a fixed and updated version is now maintained in the summon-arm-toolchain git repo. Direct download: summon-arm-toolchain.

How to use the full size of your (x)term when connecting to some other box serially with minicom

minicom terminal size 1

Just as a reminder for myself, as I'll probably need this more often in the future (and maybe it's helpful for others):

Per default, if you use a big xterm (232x74 in my case) where you start minicom, the $COLUMNS and $LINES environment variables will be 80x24 nevertheless, and those applications which honor them (vim, for example) will be too small and not use the full xterm size of 232x74.

  $ minicom
  $ echo $COLUMNS; echo $LINES

minicom terminal size 2

You can fix that like this:

  $ eval `resize`
  $ echo $COLUMNS; echo $LINES

After you do eval `resize` the variables are updated and vim will use the full xterm size. That's all.

Teeworlds - a fun, fast-paced, open-source, online multiplayer shooter

Teeworlds CTF screenshot

I have no idea how such a great open-source game as Teeworlds has been able to exist without me hearing about it until recently.

Teeworlds is a fast-paced realtime multiplayer shooter. You control a small "Tee" which can hold various weapons (hammer, gun, shotgun, laser-rifle, rocket launcher, ninja-sword) while running and jumping around frantically on the map, trying to frag as many other Tees as you can before you're killed by some other guy. Easy, eh?

Teeworlds server list screenshot

There's are many game servers to choose from, as well as various game modes (death match, team death match, capfure the flag and some unofficial "mods"). You can join servers on the Internet, or create your own server, be it a public one or a LAN server.


Usually I would suggest apt-get install teeworlds, but for now the packages in unstable are an older 0.4.x version, whereas upstream released a much-improved 0.5.1 version. I have already filed a bug and I'm optimistic there'll be a new version in unstable soon.

In the mean-time however, you can manually build the game from source via:

 $ apt-get install zlib-dev libsdl1.2-dev
   (maybe also libgl, libglu, and python, if not already installed)
 $ wget '' -O
 $ wget
 $ unzip
 $ unzip
 $ cd bam-0.2.0
 $ ./
 $ cd ../teeworlds-0.5.1-src
 $ ../bam-0.2.0/src/bam release

Teeworlds stats screenshot

Running the game

 $ ./teeworlds

You'll obviously need a working OpenGL/DRI setup (check if "glxinfo | grep direct" says "Yes"), otherwise the game will be way too slow. In case you experience graphics glitches and distortions, first exit the game, then:

 $ vi ~/.teeworlds/settings.cfg

Change the "gfx_noclip 0" option there to "gfx_noclip 1" and restart the game.

Teeworlds DM screenshot


If you use a local firewall as I do, you need to open at least ports 8300-8303 (UDP), even better 8300-8310 for more choice in game servers:

 $ iptables -A OUTPUT -m state --state NEW -p udp --dport 8300:8310 -j ACCEPT

Further resources

Have fun!

Strange command line of the day

Stuff I didn't expect I'd had to type today:

  $ dpkg-repack dpkg-repack


Debian Lenny 5.0 released

Debian Lenny banner

Yes, just when you thought the spamming of Planet Debian with "Lenny released" blog posts had finally stopped, here comes another one :-)

Let me join the crowd by saying a great "thank you!" to all the people who made this release possible, especially so the release team who organized everything, as well as the thousands of contributors (in one form or another) who helped shape the new release!

Personally, I'm eager to try out the new Linux 2.6.28 kernel package in unstable now (which have been uploaded today or so, but haven't yet reached my mirror), since they contain mainline wireless drivers for my One A110 netbook, among many other things.

Also, in the next few days I'll probably re-install my NSLU2 ARM box using the latest Lenny installer, following the HOWTOs by Martin Michlmayr (I'll probably write about the experience later). This re-install is long overdue, as I'm currently running the box from an 1GB thumb drive, which works ok, but I'm slowly running out of space. So I'll re-install on a 4 GB (or bigger) thumb drive.

Syndicate content