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Turris OS compilation from source codes

Turris is an OpenWrt-based system with various tweaks and additional software that for example automatically updates the system or analyzes network traffic. The complete source codes for Turris OS are available from the git repository and binary versions of it can be compiled practically on any machine. Turris OS can be compiled on any PC. In production, the system is compiled automatically on Ubuntu and the following steps are verified for that system, but the compilation process should be similar on any other compatible system. The first step is to clone the Turris OS repository. That can be done via one of the following commands (the second command is for cloning from a mirror GitHub server):

git clone https://gitlab.labs.nic.cz/turris/openwrt.git
git clone https://github.com/CZ-NIC/turris-os.git

Preparing the development environment

The best way to guarantee a smooth compilation process is to use an identical environment to the one used in production. Best is to have a container with this environment, which will enable the separation of the main system from the system for compilation. There is currently one way how to doing it via tool called Vagrant

Vagrant

Vagrant is a tool for easy management of development environments. Scripts are available in the Turris OS repository, which allow the creation of this environment with just few commands. At the same time it ensures synchronization between the host system and development environment, so it is possible to work with sets of programs installed on the host system in terms of repository (for example with the favorite text editor) and all changes are immediately propagated to the otherwise isolated environment, which only shares a directory with the cloned repository and in which the system compilation is started.

First we install the Vagrant application. This can be done using a package manager (for example APT on Ubuntu/Debian), however, in some distributions only older versions are available, which miss various required functionalities so problems may occur. In such cases it is advisable to download the newest version from the official website.

While installing Vagrant, installation of the the plugin vagrant-lxc, which allows the use of LXC containers, is also required. The container make separation of the compilation environment from the host system easier without significantly compiling speed decrease. This plugin of course also requires support of LXC in the host system. Installation of this plugin and its dependencies can be done with these two commands (assuming that Vagrant is already installed):

sudo apt-get install lxc
vagrant plugin install vagrant-lxc

In the last step, you should create a symbolic link (or copy) to a file with a development environment definition and put it into the root directory with the cloned Turris OS repository:

ln -s vagrant/Vagrantfile

It is now possible to run an instance of the development environment. This can be done using the command vagrant up --provider=lxc (the option --provider=lxc is required for the first initialization only). This command comes in useful every time the installation is terminated (using vagrant halt or after the host system reboot). In those cases, where the development environment needs to be reinstalled or it needs to be completely removed, the command vagrant destroy can be used.

To access the development system the command vagrant ssh can be run in Turris repository directory. This opens up an SSH connection to the container with the development environment and it can now be used as normal system. The directory synchronized with the Turris OS repository is accessible through the path /openwrt.

Installation without Vagrant environment

If you don't want to or can't use Vagrant on your system, then it is possible to install compilation dependencies directly onto the system. These dependencies can be found in the initialization script vagrant/vagrant_bootstrap.sh, which is run during the initial run of the Vagrant environment. In systems based on Debian the commands can mostly be used without change. In other systems, corresponding packages have to be installed. Table on OpenWrt wiki can be useful when searching for appropriate packages. The previously mentioned script also edits the URL for package download and optionally allows installation of additional arguments for the command make in the buildroot using the extension openwrt-bash-completion.

The last resort option is the use of a virtual system. This method is more demanding on resources (CPU and memory), but it is possible to apply in on a wide variety of systems, including Windows. Virtualization can be done using for example a freely distributed application VirtualBox. In that case, it is advisable to choose Ubuntu as the installed system, because then it is enough to clone the Turris OS repository and run the previously mentioned script and the development environment is ready.

Compiling Turris OS

Turris OS, or OpenWRT, consist of big amount of scripts. Multiple steps are required to build Turris OS such as configuration generation, feeds fetching (those contain additional packages outside of OpenWRT), feeds patching and more. Because of complexity of such task a compile_fw script was implemented in Turris OS. It automates all tasks required for Turris OS build.

Depending on target board board of your build you should use either compile_omnia_fw (for Turris Omnia) or compile_turris_fw (for Turris 1.x).

You can pass additional arguments to compile_fw script derivate and those are passed to make call of OpenWRT build. Suggested argument is -j$(nproc) to run build in parallel for faster builds.

In default, only minimal set of packages is build. This is not complete Turris OS but should be enough for example for new packages creation. This kind of build is used for development for faster build times, that is around half a hour or hour depending on hardware.

To build complete Turris OS and to generate medkit you have to set environment variable BUILD_ALL=y when you run compile_fw script derivate. You can do that by BUILD_ALL=y ./compile_omnia_fw (with compile_turris_fw for Turris 1.x). You have to use this build when you want to create your own medkit (archive with root file-system to be flashed to router). This build can take more than eight hours to complete depending on used hardware and it is prune to failure (caused by race conditions).

If you encounter problems with build then you can try to change -j value or you can just use -j1 to disable build in parallel. These problems are caused by race conditions in build and by hard to discover missing dependencies.