Yocto vs. Buildroot - How to build your own Linux?

System builder tools exist in a wide variety of variants and forms. Two have particularly stood out in recent years: Buildroot and Yocto.

Linux Pinguin Stofftier auf Platine
Mario Salhofer Portrait quer

System builders are programs that help Linux system developers to select the necessary software packages for the system to be built. This results in a Linux distribution, i.e. an "operating system kernel" for the target platform - in our case for an embedded system. This can then be combined with a wide variety of programs for the user.

These system builder tools are available in a wide range of variants and forms. Two in particular have stood out in recent years: Buildroot and Yocto.

Both projects are open source and make it possible to build Linux systems yourself. They are widely used in industry and well documented. When using Buildroot or Yocto, you immediately get everything you need for your own small Linux distribution:

  •     a root filesystem
  •     a toolchain
  •     the Linux kernel itself
  •     and a bootloader

Both programs have approximately the same quality and quantity with about 2000 software packages each and can be assembled for different target platforms and architectures like ARM or i386. One speaks of the so-called "cross-platform".

What is the difference between Yocto and Buildroot?

At first glance quite similar, but on closer inspection both differ in the philosophy of how systems are built:

Diagramm Yocto Buildroot

What does Ginzinger work with?

Ginzinger uses System Builder primarily to generate a large part of the software components for GELin. As an in-house embedded Linux distribution, GELin has existed at Ginzinger electronic systems for over ten years. Software components are built for exactly one processor architecture - for example the i.MX6 processor series from NXP.

 GELin forms a user-friendly abstraction layer to make the complexity of the system builder and software components easily manageable.

Ginzinger relies on Buildroot as a tool. The centralized maintenance, without the layers common with Yocto, simplifies communication with the community and collaboration. The simple, clear and flat structures are easy to understand, save resources and can be mastered relatively quickly.

Buildroot's lean structure allows Ginzinger to fully focus on implementing highly optimized solutions for end customers. Together with the years of development knowhow this means an enormous advantage for the end customer. 

Questions about custom electronics?