7. Contributing to PTXdist

7.1. Development Tree

PTXdist uses Git for version control. The master repository is available at:


A Git web interface is also available.

7.2. How to Contribute

Patches for PTXdist are always welcome. Contributions should be sent to the PTXdist Mailing List. This is usually done with git send-email. If you’re unfamiliar with this workflow, have a look at the intro at git-send-email.io.

All patches must contain a descriptive subject and should, for all non-obvious changes, contain a commit message describing what has changed and why this is necessary.

Each patch accepted into the master repository must be certified to be compatible with PTXdist’s license (GPLv2, see COPYING). To do this you have to sign your patches (or the ones you forward). If you can certify the below:

Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.1

By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:

(a) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I
    have the right to submit it under the open source license
    indicated in the file; or

(b) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the best
    of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate open source
    license and I have the right under that license to submit that
    work with modifications, whether created in whole or in part
    by me, under the same open source license (unless I am
    permitted to submit under a different license), as indicated
    in the file; or

(c) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other
    person who certified (a), (b) or (c) and I have not modified

(d) I understand and agree that this project and the contribution
    are public and that a record of the contribution (including all
    personal information I submit with it, including my sign-off) is
    maintained indefinitely and may be redistributed consistent with
    this project or the open source license(s) involved.

then you just add a line saying:

Signed-off-by: Random J Developer <random@developer.example.org>

using your real name (sorry, no pseudonyms or anonymous contributions) at the end of the patch description.

There are some more usual tags (like Acked-by or Reported-by) which only have informational character and so are not formally specified here. See the Linux kernel documentation for a more complete list.

7.3. PTXdist Packages

While contributions to all parts of PTXdist are welcome, most contributions concern individual packages. Here is a checklist of things to look out for while creating or updating packages. These are not hard requirements, but there should be good reasons for different choices.

Package Builds should be Reproducible

Many packages autodetect which features are available. As a result, the exact features of a package may depend on the build host and the build order of the packages. To avoid this, autodetection must be restricted as much as possible.

For autoconf based packages, the first step is to specify all relevant configure options. The configure_helper.py script can help filter out the unimportant options.

There are also cache variables that can be used to enforce the outcome of autodetection if no option is available:

      $(CROSS_ENV) \

configure_helper.py also supports meson and cmake. Note that the prepare stage for the package must be executed first.

Packages Suboptions

Suboptions for PTXdist packages are useful to make parts of the package optional. However, it is not always easy to decide what should be optional and how to map the build system options to package suboptions. Here are a few guidelines to help with that.

  • Avoid unnecessary suboptions. When in doubt, use the package default or what other distributions use. If the creator of the package does not know what to choose, then the user won’t either.

  • Use suboptions to save disk space. If a feature adds extra dependencies or uses a lot of space then a suboption is useful to save disk space when the feature is not needed.

  • Try to create high-level options. Some packages have very low-level build options with very few useful combinations. Try to distill the high-level features or use-cases and define options for those.

  • Options for new use-cases can always be added later. It’s perfectly acceptable to just disable some unused features when creating a new package. When they are needed, then a new option can be added.

Updating a Package to a new Version

The most common contribution to PTXdist are new versions for existing packages. This is usually quite simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • New versions can have new build system options that should be set for reproducible builds. configure_helper.py can be used to find the new options.

  • There may be patches for the old version. Make sure they are updated as well, or removed if they are no longer needed. Running ptxdist lint will tell you about this.

  • Run ptxdist licensecheck [<pkg>] to make sure that the checksum of pinned-down license files haven’t changed.

    If the license file has changed, look at the difference between the old and the new version of the file (e.g. by comparing the two versioned build folders in platform-nnn/build-target/), and update the package’s _LICENSE variable if necessary. Often the difference is only in the copyright year, but in any case, describe the changes in the license file when sending your patch!


For new packages, the top-level option and any non-obvious suboptions should have a help text. The homepage of a package or the package description from other distributions are usually a good inspiration.

For new packages, the generated templates contain commented-out default sections. These are meant as a helper to simplify creating custom stages. Any remaining default stages must be removed.

All submissions should be checked with ptxdist lint. It does basic sanity checks and finds some typical errors. Old patches that where not updated of removed after a version bump. Unknown PTXCONF_* variables or macros used in menu files. There are often typos or the variables was just removed.

New packages must also have licensing information in the <PKG>_LICENSE and <PKG>_LICENSE_FILES variables. Refer to the section Tracking licensing information in packages for more information.

7.4. Helper Scripts


configure_helper.py can be found in scripts/ in the PTXdist source tree. It should be used to determine which build system options should be specified for a package. Currently, only autoconf and meson based packages are supported.

It provides a diff between two lists of options. These list are generated from the options specified in the package Makefile and from the source tree of the package.

Both autoconf and meson provide several options that are rarely needed. This tool contains a blacklist to filter out these options.

configure_helper.py supports the following command-line options:

-h, --help

Show the help message and exit

-p <pkg>, --pkg <pkg>

The ptxdist package to check

-o <old>, --old-src <old>

The old source directory

-n <new>, --new-src <new>

The new source directory

-s <only, --only-src <only

The only source directory


Sort the options before comparing

-f, --force

Call PTXdist with --force

There are several different ways to configure arguments:

$ configure_helper.py --pkg <pkg>

This will compare the available configure arguments of the current version with those specified in PTXdist

$ configure_helper.py --only-src /path/to/src --pkg <pkg>

This will compare the available configure arguments of the specified source with those specified in PTXdist

$ configure_helper.py --old-src /path/to/old-src --pkg <pkg>
$ configure_helper.py --new-src /path/to/new-src --pkg <pkg>

This will compare the available configure arguments of the current version with those of the specified old/new version

$ configure_helper.py --new-src /path/to/new-src --old-src /path/to/old-src

This will compare the available configure arguments of the old and new versions.

If --pkg is used, then the script must be called in the BSP workspace. The environment variable ptxdist can be used to specify the PTXdist version to use.