5.4. PTXdist parameter reference

PTXdist is a command line tool, which is basically called as:

$  ptxdist <action [args]> [options]

Setup and Project Actions


this starts a dialog based frontend for those who do not like typing commands. It will gain us access to the most common parameters to configure and build a PTXdist project. This menu handles the actions menuconfig, platformconfig, kernelconfig, select, platform, boardsetup, setup, go and images.

select <config>

this action will select a user land configuration. This step is only required in projects where no selected_ptxconfig file is present. The <config> argument must point to a valid userland configuration file. PTXdist provides this feature to enable the user to maintain more than one userland configuration in the same project. The default location for the configuration file is configs/ptxconfig. PTXdist will use this if no other configuration is selected.

platform <config>

this action will select a platform configuration. This step is only required in projects where no selected_platform file is present. The <config> argument must point to a valid platform configuration file. PTXdist provides this feature to enable the user to maintain more than one platform in one project. The default location for the configuration file is configs/*/platformconfig. PTXdist will use that if the pattern matches exactly one file and no other configuration is selected.

toolchain [<path>]

this action will select the toolchain to use. If no path is specified then PTXdist will guess which toolchain to use based on the settings in the platformconfig. Setting the toolchain is only required if PTXdist cannot find the toolchain automatically or if a different toolchain should be used.

collection <config>

this action will select a collection configuration. This step is optional. The <config> argument must point to a valid collection configuration file.


PTXdist uses some global settings, independent from the project it is working on. These settings belong to users preferences or simply some network settings to permit PTXdist to download required packages.


The same setting as ptxdist setup. Any changes are saved locally in the BSP and overwrite the global settings.


PTXdist based projects can provide information to setup and configure the target automatically. This action lets the user setup the environment specific settings like the network IP address and so on.


start the menu to configure the project’s root filesystem. This is in respect to userland only. It’s the main menu to select which applications and libraries should be built into the target’s root filesystem.

menuconfig platform

this action starts the menu to configure the currently selected platform. As these are architecture and target specific settings, it configures the toolchain, the kernel and a bootloader (but no userland components). The short form for this action is platformconfig.

menuconfig kernel

start the menu to configure the platform’s kernel. As a project can support more than one platform, this will configure the currently selected platform. The short form for this action is kernelconfig.

menuconfig barebox

this action starts the configure menu for the selected bootloader. It depends on the platform settings which bootloader is enabled and to be used as an argument to the menuconfig action parameter. As a project can support more than one platform, this will configure the bootloader of the currently selected platform.

nconfig [<component>]

this action provides a slightly different user experience with the same functionality as menuconfig. It can be used instead of menuconfig for all the component described above.

oldconfig [<component>], allmodconfig [<component>], allyesconfig [<component>], allnoconfig [<component>], alldefconfig [<component>], randconfig [<component>]

this action will run the corresponding kconfig action for the specified component. oldconfig will prompt for all new options. allmodconfig, allyesconfig, allnoconfig or alldefconfig will set all options to ‘m’, ‘y’, ‘n’, or their default values respectively. randconfig will randomize the options. The KCONFIG_ALLCONFIG and KCONFIG_SEED environment variables can be used as described in the Linux kernel documentation.


migrate the configuration files from a previous PTXdist version. This will run oldconfig and oldconfig platform to prompt for all new options.

Build Actions


this action will build all enabled packages in the current project configurations (platform and userland). It will also rebuild reconfigured packages (if any) or build additional packages if they were enabled meanwhile. If enabled, this step also builds the kernel and bootloader images.


this action will download the sources for all packages. This is useful to download everything at once. Afterwards the packages can be built without internet access.


if using pre-built archives is enabled, this action will make sure that all of them exist locally, possibly by downloading them from the configured mirror server.

urlcheck [<package>]

this action will check if the URL for the package (or all packages) still works. It does not download the whole file, so this is relatively fast, but may not be 100% correct in all cases.

get <package>, extract <package>, prepare <package>, compile <package>, install <package>, targetinstall <package>

these actions will build the corresponding stage for the specified package including all previous stages and other dependencies. Multiple packages can be specified.

drop <package>.<stage>

this action will ‘drop’ the specified stage without removing any other files. Subsequent actions depending on this stage will rebuild it. This is useful during development to rebuild a package without deleting the sources. Use clean <package> for a full rebuild of the package.


most of the time this is the last step to get the required files and/or images for the target. It creates filesystems or device images to be used in conjunction with the target’s filesystem media. The result can be found in the images/ directory of the project or the platform directory.

If necessary, images also builds all required stages first, so it can be used instead of go.

image <image>

build the specified image. The file name in images/ is used to identify the image. This is basically the same as images but builds just one image.

Clean Actions


the clean action will remove all generated files: all build, packages and root filesystem directories. Only the selected configuration files are left untouched. This is a way to start a fresh build cycle.

clean root

this action will only clean the image packages and the root filesystem directories. All the build directories are left untouched. After using this action, the next go action will regenerate all opkg archives from the already built packages as well as the root filesystem directories. The clean root and go action is useful if the targetinstall stage for all packages should run again.

clean target

this action will call the clean action for each target package, and also clean the root file system afterwards. This can be useful if you want to rebuild the target file system from scratch, without throwing away the already built host and cross packages.

clean <package>

this action will only clean the dedicated <package>. It will remove its build directory and all installed files from the corresponding sysroot directory. Multiple packages can be specified.


the distclean action will remove all files that are not part of the main project. It removes all generated files and directories like the clean action, and also the created links in any platform and/or select action.

Misc Actions


print out the PTXdist version.

test <testname>

run tests

newpackage <type>

create a new PTXdist package. For most package types, this will create <pkg>.make and <pkg>.in files in rules/. Use newpackage help for a list of available package types.


run a userspace NFS server and export the nfsroot (refer to section Using a userland NFS Server for the Target for further details).


run the cross gdb from the toolchain. The sysroot and other search paths are configured to ensure that gdb finds all available debug files.


show some basic information about the BSP. The currently used configs, all layers, the images that are build, etc.

package-info <pkg>

show some basic information about the package. This includes the version, URL and various paths and directories. The paths for menu and rule file are shown as well, so this can be used to verify that the correct version of these files are used.


create a yaml report that describes the BSP and all packages. The data is similar to what bsp-info and package-info provide but combined into a machine readable format.

To run this command, the BSP must be configured (e.g. the toolchain must be available), but it works without building packages.

The expected format of the yaml file is described in schema scripts/bsp-report-schema.yaml in the PTXdist source tree. There is also a simple helper script scripts/validate-bsp-report-schema.py that can be used to validate the yaml file.

The result is found in <platform-dir>/release/fast-bsp-report.yaml.


create a yaml report much like fast-bsp-report. It contains some additional data, such as the list of ipkgs created by a package. The license information is validated and expanded, so this can be used to create a custom license report.

When the report is generated all packages will be built unless they are already built.

The result is found in <platform-dir>/release/full-bsp-report.yaml.

print <var>

print the contents of a variable. It will first look for a shell variable with the given name. If none exists, it will run make on all selected package rules, determine if a variable with the given name is known to make, and if so, print it. For make variables, <var> can contain ‘%’. In this case, all variables that match the pattern are printed. If the <var> is undefined, then an error will be generated unless ‘-k’ is used. In that case an empty value is returned.

printnext <var>

assume that the contents of <var> is another variable and print the contents of this variable. Shell variables are currently not checked here. All other rules for print apply.

licensecheck [<package>]

For the specified package (or all selected packages), check the MD5 sums of license files.


check the BSP and PTXdist for all kinds of issues. These are not checks for things that cause build errors. Instead the checks look for inconsistencies that may cause hidden problems.


print a list of all selected packages. This list does not include the host and cross tools.

local-src <pkg> [<directory>]

overwrite a package source with a locally provided directory containing the source code. Not specifying the directory will undo the change. Relative paths are converted to absolute paths relative to the workspace.


enter a PTXdist environment bash shell.

bash <cmd> [args...]

execute <cmd> in PTXdist environment.

make <target>

build specified make target in PTXdist.

export_src <target-dir>

export all source archives needed for this project to <target-dir>.


build HTML documentation for a BSP. The output is written to Documentation/html/index.html

Overwrite defaults

These options can be used to overwrite default settings. They can be useful when working with multiple configurations or platforms in a single project.


use the specified ptxconfig file instead of the selected default configuration file.


use specified platformconfig file instead of the selected default configuration file.


use specified collectionconfig file instead of the selected configuration file.


use specified toolchain instead of the selected or default toolchain.


allow downloading, even if disabled by setup


--force, -f

use this option to overwrite various sanity checks. Only use this option if you really know what you are doing!

--debug, -d

print out additional info (like make decisions)

--quiet, -q

suppress output, show only stderr

--verbose, -v

be more verbose, print command before execute them

--output-sync, --no-output-sync

enable or disable output synchronization. By default output synchronization is only enabled for quiet builds. Output synchronization is implemented by the make --output-sync option. For building packages in parallel, --output-sync=recurse is used. For individual make commands in the build stages --output-sync=target is used. This means that the output for each individual make target and each build stage is grouped together.

Note: If output synchronization is enabled, then the output for each build stage is collected by make and won’t be visible until the build stage is completed. As a result, there will be long periods of time with no visible progress.


show some progress information in the form of completed/total build stages. This is only shown if --quiet is enabled as well. Note that this adds some extra overhead at the beginning, so it will take some time until the first build stage starts.

--j-intern=<n>, -ji<n>

set number of parallel jobs within packages. PTXdist will use this number for example when calling make during the compile stage. The default is 2x the number of CPUs.

--j-extern=<n>, -je<n>

set number of packages to be built in parallel. The default is 1. Use -j instead of this. It has the same goal and performs better.


set the global number of parallel jobs. This is basically a more intelligent combination of -je and -ji. A single package rarely uses all the available CPUs. Usually only the compile stage can use more than one CPU and even then there are often idle CPUs. With the global job pool, tasks from multiple packages can be executed in parallel without overloading the system.

Note: Because of the parallel execution, the output is chaotic and not very useful. Use this in combination with -q and only to speed up building for projects that are known to build without errors.

--load-average=<n>, -l<n>

try to limit load to <n>. This is used for the equivalent make option.

--nice=<n>, -n<n>

run with reduced scheduling priority (i.e. nice). The default is 10.


avoid rebuilding packages. By default, if a package is rebuilt, then all packages that depend on it are also rebuilt. This happens because PTXdist cannot know if rebuilding is functionally necessary for the depending packages. By specifying --dirty, depending packages will not be rebuilt if their dependencies were rebuilt. Also, changes to config options, rule and menu file or changed patches will not trigger a rebuild either.

To trigger a rebuild, the relevant stage of a package must be dropped.

--keep-going, -k

keep going. Continue to build as much as possible after an error.


use git to apply patches


automatically switch to the correct PTXdist version. This will look for the correct PTXdist version in the ptxconfig file and execute it if it does not match the current version.


include a Python Virtual Environment. The given path must contain a bin/activate shell script.