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build tools


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Table of contents


What this project does?

  • builds custom Debian based Linux system optimized for supported single board computers,
  • covers root filesystem generation, kernel image compilation and bootloader compilation,
  • maintains low-level control software for a selection of hardware,
  • provides a consistent user experience by keeping system standards across different SBC platforms.


What do you need to get started?

  • x64 machine with at least 2GB of memory and ~35GB of disk space for the VM, container or native OS,
  • Ubuntu Focal 20.04 x64 for native building or any Docker capable x64 Linux for containerised,
  • superuser rights (configured sudo or root access).

How to build an image or a kernel?

apt-get -y install git
git clone
cd build

Armbian logo

  • The script will take care about preparing the workspace like installing necessary dependencies and downloading sources and tools.
  • It guides through the process until either a kernel package set or a readyo-to-image for a sdcard is created.

Build parameter examples

Show work in progress areas in interactive mode:

./ EXPERT="yes"

Run build tools inside Docker container:

./ docker

Build minimal CLI Debian buster based image for Odroid XU4. Use modern kernel and write image to the SD card:

./ BOARD="odroidxu4" BRANCH="current" RELEASE="buster" CARD_DEVICE="/dev/sda" \

Build parameters, advanced build options, user defined configuration, build with Docker?

Compare with industry standards

Check similarity, advantages and disadvantages compared with leading industry standard build software.

Function Armbian Yocto Buildroot
Target general purpose embedded embedded / IOT
U-boot and kernel compiled from sources compiled from sources compiled from sources
Board support maintenance   complete outside outside
Root file system Debian or Ubuntu based custom custom
Package manager APT any none
Configurability limited large large
Initramfs support yes yes yes
Getting started quick very slow slow
Cross compilation yes yes yes

Where to download prebuilt images?

Armbian releases quarterly at the end of February, May, August, November. You are welcome to propose changes to our default images build list.

Additional information

Build tools overview

├── cache                                Work / cache directory
│   ├── rootfs                           Compressed vanilla Debian and Ubuntu rootfilesystem cache
│   ├── sources                          Kernel, u-boot and various drivers sources. Mainly C code
│   ├── toolchains                       External cross compilers from Linaro™ or ARM™
├── config                               Packages repository configurations
│   ├── targets.conf                     Board build target configuration
│   ├── boards                           Board configurations
│   ├── bootenv                          Initial boot loaders environments per family
│   ├── bootscripts                      Initial Boot loaders scripts per family
│   ├── kernel                           Kernel build configurations per family
│   ├── sources                          Kernel and u-boot sources locations and scripts
│   ├── templates                        User configuration templates which populate userpatches
│   └── torrents                         External compiler and rootfs cache torrents
├── lib                                  Main build tools libraries
├── output                               Build artifact
│   └── deb                              Deb packages
│   └── images                           Bootable images - RAW or compressed
│   └── debug                            Patch and build logs
│   └── config                           Kernel configuration export location
│   └── patch                            Created patches location
├── packages                             Support scripts, binary blobs, packages
│   ├── blobs                            Wallpapers, various configs, closed source bootloaders
│   ├── bsp                              Scripts and configs overlay for rootfs
│   └── extras-buildpkgs                 Optional compilation and packaging engine
├── patch                                Collection of patches
│   ├── atf                              ARM trusted firmware
│   ├── kernel                           Linux kernel patches
|   |   └── family-branch                Per kernel family and branch
│   ├── misc                             Linux kernel packaging patches
│   └── u-boot                           Universal boot loader patches
|       ├── u-boot-board                 For specific board
|       └── u-boot-family                For entire kernel family
└── userpatches                          User: configuration patching area
    ├── lib.config                       User: tools common config/override file
    ├── config-default.conf              User: default user config file
    ├──               User: script will execute just before closing the image
    ├── atf                              User: ARM trusted firmware
    ├── kernel                           User: Linux kernel per kernel family
    ├── misc                             User: various
    └── u-boot                           User: universal boot loader patches






Most of the project is sponsored with a work done by volunteer collaborators, while some part of the project costs are being covered by the industry. We would not be able to get this far without their help.

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