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Re: [Xen-devel] [OSSTEST PATCH] README.hardware-acquisition [and 1 more messages] [and 2 more messages]

Hi Ian,

Thank you for the detailed answer and the willingness to see OSSTest
changed in this respect.

Let me premise that as much as I would like this to be done, I had a
look at my schedule, and, realistically, I can only volunteer very
little time on this. In regards to the two Xilinx boards, it looks like
we'll just have to wait for Debian.

For the sake of this discussion and brainstorming solutions, I have a
couple of questions and answers on how to support different kernels with
Debian below.

On Thu, 1 Nov 2018, Ian Jackson wrote:
> > Yes, we should discuss the technical details on how to use our own
> > quasi-vanilla Linux branch together with the Debian installer. That's
> > all we need AFAICT.
> OK.  So:
> I see two possible approaches:
> Firstly, chicken-and-egg: Use osstest's `anointed job' mechanism to
> chain one Xen ARM kernel build from the next.  (The anointed job
> feature in osstest allows a certain build to be declared generally
> good for use by other jobs.  The anointment typically takes place at
> the end of a push gate flight, when the build job that is being
> anointed has been shown to work properly.)
> Secondly, cross-compilation on x86.
> I think cross-compilation on x86 is probably going to be easier
> because it is conceptually simpler.  It also avoids difficulties if
> the anointed build should turn out to be broken on some hosts (this
> ought to be detected by the push gate system, but...).  And, frankly,
> our x86 hardware is a lot faster.
> So, assuming the plan is to do cross-compilation on x86.
> The prerequisite is obviously an appropriate cross-compiler.  Will the
> Debian cross-compilers do ?

Probably it would work, but I don't know for sure. Most people use the
Linaro compiler and toolchain:


Testing the Debian cross-compiler would be very easy.

> If not then maybe this is not the best
> approach because otherwise it's not clear where we'll get a suitable
> compiler.
> If the Debian cross compilers are OK, then I think the necessary
> changes to osstest are:
> 1. Introduce a distinction between the host (GCC terminology: build)
>    and target (GCC terminology: host) architectures, in ts-xen-build.
>    This includes adding a call to target_install_packages to install
>    the cross compiler, and appropriately amending the configure and
>    make runes.  Perhaps some of this will want to be in
>    Osstest/BuildSupport.pm.  The runvars for build jobs will need to
>    be reviewed to decide whether a new runvar is needed or whether
>    cross-compilation can be inferred from a currently-unsupported
>    combination of runvars (particularly, arch vs., hostflags).
> 2. Maybe change ts-kernel-build to be able to additionally produce a
>    .deb, or cpio full of modules, for use by step 5.  (This should be
>    optional, controlled by a runvar, since it probably doubles the
>    size of the build output...)
> 3. Change make*flight and mfi-* to, on ARM, run the existing kernel
>    build job on x86 by setting the job runvars appropriately.
> 4a. Teach the debian-installer driver in Debian.pm how to pick up a
>    kernel image from another job.  It would look at a runvar
>    dikernelbuildjob or something I guess.
> 4b. Teach it to pick up a kernel modules from another job and stuff
>    them into its installer cpio before use.
> 4c. Teach it to put the kernel and modules onto the being-installed
>    system.
>    This would be a variant of, or amendment to, or alternative to,
>    Osstest/Debian.pm:di_special_kernel or its call site.  The kernel's
>    ability to handle concatenated cpio images may be useful.
>    We will want to refactor into a utility library (probably a file
>    of shell functions) at least some of the code in
>    mg-debian-installer-update for unpicking a kernel .deb (usually
>    from -backports) and fishing out the kernel image and the modules,
>    and stuffing the modules into an existing installer cpio archive.
>    Whatever approach is taking, the modules in the installer must be a
>    subset because the whole set of modules is very large and may make
>    the initramfs too big to be booted.  See the list of module paths
>    in mg-debian-installer-update.
>    NB overall there are four aspects to (4): (i) arranging to boot the
>    right kernel; (ii) getting the modules into the installer
>    environment; and getting both (iii) kernel and (iv) modules into
>    the being-installed system.
> 5. Change make*flight and mfi-* on ARM to add the new runvar so that
>    ARM flights use our own kernels rather than Debian's.
> 6. Review the arrangements for reuse of existing build jobs, to maybe
>    reuse ARM kernel builds more often.  Search cr-daily-branch for
>    mg-adjust-flight-makexrefs.  Probably, an additional call should be
>    added with some appropriate conditions.

I thought that we could have provided a deb repository with alternative
kernels for OSSTests to use. We would have scripts to generate those deb
packages from the Xen ARM Linux tree in a repository on xenbits, but we
wouldn't necessarily have OSSTest run the script. Initially, we could
run the scripts by hand, then, we could run them automatically in
OSSTest or elsewhere. Is that a possibility? I already have Dockerfiles
(AKA bash scripts) to build an ARM kernel on a few distros, that's
something I could make available.

This morning Julien had one more different suggestion: building the
kernel with OSSTest on SoftIron, that we know it works, it would be a
native compilation. Then we could use the built kernel together with the
Debian installer on the other boards (Xilinx, Renesas, etc.)

Either way, the kernel to be used with the embedded boards doesn't need
to be rebuilt often, only once a month or so.

> > > Can you please point me to the corresponding Debian bug ?
> > 
> > https://salsa.debian.org/kernel-team/linux/merge_requests/67
> Hrm, you may want to file a bug in the Debian BTS.  I'm not sure
> whether the stable kernel maintainers are the same people.  OTOH it
> has only been there 2 weeks and it wouldn't be released until the next
> Debian stable update anyway, after which it would probably go to
> backports.
> Right now the situation with MRs in Salsa is not always ideal;
> sometimes it doesn't email the right people.  It would be worth going
> to #debian-kernel (on oftc) and checking that you have made your
> request via the right channel.

I'll forward your suggestion to the Xilinx person that created that

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