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Build Gear

A lightweight embedded firmware build tool

buildgear-0.9.21.tar.xz Release Notes (09-03-14)

Latest Code Commits


What is Build Gear?

Build Gear is a lightweight build tool for building embedded firmware.

The primary focus of this build tool is to make it easy to create and maintain fully customized embedded firmware. This is reflected in a straightforward command line interface and support for easy to understand build files. The secondary focus is build performance and build integrity. Build Gear is easy to use and well suited for rapid prototyping and product development of GNU/Linux firmware to be deployed in small to medium sized embedded systems.

How to install?

Build Gear is easily installed. See the installation section of the Build Gear handbook

How to build stuff?

Build Gear makes building a basic filesystem for eg. the Beaglebone Black as easy as:

$ git clone --recursive git://
$ cd beaglebone
$ buildgear build fs

This will make Build Gear automatically download the source code of all included filesystem components, resolve build dependencies, and build everything in correct order - the end result is a compressed filesystem tarball in the build output directory: build/output/fs.tar.gz

Do we need another build tool?

In short, yes! We need a truly simple build tool for easily creating fully customized embedded GNU/Linux firmware.

The main motivation for creating Build Gear is to create a firmware build tool which operates in simpler and more transparent ways than existing build tools. Transparency is an imperative precondition for being able to easily create and customize embedded firmware for specific needs and at the same time maintain a high level of firmware quality. One of the finest qualities of Build Gear is that it makes it easy to start from scratch. Also, there is a good collection of build files available for reuse or inspiration and if you are missing any features you can easily customize or add build files yourself.


  • Simple build files
  • Cross and native type build files
  • Build dependency support
  • Automatic rebuild support
  • Support for independent build spaces
  • One global build configuration file
  • Local and global tool configuration
  • Build layer support
  • Advanced build log support
  • Automatic source download
  • Integrated download manager:
    • Support for http, https, ftp, ftps type URLs
    • Parallel download support
    • Download resume support
    • Download super mirror support
    • URL redirection support
  • Compressed source tarball support
  • Crosstool-NG toolchain support
  • Bash autocompletion
  • Automatic stripping of binaries
  • SVG dependency graph support
  • SVG load chart support
  • Build footprint support
  • Build checksum support (sha256sum)
  • Build system type detection
  • Build system check support
  • Parallel build support
  • Build log rotation


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.


Release tarballs are available here.


Latest revision of the Build Gear Handbook is available online here.


Please notice that the handbook documentation is currently considered somewhat incomplete and work in progress.

Mailing List

Please subscribe to the following mailing list for development, help, bug reports, announcements, discussions, etc.: Build Gear Development Mailing List


We hang out on the #buildgear channel at


The Build Gear source code is available on github:

Continious integration builds are available via Contigrator:

Build file repositories

There is a collection of reference buildfiles available here:

These buildfiles are part of the socalled "Mini Distribution". Feel free to use these directly or use them as inspiration for creating your own firmware distribution. A small selection of boards are currently maintained.

Please notice that the "Mini Distribution" is a reference distribution maintained by the Build Gear maintainers. It includes a limited but fair amount of components and features. That being said you should be able to easily reuse, modify or extend it for your own needs. In fact, we invite you to create your own distribution. Build Gear makes it easy to do!

Also, please notice that we currently only support building the Mini Distribution using latest Ubuntu. Other distributions installed on your build system are not supported but will likely work - use on your own risk!


Feel free to contribute - Build Gear is fully open source and open for ideas and patches which improve the build tool itself or any of the available build files. Go ahead, introduce yourself on the mailing list.