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FarmBot's Rick Carlino Gives Raspberry Pi Users "the Shortest, Fastest Buildroot Tutorial"

FarmBot's Rick Carlino Gives Raspberry Pi Users "the Shortest, Fastest Buildroot Tutorial"


Rick Carlino, co-founder of the FarmBot open source agriculture automation project, has penned a guide to building your own operating system images for the Raspberry Pi, or any other compatible single-board computer — using Buildroot.

"Build a lightweight, bootable *.img file that you can flash onto a Raspberry Pi SD card," Carlino writes of his tutorial, which he predicts will take most around ten minutes to read — excluding carrying out any of the practical exercises. "This will be the shortest, fastest Buildroot tutorial you read, and the tutorial is optimized for speed and simplicity."

Designed, Carlino explains, for hobbyists and software developers who have outgrown the pre-built operating system images readily available for download, the tutorial walks through the installation of the Buildroot toolchain — a collection of utilities with a neat menu system for configuring various operating system features — and then using it to create a custom configuration.

"This is the part where you can really see how Buildroot makes life easy," Carlino writes. "Let’s imagine that we are working on a project that requires Lua, a scripting language interpreter. If we were not using a tool like Buildroot, we would need to locate the Lua source packages, compile its dependencies and finally build Lua from source. After that, we would place the compiled file(s) into the target filesystem. In Buildroot, the process is much simpler: Run make menuconfig; Locate the lua buildroot package; Enable the package before building the system."

Once everything is configured, it's simply a case of building the system — a single make command — and then burning the resulting image, which in Carlino's example is just 159MB, to a microSD card.

"Many Buildroot tutorials will attempt to teach all of the essentials in one go," Carlino notes. "Unfortunately, this leads to confusion in the early phases of learning. My tutorial intentionally skips many advanced aspects of Buildroot to avoid information overload."

The full tutorial, and links to where you can read more on Buildroot, is available on Carlino's blog.

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