1.12. Devicetree support

Flattened Device Tree (FDT) is a data structure for describing the hardware on a system. On an increasing number of boards, both barebox and the Linux kernel can probe their devices directly from devicetrees. barebox needs the devicetree compiled into the binary. The kernel usually does not have a devicetree compiled in; instead, the kernel expects to be passed a devicetree from the bootloader.

From a bootloader’s point of view, using devicetrees has the advantage that the same devicetree can be used by both the bootloader and the kernel; this drastically reduces porting effort since the devicetree has to be written only once (and with luck somebody has already written a devicetree for the kernel). Having barebox consult a devicetree is highly recommended for new projects.

1.12.1. The internal devicetree

The devicetree consulted by barebox plays a special role. It is referred to as the “internal devicetree.” The barebox devicetree commands work on this devicetree. The devicetree source (DTS) files are kept in sync with the kernel DTS files. As the FDT files are meant to be backward compatible, it should always be possible to start a kernel with the barebox internal devicetree. However, since the barebox devicetree may not be complete or contain bugs it is always possible to start the kernel with a devicetree different from the one used by barebox. If a device has been probed from the devicetree then using the devinfo - show information about devices command on it will show the corresponding devicetree node:

barebox@Phytec pcm970:/ devinfo 10002000.wdog
  num: 0
  name: /soc/aipi@10000000/wdog@10002000
  start: 0x10002000
  size: 0x00001000
Driver: imx-watchdog
Bus: platform
Device node: /soc/aipi@10000000/wdog@10002000
wdog@10002000 {
        compatible = "fsl,imx27-wdt", "fsl,imx21-wdt";
        reg = <0x10002000 0x1000>;
        interrupts = <0x1b>;
        clocks = <0x1 0x4a>;

1.12.2. Devicetree commands

barebox has commands to show and manipulate devicetrees. These commands always work on the internal devicetree. It is possible to add/remove nodes using the of_node - create/delete nodes in the device tree command and to add/change/remove properties using the of_property - handle device tree properties command. To dump devicetrees on the console use the of_dump - dump devicetree nodes command.

# dump the whole devicetree

# dump node of_dump /soc/nand@d8000000/
of_dump /soc/nand@d8000000/

# create a new node
of_node -c /chosen/mynode

# add a property to it
of_property -s /chosen/mynode/ myproperty myvalue

It is important to know that these commands always work on the internal devicetree. If you modify the internal devicetree to influence the behaviour of a kernel booted later, make sure that you start the kernel with the internal devicetree (i.e. don’t pass a devicetree to the bootm - boot an application image command). If you wish to use another devicetree than the internal devicetree for starting the kernel, you can exchange the internal devicetree during runtime using the oftree - handle device trees command:

oftree -f
oftree -l /new/dtb