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Buildroot based Mistify-OS

Buildroot, another popular and feature rich tool for building embedded Linux systems, is used to build the kernel and root file system of the Mistify-OS project. The buildmistify script encapsulates much of the process of building a kernel and initrd which can be installed on the boot server and booted on the target using the PXE protocol.

To build the OS, simply run the buildmistify script with no parameters. The script begins by downloading the Buildroot build environment and finishes with completed images. When complete the buildmistify script displays the location of the images. The images can then be uploaded to the boot server for testing.

btw: The resulting images have been proven and are currently running on a Dell R620.

Latest developments

External toolchain

The system build now uses an external toolchain built from source using crosstool-NG. This serves two purposes. One, the time to rebuild Mistify-OS is reduced once the external toolchain has been built and two, the toolchain can be better optimized for Mistify-OS.


Mistify-OS has been updated to use systemd.


GO projects can now be built using buildmistify. The compiler is built from source to allow for situations where the host architecture is different from the target architecture.


The mistify-agent is now built under Buildroot and runs on the test box.


QEMU/KVM and libvirt are now available.

Release notes

Release notes for the various releases can be found on the project wiki.

Verification testing

A test suite for verifying Mistify-OS based upon Robot Framework is now available. This is extremely basic at the moment but will improve over time. The associated scripts are contained in the test directory. Use the script testmistify to execute test suites.

Sample Sub-Agent

A sample sub-agent written in GO is provided which can serve as a starting point for your sub-agent development. This sub-agent is contained in the subagents directory. Building the sub-agent is supported using the buildgopackage script and an example test script for testing the sub-agent in a KVM based virtual machine is provided in test/testcases/MistifyOSInVm.robot. The test suite referencing this test script is test/testsuites/vmtests.

More information about developing Mistify-OS subagents can be found in the mistify-agent examples repository.

The buildmistify script approach

One of the primary reasons for using the buildmistify script is that it serves to maintain isolation of the Mistify-OS specific components from the main Buildroot tree. This is important for two reasons. One, it places all of the Mistify-OS related files in a single tree and two, it simplifies development because of not having to navigate the Buildroot tree in order to find Mistify-OS related files.

The buildmistify script also simplifies maintenance of configuration files for Buildroot, the Linux kernel and for Busybox. It's strongly recommended that buildmistify be used when changing configurations. The reason for this is the script handles some corner cases which can lead to a loss of synchronization between your project and what Buildroot is actually using. This is particularly true when doing fresh, ground up, builds. To support this the buildmistify script traps the configuration targets menuconfig, linux-menuconfig and, busybox-menuconfig. WARNING: Do not manually edit the config files or some strange and unexpected results could occur. Always use buildmistify when reconfiguring your project for your target hardware.

The buildmistify script uses Buildroot features to maintain the Mistify-OS sources and builds outside the Buildroot tree. This simplifies updates of Buildroot when necessary. Read the Building out-of-tree and Keeping customizations outside of Buildroot sections of the Buildroot manual for more information.

Building Mistify-OS

Read this wiki page for instructions for getting started building Mistify-OS from source.

Container Based Builds

A special test suite named buildtests is provided to support building Mistify-OS inside an lxc container. Another testsuite named containertests can help creating and properly provisioning an lxc based container for building Mistify-OS. Currently, this supports only 64 bit containers running an Ubuntu 14.04 (trusty) distribution.

Help options

The buildmistify script supports two forms of help. Using the --help option will display the usage for buildmistify. On the other hand, help is treated as a target and passed to Buildroot which will then display its help information.

All other scripts support the --help option and provide a fairly comprehensive description of how to use the scripts and what the various options are.

The jenkins Script

If you plan to use Jenkins for CI you might find the jenkins script useful. It's designed to trigger a build on a Jenkins server for the current repository branch. Of course it requires a corresponding configuration of a Jenkins job to accept the parameters passed by the jenkins script. You can use the --dryrun option to see what the commnand to the Jenkins server will be and use that to configure the options for the job on the Jenkins server.

Booting your test box

An example:

This example assumes two boxes. One box serves as the boot server configured to support DHCP and the PXE boot protocol. The other box serves as the target. Change the IP addresses to match your network environment.

The boot server at IP: serves the boot files to the target machine. The boot process itself uses ipxe. The ipxe configuration resides on the server in the directory /var/www/html.

Currently the ipxe configuration supports booting an Ubuntu based system to some boxes and a Buildroot based build to a single test box. The DHCP server is also configured to set this test box IP to

The Ethernet port on the test box uses two MAC addresses. The first is used by ipxe to which the DHCP assigns the IP address The second MAC address is used by the Linux environment. This second MAC address is the MAC address to which the DHCP server assigns the IP address

The netboot.ipxe config file tests for the boot IP address of and when true branches to a Buildroot specific section which specifies the files *initrd.buildroot" and *bzImage.buildroot". The ipxe.exe now running on the target box (specified in the dhcpd config file) reads this config and then downloads the appropriate images from the server. After the download completes the RAM disk is initialized and control is passed to the downloaded kernel. It's all Linux from that point on.

Once Linux has been booted it should be possible to ssh to the box using the IP For now only the "root" user is supported. For development purposes the root password is LetMeIn2. (e.g. ssh root@



At this time only the Dell R620 has been used as a target platform. The build needs to be verified to work for a range of platforms. NOTE: At this time only x86_64 based architectures are supported.

Proper user configuration

At the moment the Buildroot built bootable image only supports the root user. A non-superuser account is needed and the root console login disabled for security reasons. The user needs to have sudo capability so that root tasks can be performed when necessary.

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