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Overview of Yocto

The Yocto Project is an open source collaboration project that provides templates, tools and methods to help create custom Linux-based systems for embedded products. It is an open source project initiated by the Linux Foundation in 2010. The Yocto Project uses the OpenEmbedded build system to construct complete Linux images.

The core components of the Yocto Project are:

  • BitBake, the build engine is a task scheduler, like make. It interprets configuration files and recipes (also called metadata) to perform a set of tasks, to download, configure and build specified packages and filesystem images.
  • OpenEmbedded-Core, a set of base layers. It is a set of recipes, layers and classes which are shared between all OpenEmbedded based systems. Recipes have a specific syntax and describe how to fetch, configure, compile and package applications and images. Layers are sets of recipes, matching a common purpose. Multiple layers are used within a same distribution, depending on the requirements.


BitBake is the task executor and scheduler used by the OpenEmbedded build system to build images. BitBake is a generic task execution engine that allows shell and Python tasks to be run efficiently and in parallel while working within complex inter-task dependency constraints. BitBake stores the output of each task in a directory, the shared state cache. Its location is controlled by the SSTATE_DIR variable. This cache is use to speed up compilation.

bitbake [options] [recipename/target ...]

Bitbake executes all the layers starting with a prefix ‘meta’. 
Meta-layer contains configuration, recipes, classes, patches.
  • Configuration (*.conf) files: global definition of variables
  • Classes (*.bbclass): encapsulation and inheritance of build logic, packaging etc.
  • Recipes (*.bb, *.bbappend): logical units of software/Images to build
Bitbake parses the build classes, config files, and recipes. For every task, a shell script on-the-fly is created and executed. 

build directory contains following sub directories.

  • conf                            Configuration files - image specific and layer configuration.
  • downloads                 This folder stores the downloaded upstream tarballs of the packages used in the builds, facilitating fast rebuilds. If the content of this folder is deleted, the builds will go and re fetch the source tars again.
  • sstate-cache               Shared state cache, it is the local prebuilt store used by all builds. It will be populated when you do the builds. It is important to keep this directory safe for sstate reuse.
  • tmp                             Holds all the build.
  • tmp/buildstats            Build statistics for all packages built (CPU usage, elapsed time, host, timestamps).
  • tmp/deploy                 Final output of the build.
  • tmp/deploy/images    Contains the complete images built by the Open Embedded build system. These images are used to flash the target.
  • tmp/work                    Set of specific work directories, split by architecture. They are used to unpack, configure and build the packages. Contains the patched sources, generated objects and logs.
  • tmp/sysroots               Shared libraries and headers used to compile packages for the target but also for the host.


Recipes are essentially a set of instructions for building packages. A recipe describes where you get source code and which patches to apply. Recipes describe dependencies for libraries or for other recipes, and they also contain configuration and compilation options. Recipes contain the logical unit of execution, the software to build, the images to build, and use the .bb file extension.

The recipes are parsed by the BitBake build engine. The format of a recipe file name is <package-name>_<version>.bb

A recipe contains configuration variables: name, license, dependencies, path to retrieve the source code etc. It also contains functions that can be run (fetch, configure, compile. . .), called tasks.

Recipe provides:

  • Descriptive information about the package.
  • Existing dependencies (both build and runtime dependencies)
  • DEPENDS & RDEPENDS variables holds the build & runtime dependencies e.g.
  • Where the source code resides and how to fetch it: SRC_URI variable holds the URL path to fetch
  • The version of the recipe
  • Whether the source code requires any patches, where to find them, and how to apply them
  • How to configure and compile the source code
  • Where on the target machine to install the package or packages created

Append Files

Files that append build information to a recipe file. Append files are known as BitBake append files and .bbappend files. The OpenEmbedded build system expects every append file to have a corresponding recipe (.bb) file. Furthermore, the append file and corresponding recipe file must use the same root filename. The filenames can differ only in the file type suffix used (e.g. formfactor_0.0.bb and formfactor_0.0.bbappend).

Information in append files overrides the information in the similarly-named recipe file.


Patches can be applied to recipe files. Patch files should be having extension *.patch. Place the patch file in subdirectory of recipe named (component) folder.  The subdirectory should be preferably named as that of component or as ‘files’. Add the below line to the recipe file

SRC_URI += file://filename.patch/

Below is the variable to mention the location of patch.


RDK Yocto layer structure

RDK yocto layer structure

MSO specific recipes and configuration to be placed in

  • meta-rdk-<mso-name>

OEM specific recipes and configuration to be placed in

  • meta-rdk-oem-<oem-name>-<soc-name>

SoC specific recipes and configuration to be placed in

  • meta-rdk-soc-<soc-name>

RDKB Meta-layers


  • Distribution policies(modeled from Poky)
  • Common RDK-B component recipes


  • Common RDK-B component recipe append files & patches
  • Overrides the meta-rdk recipes


  • Boards support layer
  • Contains qemux86hyb and qemux86mc machines
  • Reference for porting
  • Create meta-rdk-bsp delta layers for existing BSPs


  • Contains RDK-B component recipe append files & patches, which are required for RDK-B PC emulator

meta-rdk-broadband contains following folders:

  • conf
  • recipes-ccsp
  • recipes-common
  • recipes-extended
  • recipes-rdkb
  • recipes-support

Include files


  •  Include file to get all common flags and dependencies
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