Development Guide

Required setup

A Linux host and Nix are the two requirements for this project. Knowledge about using git will help, but fetching a tarball or zip from GitHub could do in a pinch.


The author uses NixOS, but NixOS is not a requirement.

Only Nix the package manager is required to build this project. It can be installed on any Linux distribution.

It is preferred to install from the official Nix installer. Using the distribution-packaged Nix may not work.

I don't want to or can't install Nix on my system


Though you can use a build shim that uses a Docker container.

Using Nix through Docker is not ideal, but should work when working under specific conditions.

When using the build shim, replace nix-build invocations with the path to the shim (e.g../support/docker/ Note that this only works if the command does not reference a nix file directly.

I'm not on a Linux system

While Nix works on macOS, this project require a Linux builder to work. Using the Docker build shim may work, testing is needed, contributions welcome.

I just want to build

You still should read a bit more past this section, but if you absolutely only want to build, here's how you can build the uBoot-sandbox board.

 $ nix-build -A uBoot-sandbox

After the build is finished successfully, a result symlink will refer to the build output. The build output by default is the content of the archive.

A primer on Nix

First, read more about Nix elsewhere. Nix here is used as a glue to configure the builds.

Knowing Nix will help you better understand what you are looking at.

Look at the following resources.

The upstream manuals of the NixOS project are good, but mainly when you already have knowledge about Nix. They are more of a reference than a learning resource.

Important concepts

What's callPackage?

callPackage is a sort of dependency injection that is borrowed from Nixpkgs.

The dependency injection makes it so we don't have to really care about where the dependencies are in the codebase. As long as it's in the scope callPackage is working with, we can "ask" for a dependency.

Making derivations "overridable" allows us to customize the derivations. This can be used for dependencies coming from Nixpkgs, or to make one-off customizations of our own derivations.