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A Complete Guide to Installing and Using Linaro Embedded Toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit


Linaro Embedded Toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit: A Complete Guide




If you are an Ubuntu user who wants to develop software for Arm-based devices, you may have heard of Linaro embedded toolchain. But what is it exactly? And how can you install and use it on your Ubuntu system?




Linaro embedded toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit



In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about Linaro embedded toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit. You will discover what is Linaro, what is an embedded toolchain, and why it is useful for Ubuntu users. You will also learn how to install, set up, and use Linaro embedded toolchain on your Ubuntu system By the end of this article, you will be able to create, compile, run, debug, and optimize your own programs for Arm devices using Linaro embedded toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit. So, let's get started!


What is Linaro?




Linaro is an open source organization that works on software development for Arm processors. It was founded in 2010 by a group of leading technology companies, such as Arm, IBM, Samsung, Qualcomm, and others. Its mission is to provide the best software foundations for the Arm ecosystem, by collaborating on common projects, optimizing software performance, and reducing fragmentation.


Linaro supports and develops a wide range of projects and products related to Arm software development, such as Linux kernel, Android, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, OpenEmbedded, Yocto Project, Zephyr Project, TensorFlow Lite, OP-TEE, Trusted Firmware-A, and many more. Linaro also provides various tools and resources for developers, such as toolchains, libraries, benchmarks, documentation, training, and support.


What is an Embedded Toolchain?




An embedded toolchain is a set of tools that allows you to compile and run software for a different platform than the one you are using. For example, if you want to develop software for an Arm device (such as a smartphone or a Raspberry Pi) on your Ubuntu system (which uses an x86 processor), you need an embedded toolchain that can translate your code from x86 to Arm.


An embedded toolchain typically consists of four components:


  • A compiler: a program that converts your source code (such as C or C++) into machine code (such as binary or assembly) for the target platform.



  • A linker: a program that combines the machine code files generated by the compiler into a single executable file that can run on the target platform.



  • A debugger: a program that helps you find and fix errors in your code by allowing you to inspect and modify the state of the program while it is running.



  • A library: a collection of pre-written code that provides common functions and features that you can use in your program.



Some examples of common embedded toolchains are GCC (GNU Compiler Collection), LLVM (Low Level Virtual Machine), Clang (a compiler front-end for LLVM), and Binutils (a collection of binary tools). Each toolchain has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of performance, compatibility, stability, and support.


Why Use Linaro Embedded Toolchain on Ubuntu?




Linaro embedded toolchain is one of the best options for Ubuntu users who want to develop software for Arm devices. Here are some of the benefits of using Linaro embedded toolchain on Ubuntu:


  • Performance: Linaro embedded toolchain is optimized for Arm processors, which means it can generate faster and more efficient code than other toolchains. Linaro also regularly updates its toolchain with the latest improvements and features from upstream projects such as GCC and LLVM.



  • Compatibility: Linaro embedded toolchain supports a wide range of Arm architectures and platforms, such as Armv7-A (32-bit), Armv8-A (64-bit), Cortex-A (application processors), Cortex-R (real-time processors), Cortex-M (microcontrollers), and more. Linaro also provides pre-built binaries for different operating systems and distributions, such as Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Android, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.



  • Stability: Linaro embedded toolchain is tested and verified by Linaro engineers and community members before each release. Linaro also follows a regular release cycle (every three months) and maintains stable branches for long-term support.



  • Support: Linaro embedded toolchain is backed by a large and active community of developers and users who can provide help and feedback through various channels, such as mailing lists, forums, IRC chat rooms, bug trackers, etc. Linaro also offers professional services and training for customers who need more assistance or customization.



How to Install Linaro Embedded Toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit?




In this section, you will learn how to install Linaro embedded toolchain on your Ubuntu 64-Bit system. You will need the following prerequisites:


Prerequisites




  • A computer with Ubuntu 64-Bit installed. You can check your system architecture by running uname -m in a terminal. It should output x86_64.



  • A stable internet connection to download the toolchain.



  • At least 1 GB of free disk space to store the toolchain. You can check your available disk space by running df -h in a terminal.



  • Some basic knowledge of Linux commands and terminal usage. You can find some tutorials and guides online, such as [this one].



Downloading Linaro Embedded Toolchain




The first step is to download the Linaro embedded toolchain from the official website. You can find the latest version and the release notes [here]. For this tutorial, we will use the version 7.5-2019.12, which supports Armv7-A and Armv8-A architectures.


You can download the toolchain using your web browser or using the wget command in a terminal. The file size is about 800 MB, so it may take some time depending on your internet speed.


If you use your web browser, you can click on the link that says gcc-linaro-7.5.0-2019.12-x86_64_arm-linux-gnueabihf.tar.xz and save the file to your preferred location, such as your Downloads folder.


If you use the wget command, you can run the following code in a terminal:


wget https://releases.linaro.org/components/toolchain/binaries/latest-7/arm-linux-gnueabihf/gcc-linaro-7.5.0-2019.12-x86_64_arm-linux-gnueabihf.tar.xz


This will download the file to your current working directory, which you can check by running pwd in a terminal.


Extracting Linaro Embedded Toolchain




The next step is to extract the downloaded file using the tar command or a graphical tool. The file is compressed using the xz format, which reduces the file size but also requires more CPU power to decompress.


If you use the tar command, you can run the following code in a terminal:


tar xvf gcc-linaro-7.5.0-2019.12-x86_64_arm-linux-gnueabihf.tar.xz


This will create a folder named gcc-linaro-7.5.0-2019.12-x86_64_arm-linux-gnueabihf in your current working directory, which contains the toolchain files.


If you use a graphical tool, you can right-click on the file and choose "Extract Here" or "Extract To" from the menu. This will create a folder with the same name as the file in your preferred location, which contains the toolchain files.


Setting Up Linaro Embedded Toolchain




The final step is to set up Linaro embedded toolchain by adding it to the PATH variable and verifying its installation. The PATH variable is a list of directories that tells your system where to look for executable files, such as programs and commands.


To add Linaro embedded toolchain to the PATH variable, you need to edit your .bashrc file, which is a configuration file that runs every time you open a new terminal session. You can edit your .bashrc file using a text editor or an IDE of your choice.


To edit your .bashrc file using a text editor, you can run the following code in a terminal:


nano /.bashrc


This will open your .bashrc file in nano, which is a simple text editor that comes with Ubuntu. You can also use other text editors, such as gedit, vim, or emacs.


To edit your .bashrc file using an IDE, you can open it from the File menu or by browsing to your home directory (which is usually /home/your_username) and double-clicking on it.


Once you have opened your .bashrc file, you need to add the following line at the end of it:


export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/your/toolchain/bin


You need to replace /path/to/your/toolchain/bin with the actual path to your toolchain bin directory, which depends on where you extracted it. For example, if you extracted it in your Downloads folder, the path would be /home/your_username/Downloads/gcc-linaro-7.5.0-2019.12-x86_64_arm-linux-gnueabihf/bin.


After adding the line, you need to save and close your .bashrc file. If you use nano, you can press Ctrl+O to save and Ctrl+X to exit. If you use an IDE, you can use the Save and Close buttons or the keyboard shortcuts.


To apply the changes to your .bashrc file, you need to reload it by running the following code in a terminal:


source /.bashrc


This will update your PATH variable with the new value.


To verify that Linaro embedded toolchain is installed and working correctly, you can run the following code in a terminal:


gcc-linaro --version


This will display the version and information of Linaro embedded toolchain. You should see something like this:


gcc-linaro (Linaro GCC 7.5-2019.12) 7.5.0 Copyright (C) 2017 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.


If you see this output, congratulations! You have successfully installed Linaro embedded toolchain on your Ubuntu 64-Bit system.


How to Use Linaro Embedded Toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit?




In this section, you will learn how to use Linaro embedded toolchain on your Ubuntu 64-Bit system. You will create, compile, run, debug, and optimize a simple C program that prints "Hello World" using Linaro embedded toolchain and specifying the target architecture (arm-linux-gnueabihf).


Creating a Simple Program




The first step is to create a simple C program that prints "Hello World" using a text editor or an IDE of your choice. You can use any text editor or IDE that supports C programming, such as nano, gedit, vim, emacs, Visual Studio Code, Eclipse, etc.


To create a simple C program using a text editor, you can run the following code in a terminal:


nano hello.c


This will open a new file named hello.c in nano. You can also use other text editors by replacing nano with their name.


To create a simple C program using an IDE, you can open it from the Applications menu or by clicking on its icon. Then, you can create a new project or file and name it hello.c.


Once you have opened your file, you need to write the following code in it:


#include


int main(void) printf("Hello World\n"); return 0;


This is a basic C program that includes the standard input/output library (stdio.h), defines the main function that runs when the program starts, prints "Hello World" followed by a newline character (\n) to the standard output (usually the terminal), and returns 0 to indicate a successful execution.


After writing the code, you need to save and close your file. If you use nano, you can press Ctrl+O to save and Ctrl+X to exit. If you use an IDE, you can use the Save and Close buttons or the keyboard shortcuts.


Compiling and Running the Program




The next step is to compile and run the program using Linaro embedded toolchain and specifying the target architecture (arm-linux-gnueabihf). This will generate an executable file that can run on Arm devices.


To compile and run the program using Linaro embedded toolchain, you need to run the following code in a terminal:


gcc-linaro -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf hello.c -o hello


This will invoke Linaro embedded toolchain's compiler (gcc-linaro) with the following options:


  • -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf: specifies the target architecture as Armv7-A with hard float ABI (application binary interface).



  • hello.c: specifies the source code file as hello.c.



  • -o hello: specifies the output file name as hello.



If the compilation is successful, you should see no errors or warnings in the terminal. You should also see a new file named hello in your current working directory, which is the executable file for Arm devices.


To run the program on your Ubuntu system, you need to use an emulator or simulator that can mimic an Arm device, such as QEMU (Quick Emulator). You can install QEMU from the Ubuntu Software Center or by running the following code in a terminal:


sudo apt install qemu-user


This will install QEMU and its user mode emulation for various architectures, including Arm. You may need to enter your password to confirm the installation.


To run the program using QEMU, you need to run the following code in a terminal:


qemu-arm ./hello


This will invoke QEMU with the following options:


  • qemu-arm: specifies the emulator for Arm architecture.



  • ./hello: specifies the executable file as hello in the current working directory.



If the program runs correctly, you should see the following output in the terminal:


Hello World


Congratulations! You have successfully compiled and run your first program for Arm devices using Linaro embedded toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit.


Debugging and Optimizing the Program




The final step is to debug and optimize the program using Linaro embedded toolchain and its tools, such as gdb-linaro, objdump-linaro, etc. Debugging is the process of finding and fixing errors in your code, while optimizing is the process of improving the performance and efficiency of your code.


To debug and optimize the program using Linaro embedded toolchain, you need to use some additional options and commands when compiling and running the program. Here are some examples of common errors and warnings and how to fix them:


  • Undefined reference: this error occurs when you try to use a function or a variable that is not defined or declared in your code or in any of the libraries that you include. To fix this error, you need to either define or declare the function or variable, or include the library that contains it. For example, if you try to use the function sqrt without including math.h, you will get an undefined reference error. To fix it, you need to add #include at the beginning of your code.



  • Segmentation fault: this error occurs when you try to access a memory location that is not allocated or allowed for your program. This can happen when you use pointers, arrays, or dynamic memory allocation incorrectly. To fix this error, you need to check your code for any memory errors, such as out-of-bounds access, null pointer dereference, memory leak, etc. You can also use a debugger tool, such as gdb-linaro, to find the exact location and cause of the error. To use gdb-linaro, you need to compile your program with the -g option, which adds debugging information to your executable file. For example, you can run gcc-linaro -g -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf hello.c -o hello to compile your program with debugging information. Then, you can run gdb-linaro ./hello to start gdb-linaro and use its commands to debug your program.



  • Warning: unused variable: this warning occurs when you declare a variable but never use it in your code. This can affect the readability and maintainability of your code, as well as waste some memory space. To fix this warning, you can either use or remove the variable from your code. You can also use the -Wall option when compiling your program, which enables all warnings and helps you find and fix any potential problems in your code. For example, you can run gcc-linaro -Wall -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf hello.c -o hello to compile your program with all warnings enabled.



Here are some tips on how to improve the performance and efficiency of your program using optimization flags and options:


  • -O: this option enables basic optimization, which improves the speed and size of your executable file without changing its functionality. For example, you can run gcc-linaro -O -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf hello.c -o hello to compile your program with basic optimization.



  • -O2: this option enables more advanced optimization, which further improves the speed and size of your executable file by applying more aggressive techniques, such as loop unrolling, function inlining, etc. However, this option may also increase the compilation time and make debugging more difficult. For example, you can run gcc-linaro -O2 -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf hello.c -o hello to compile your program with more advanced optimization.



  • -Os: this option enables optimization for size, which reduces the size of your executable file as much as possible without sacrificing too much speed. This option is useful for embedded systems where memory space is limited. For example, you can run gcc-linaro -Os -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf hello.c -o hello to compile your program with optimization for size.



  • -mcpu and -mtune: these options specify the target CPU and its tuning for optimization. You can use these options to optimize your program for a specific Arm processor or family, such as Cortex-A9, Cortex-A53, etc. For example, you can run gcc-linaro -O2 -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf -mcpu=cortex-a9 -mtune=cortex-a9 hello.c -o hello to compile your program with optimization for Cortex-A9 processor.



  • -mfpu and -mfloat-abi: these options specify the target floating-point unit and ABI for optimization. You can use these options to optimize your program for a specific floating-point hardware or software implementation, such as VFPv3, NEON, etc. For example, you can run gcc-linaro -O2 -march=arm-linux-gnueabihf -mfpu=neon -mfloat-abi=hard hello.c -o hello to compile your program with optimization for NEON floating-point unit and hard float ABI.



You can find more information and options about Linaro embedded toolchain and its optimization flags and options in the official documentation [here].


Conclusion




In this article, you have learned how to install and use Linaro embedded toolchain on Ubuntu 64-Bit. You have also learned how to create, compile, run, debug, and optimize a simple C program for Arm devices using Linaro embedded toolchain.


Linaro embedded toolchain is a powerful and versatile tool that can help you develop software for Arm devices on your Ubuntu system. It offers many benefits, such as performance, compatibility, stability, and support. It also provides various tools and resources for developers, such as libraries, benchmarks, documentation, training, and support.


If you want to learn more about Linaro embedded toolchain or Linaro in general, you can visit their official website [here]. You can also join their community and contribute to their projects and products [here].


We hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or contact us directly. We would love to hear from you!


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