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The GNU MCU Eclipse ARM Embedded GCC build procedures
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scripts container-gcc: fix last/final inconsistency Feb 8, 2019
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LICENSE first functional macOS build Feb 8, 2018 README-*.md: prepare release Feb 1, 2019 CHANGELOG: update release date to 02.02 Feb 2, 2019 gcc-8.2.1.patch extended to cover paths with spaces Feb 13, 2019 README-*.md: prepare release Feb 1, 2019

GNU MCU Eclipse ARM Embedded GCC - the build scripts

These are the scripts and additional files required to build the GNU MCU Eclipse ARM Embedded GCC.


The prerequisites are common to all binary builds. Please follow the instructions in the separate Prerequisites for building binaries page and return when ready.

Download the build scripts repo

The build script is available from GitHub and can be viewed online.

To download it, clone the gnu-mcu-eclipse/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build Git repo, including submodules.

$ rm -rf ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git
$ git clone --recurse-submodules \

Check for newer submodule

The script uses a submodule helper. If you cloned the repo previously, with SourceTree, check if there are any newer commits for the submodule.

Check the script

The script creates a temporary build Work/arm-none-eabi-gcc-${version} folder in the user home. Although not recommended, if for any reasons you need to change this, you can redefine WORK_FOLDER_PATH variable before invoking the script.

There are many other settings that can be redefined via environment variables. If necessary, place them in a file and pass it via --env-file. This file is either passed to Docker or sourced to shell. The Docker syntax is not identical to shell, so some files may not be accepted by bash.

Preload the Docker images

Docker does not require to explicitly download new images, but does this automatically at first use.

However, since the images used for this build are relatively large, it is recommended to load them explicitly before starting the build:

$ bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ preload-images

The result should look similar to:

$ docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
ilegeul/centos32    6-xbb-v1            f695dd6cb46e        2 weeks ago         2.92GB
ilegeul/centos      6-xbb-v1            294dd5ee82f3        2 weeks ago         3.09GB
hello-world         latest              f2a91732366c        2 months ago        1.85kB

Remove unused Docker space

This is mostly useful after failed builds, during development, when dangling images may be left by Docker.

To remove unused files:

$ docker system prune --force

Update git repos

The GNU MCU Eclipse ARM Embedded GCC distribution follows the official ARM distributions, and it is planned to make a new release after each future ARM release.

Currently the build procedure uses the Source Invariant archive and the configure options are the same as in the ARM build scripts.

Prepare release

To prepare a new release:

  • download the new Source Invariant archive
  • copy/paste the files and override the arm-gcc-original-scripts.git files (except the PDF);
  • commit with a message like 8-2018-q4-major; also add a tag;
  • check differences from the previous version;
  • determine the GCC version (like 7.2.1) and update the scripts/VERSION file; the format is 7.2.1-1.1. The fourth digit is the number of the ARM release of the same GCC version, and the fifth digit is the GNU MCU Eclipse release number of this version.
  • add a new set of definitions in the scripts/, with the versions of various components;
  • if newer libraries are used, check if they are available from the local git cache project.

Update CHANGELOG.txt

Check arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/CHANGELOG.txt and add the new release.

Update the

There should be no changes, but better check.


Although it is perfectly possible to build all binaries in a single step on a macOS system, due to Docker specifics, it is faster to build the GNU/Linux and Windows binaries on a GNU/Linux system and the macOS binary separately.

Build the GNU/Linux and Windows binaries

The current platform for GNU/Linux and Windows production builds is an Ubuntu 17.10 VirtualBox image running on a macMini with 16 GB of RAM and a fast SSD.

$ ssh ilg@ilg-ud17-docker.local

If the virtual machine runs on a macOS, to be sure it does not go to sleep, run a caffeinate bash.

Before starting a multi-platform build, check if Docker is started:

$ docker info

To build both the 32/64-bit Windows and GNU/Linux versions, use --all; to build selectively, use --linux64 --win64 or --linux32 --win32 (GNU/Linux can be built alone; Windows also requires the GNU/Linux build).

$ screen bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --all

Use Ctrl-a Ctrl-d to detach (Ctrl-a ? for help), and screen -r to reconnect.

To build one of the previous versions:

$ RELEASE_VERSION=6.3.1-1.1 bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --all
$ RELEASE_VERSION=7.2.1-1.1 bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --all
$ RELEASE_VERSION=8.2.1-1.3 bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --all

Several hours later, the output of the build script is a set of 4 files and their SHA signatures, created in the deploy folder:

$ ls -l deploy
total 350108
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg  61981364 Apr  1 08:27 gnu-mcu-eclipse-arm-none-eabi-gcc-7.2.1-1.1-20180401-0515-centos32.tar.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg       140 Apr  1 08:27 gnu-mcu-eclipse-arm-none-eabi-gcc-7.2.1-1.1-20180401-0515-centos32.tar.xz.sha
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg  61144048 Apr  1 08:19 gnu-mcu-eclipse-arm-none-eabi-gcc-7.2.1-1.1-20180401-0515-centos64.tar.xz
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg       140 Apr  1 08:19 gnu-mcu-eclipse-arm-none-eabi-gcc-7.2.1-1.1-20180401-0515-centos64.tar.xz.sha
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg 112105889 Apr  1 08:29
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg       134 Apr  1 08:29
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg 123181226 Apr  1 08:21
-rw-r--r-- 1 ilg ilg       134 Apr  1 08:21

To copy the files from the build machine to the current development machine, open the deploy folder in a terminal and use scp:

$ cd deploy
$ scp * ilg@ilg-mbp.local:Downloads/gme-binaries/arm

Build the macOS binary

The current platform for macOS production builds is a macOS 10.10.5 VirtualBox image running on the same macMini with 16 GB of RAM and a fast SSD.

$ ssh ilg@ilg-mac-xbb.local

To build the latest macOS version, with the same timestamp as the previous build:

$ screen caffeinate bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --osx --date YYYYMMDD-HHMM

Use Ctrl-a Ctrl-d to detach (Ctrl-a ? for help), and screen -r to reconnect.

To build one of the previous macOS versions:

$ RELEASE_VERSION=6.3.1-1.1 caffeinate bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --osx --date YYYYMMDD-HHMM
$ RELEASE_VERSION=7.2.1-1.1 caffeinate bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --osx --date YYYYMMDD-HHMM
$ RELEASE_VERSION=8.2.1-1.3 caffeinate bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ --osx --date YYYYMMDD-HHMM

For consistency reasons, the date should be the same as the GNU/Linux and Windows builds.

Several hours later, the output of the build script is a compressed archive and its SHA signature, created in the deploy folder:

$ ls -l deploy
total 216064
-rw-r--r--  1 ilg  staff  110620198 Jul 24 16:35 gnu-mcu-eclipse-arm-none-eabi-gcc-7.3.1-1.1-20180724-0637-macos.tgz
-rw-r--r--  1 ilg  staff        134 Jul 24 16:35 gnu-mcu-eclipse-arm-none-eabi-gcc-7.3.1-1.1-20180724-0637-macos.tgz.sha

To copy the files from the build machine to the current development machine, open the deploy folder in a terminal and use scp:

$ cd deploy
$ scp * ilg@ilg-mbp.local:Downloads/gme-binaries/arm

Subsequent runs

Separate platform specific builds

Instead of --all, you can use any combination of:

--win32 --win64 --linux32 --linux64

Please note that, due to the specifics of the GCC build process, the Windows build requires the corresponding GNU/Linux build, so --win32 alone is equivalent to --linux32 --win32 and --win64 alone is equivalent to --linux64 --win64.


To remove most build files, use:

$ bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ clean

To also remove the repository and the output files, use:

$ bash ~/Downloads/arm-none-eabi-gcc-build.git/scripts/ cleanall

For production builds it is recommended to completely remove the build folder.


For performance reasons, the actual build folders are internal to each Docker run, and are not persistent. This gives the best speed, but has the disadvantage that interrupted builds cannot be resumed.

For development builds, it is possible to define the build folders in the host file system, and resume an interrupted build.


For development builds, it is also possible to create everything with -g -O0 and be able to run debug sessions.

Interrupted builds

The Docker scripts run with root privileges. This is generally not a problem, since at the end of the script the output files are reassigned to the actual user.

However, for an interrupted build, this step is skipped, and files in the install folder will remain owned by root. Thus, before removing the build folder, it might be necessary to run a recursive chown.


The procedure to install GNU MCU Eclipse ARM Embedded GCC is platform specific, but relatively straight forward (a .zip archive on Windows, a compressed tar archive on macOS and GNU/Linux).

A portable method is to use xpm:

$ xpm install --global @gnu-mcu-eclipse/arm-none-eabi-gcc

More details are available on the How to install the ARM toolchain? page.

After install, the package should create a structure like this (only the first two depth levels are shown):

$ tree -L 2 /Users/ilg/opt/gnu-mcu-eclipse/arm-none-eabi-gcc/8.2.1-1.1-20190102-1122 
├── arm-none-eabi
│   ├── bin
│   ├── include
│   ├── lib
│   └── share
├── bin
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-addr2line
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-ar
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-as
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-c++
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-c++filt
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-cpp
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-elfedit
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-g++
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcc
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcc-8.2.1
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcc-ar
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcc-nm
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcc-ranlib
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcov
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcov-dump
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gcov-tool
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gdb
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gdb-add-index
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gdb-add-index-py
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gdb-py
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-gprof
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-ld
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-ld.bfd
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-nm
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-objcopy
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-objdump
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-ranlib
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-readelf
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-size
│   ├── arm-none-eabi-strings
│   └── arm-none-eabi-strip
├── gnu-mcu-eclipse
│   ├── CHANGELOG.txt
│   ├── arm-readme.txt
│   ├── arm-release.txt
│   ├── licenses
│   ├── patches
│   └── scripts
├── include
│   └── gdb
├── lib
│   ├── gcc
│   ├──
│   └── ->
├── libexec
│   └── gcc
└── share
    ├── doc
    └── gcc-arm-none-eabi

19 directories, 37 files

No other files are installed in any system folders or other locations.


The binaries are distributed as portable archives; thus they do not need to run a setup and do not require an uninstall.


A simple test is performed by the script at the end, by launching the executable to check if all shared/dynamic libraries are correctly used.

For a true test you need to first install the package and then run the program from the final location. For example on macOS the output should look like:

$ /Users/ilg/Library/xPacks/\@gnu-mcu-eclipse/arm-none-eabi-gcc/7.2.1-1.1/.content/bin/arm-none-eabi-gcc --version
arm-none-eabi-gcc (GNU MCU Eclipse ARM Embedded GCC, 64-bit) 7.2.1 20170904 (release) [ARM/embedded-7-branch revision 255204]

More build details

The build process is split into several scripts. The build starts on the host, with, which runs several times, once for each target, in one of the two docker containers. Both scripts include several other helper scripts. The entire process is quite complex, and an attempt to explain its functionality in a few words would not be realistic. Thus, the authoritative source of details remains the source code.

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