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The Contiki build system

The Contiki build system is designed to make it easy to compile Contiki applications for different hardware platforms or into a simulation platform by simply supplying different parameters to the make command, without having to edit makefiles or modify the application code.

The file example project in examples/hello-world/ shows how the Contiki build system works. The hello-world.c application can be built into a complete Contiki system by running make in the examples/hello-world/ directory. Running make without parameters will build a Contiki system using the native target. The native target is a special Contiki platform that builds an entire Contiki system as a program that runs on the development system. After compiling the application for the native target it is possible to run the Contiki system with the application by running the file hello-world.native. To compile the application and a Contiki system for the ESB platform the command make TARGET=esb is used. This produces a hello-world.esb file that can be loaded into an ESB board.

To compile the hello-world application into a stand-alone executable that can be loaded into a running Contiki system, the command make hello-world.ce is used. To build an executable file for the ESB platform, make TARGET=esb hello-world.ce is run.

To avoid having to type TARGET= every time make is run, it is possible to run make TARGET=esb savetarget to save the selected target as the default target platform for subsequent invocations of make. A file called containing the currently saved target is saved in the project's directory.

Beside TARGET= there's DEFINES= which allows to set arbitrary variables for the C preprocessor in form of a comma-separated list. Again it is possible to avoid having to re-type i.e. DEFINES=MYTRACE,MYVALUE=4711 by running make TARGET=esb DEFINES=MYTRACE,MYVALUE=4711 savedefines. A file called Makefile.esb.defines is saved in the project's directory containing the currently saved defines for the ESB platform.

Makefiles used in the Contiki build system The Contiki build system is composed of a number of Makefiles. These are:

  • Makefile: the project's makefile, located in the project directory.

  • Makefile.include: the system-wide Contiki makefile, located in the root of the Contiki source tree.

  • Makefile.$(TARGET) (where $(TARGET) is the name of the platform that is currently being built): rules for the specific platform, located in the platform's subdirectory in the platform/ directory.

  • Makefile.$(CPU) (where $(CPU) is the name of the CPU or microcontroller architecture used on the platform for which Contiki is built): rules for the CPU architecture, located in the CPU architecture's subdirectory in the cpu/ directory.

  • Makefile.$(APP) (where $(APP) is the name of an application in the apps/ directory): rules for applications in the apps/ directories. Each application has its own makefile.

The Makefile in the project's directory is intentionally simple. It specifies where the Contiki source code resides in the system and includes the system-wide Makefile, Makefile.include. The project's makefile can also define in the APPS variable a list of applications from the apps/ directory that should be included in the Contiki system. The Makefile used in the hello-world example project looks like this:

CONTIKI_PROJECT = hello-world

CONTIKI = ../..
include $(CONTIKI)/Makefile.include

First, the location of the Contiki source code tree is given by defining the CONTIKI variable. Next, the name of the application is defined. Finally, the system-wide Makefile.include is included.

The Makefile.include contains definitions of the C files of the core Contiki system. Makefile.include always reside in the root of the Contiki source tree. When make is run, Makefile.include includes the Makefile.$(TARGET) as well as all makefiles for the applications in the APPS list (which is specified by the project's Makefile).

Makefile.$(TARGET), which is located in the platform/$(TARGET)/ directory, contains the list of C files that the platform adds to the Contiki system. This list is defined by the CONTIKI_TARGET_SOURCEFILES variable. The Makefile.$(TARGET) also includes the Makefile.$(CPU) from the cpu/$(CPU)/ directory.

The Makefile.$(CPU) typically contains definitions for the C compiler used for the particular CPU. If multiple C compilers are used, the Makefile.$(CPU) can either contain a conditional expression that allows different C compilers to be defined, or it can be completely overridden by the platform specific makefile Makefile.$(TARGET).