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Re: Why is building a cross compiler "out-of-the-box" always broken?

OK, let me recap as I understand the discussion up to now, realizing that this is the gcc list we can really only hope to fix things, if needed, by making changes to the gcc project. Other project will have other priorities.

It sounds like the consensus is that bootstrapping a cross-compiler still requires the use of inhibit_libc and for a Linux target *should* work like this. And, apparently is does work like this for some people for some targets, just not for everyone for everything.

1. Configure the Linux kernel and "make headers_install".

2. Configure and make binutils using the headers produced in step 1.

3. Configure and make a minimal gcc cross-compiler for the target by getting configure to set inhibit_libc and disabling any complicating or conflicting options such as threads and multilib not strictly needed to build the minimal compiler. This compiler should not be generally used because of the restrictions placed on it during the build process.

4. Use the minimal cross-compiler produced in step 3 to configure glibc and do "make install-headers" to get glibc headers. At this point you should be able to delete the minimal cross-compiler, it's job has been done.

5. Make distclean and then configure, make, and install a normal gcc cross-compiler for the target using the glibc headers produced in step 4.

6. Make distclean and then configure, make, and install the complete glibc header and libraries etc. for the target.

7. Use the tools produced in steps 5 and 6 to do whatever cross-compiling project you need them for.

Now for some thoughts about this. I assume we are working with current releases of the kernel and tool chain. There are lots of problems with various older combinations of things, let's not go there please right now.

1. Seems to be a good reliable source of sanitized headers for recent kernels. I know of no problems with the current release.

2. Seems to build and work out-of-the-box using the headers from step 1. I know of no problems with current release.

3. Figuring out the correct combination of --with-newlib, --with-sysroot, and --with-headers (or --without, or =no etc.) to get inhibit_libc set and then figuring out which of the myriad of --with-this-that-and-the-other options can or must be disabled to get a functional minimal compiler is a real pain in the neck. Further more, the make file may try (and fail) to make additional things like crt0 in EXTRA_PARTS= which require the use of "make -k" and/or manual copying of the needed bits and pieces. It does not always work and the failures seem to be in different places on different targets. Maybe the make files need to be modified some depending on the configure setting of inhibit_libc?

If this is *supposed* to work, would it be worth while having a --force-bootstrap or some such option so that configure could force inhibit_libc and then short circuit lots of configuration stuff and disable everything appropriate on a per-target basis so we can reliably generate the minimal comiler needed for the next step? With that, additional places in the source that really need inhibit_libc special casing would be much clearer. Right now it's a question of "wtf caused that to die?", since bootstrapping a cross-compiler is such a black art to most people. Also, should the inhibit_libc hack also disable things like the unwind support that requires kernel headers? That not scrictly libc, but --without-headers sort of assume neither are present. It would also be nice if there were a clear statement about what needs to be where in the headers and/or sysroot directory structures. Or, should be just require some sort of combined tree build in this case? In which case it would be nice if there were a clear statement about what needs to be copied or symlinked from where to where to make it work. I'm a bit out of my depth since I have *not* gotten it to work for many of the cases I have tried, yet. It's not that I'm unwilling to try and contribute patches, but I'd like to know where we are heading, please.

Some people advocate combining steps 3,4,5 by either cribbing a set of headers from someone elses sysroot, cobbling them together by hand, or by fooling glibc configure in to producing them without having a minimal cross compiler. They build their cross-compiler using these headers and then they proceed to step 6. That's great if you are only working with one, common, target where you can expect to find someone to crib from or you have better luck than I did trying to understand and fool glibc configure. In any case that leaves us as the mercy of changes to the glibc package, and the glibc maintainers can reasonably assume the existance of a compiler and may use that compiler to check things like sizeof(long double) etc. so it's fragile at best to rely on. (BTW - why do we have both -m128bit-long-double and -mlong-double-128 options for different targets?) However, it's probably not viable for someone trying to build 20 or so tools chains so they can check for kernel build failure tree wide etc. And besides, it would sure be nice if gcc would build a cross-compiler out-of-the-box if there is no problem with some other part of the tool chain. That does not seem to be the case for all targets at this point.

Once you get to step 6, I expect you are home free, or at least are out of the domain off gcc and need to talk to the glibc folks for any problems that pop up at that point.

So, that's the situation as I see it. How should things work in an ideal world and where do we go from here? Or, are other people happy enough with the current ecosystem and think nothing needs to change?


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